Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Charles M. Blow: It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump

Trumpism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people respond forcefully.

The Mueller Report has landed … with a thud. According to summary findings released by Attorney General William Barr, the special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation found no conspiracy between Donald Trump and his associates and Russia. The report would seem to support Trump’s mantra: No collusion. Trump will no doubt use these findings as a cudgel against future inquiries, regardless of merit.

The report did not, however, exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. I submit that we witnessed that Trump obstructed justice in open view, from the White House and on social media.

And while Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report. Instead, they put too many eggs in the Mueller basket, and allowed Trump to move the goal posts. Indeed, now the goal posts are permanently affixed to skates.

The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him.

Robert Reich: It’s Mueller time but don’t forget: Trump has undermined the very idea of America

We may never know for sure whether Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to obtain Russia’s help in the 2016 election, in return for, say, Trump’s help in weakening Nato and not interfering against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Trump and his propaganda machine at Fox News have so aggressively undermined the legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s inquiry – repeatedly conjuring a “witch hunt” and maintaining a drumbeat of “no collusion” – that Mueller’s report, whatever it shows, will almost surely be overwhelmed by a fog of alt-interpretation and epistemological confusion. What’s “collusion?” What’s illegal? What’s unethical? Has Trump been vindicated or not?

The real danger is that as attention inevitably turns to the 2020 campaign, controversy over the Mueller report will obscure the far more basic issues of Trump’s competence and character.

An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.

Ed kilgore: The Trump Investigations Are Far From Over

Politics, punditry and human nature being as they are, the late-Friday news that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s final report has been transmitted to the Attorney General (and will be described in summary form to Congress very soon) has spurred a frenzy of speculation, and the first of many leaks (credible and otherwise). The most prominent detail is that Mueller isn’t recommending any additional indictments in his probe of possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign or obstruction of justice by the president himself.

If that is true, you can be sure that the president and his allies will gloat that even Robert Mueller admits that his investigation was a witch hunt producing nothing but fresh evidence that the president has been unjustly persecuted by rogue elements in the FBI and the Justice Department. Indeed, as the Washington Post’s David Weigel notes, Republicans will soon try to decisively change the subject and turn the tables:

Who’s gonna be first with the “now that Mueller’s work is complete, the time has come to investigate the FBI’s 2016 probe of Hillary Clinton” press release?
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) March 22, 2019

Even if the “no more prosecutions” reports are accurate, though, the president’s hardly out of the woods with respect to scandals involving his presidency, his campaign, or his personal business.

The Mueller report could contain facts, leads and hints that not only cast doubt on the president’s integrity, but also give material to other, later prosecutions.

Barbara Kalbach: Rural America Needs Medicare for All, and Fast

We’ve got a rural health care emergency on the horizon.

Rural hospitals are closing or teetering on the brink of closure at an alarming rate. More than a hundred have closed since 2005 and hundreds more are on life support. Long-term care facilities are vanishing across rural America or being bought up by large corporations who care about profit, not the care of our loved ones.

Most rural hospitals have even stopped delivering babies — you’ll need to go to the city for that, so plan ahead.

I know firsthand. I’m a registered nurse and lifelong Iowan from the country. I’ve kept a close eye on where we’ve been with health care, and where it appears we’re headed. It’s not looking too good for my community and others if we stay on our current failed path.

Michael Winship: Trump of Toad Hall

He is not only the carrier but also a symptom of the greater disease that infects the republic

If you believe in Old Testament-style omens, please note that a plague of poisonous toads has infested the Florida town of Palm Beach Gardens, about 15 miles from Mar-a-Lago. And they’re on the move.

I am not making this up.

You have to admit that killer toads are a much more dramatic and appropriate harbinger of doom than the way the conclusions of the Mueller report were first rolled out this weekend. Late Friday afternoon, word came that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had delivered his report on Donald Trump to Attorney General William Barr. Barr then sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees saying he’d let them know more as soon as he’d had time to study it. He’d also issue a summary to the public. And there would be no further indictments issued.

After all these months, that big moment seemed anticlimactic, a pop gun when we what we wanted was the cannon’s roar.