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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Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s fans think he’s a macho he-man — he’s really a moral weakling who preys on women and kids

Trump and his supporters want you to think of him as strong and manly, but he won’t pick on someone his own size

Donald Trump’s fans are obsessed with the idea that their hero is the pinnacle of manliness, here to restore the supposed greatness of American masculinity after its alleged assault at the hands of feminism and “political correctness.” His fans paint semi-erotic art portraying Trump as handsome and virile, either with a couple of dozen pounds shaved off his waistline or as an over-muscular he-man. They are so sure that Trump radiates a vibrant masculinity that Trump fanboy and convicted criminal Dinesh D’Souza recently posted a picture of Trump sitting next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the caption, “Masculinity in the twenty first century: which one is YOU?” The implicit assumption was that the orange-tinted primate, hunched over in a poorly-fitted suit was obviously more of a studly macho man than the suave young Canadian.

To outsiders, the idea that Trump is a model of desirable masculinity is just plain bizarre, as he lacks not just the positive markers of traditional manhood — stoicism, strength and virility — but any positive human qualities at all. But this past month has offered a strong reminder of what, exactly, Trump fans believe makes Trump such a harbinger of restored masculine greatness: His viciousness and cruelty.

Forget the handsome knight in shining armor protecting the weak of chivalric myth. Trump’s “manhood” is strictly about punching down and targeting those who are most vulnerable, with a particular sadism reserved for women and children.

Richard Wolffe: Trump’s toadyism to Saudi Arabia: a new moral low

The Saudis are good customers, Trump says – which evidently outweighs the fact they murdered and carved up a Washington Post journalist

It’s that time of a presidency when every incumbent pretends to be what he isn’t, or to do what he hasn’t. With a re-election year kicking off, everyone wants to know if the candidate can fill in the gaping holes in his record, to give voters some reason to hope or believe.

In the case of Donald Trump, that means trying to look like something he hasn’t been for the last two and a half years: presidential, sane and worthy of the world’s respect. Just for once.

So there are the TV interviews with networks other than Fox News, including the one with ABC News where he was supposed to look normal but ended up saying he’d accept more Russian dirt in the upcoming election. If only to see if it was any good. Totally presidential.

There was the decisive moment when he turned the jets around as they were about to bomb Iran: an act of leadership that overruled his hawkish aides, as well as his earlier decision to, um, bomb Iran. Totally commander-in-chief.

And then there was the interview with NBC News, where he readily admitted that he puts a higher value on arms deals with Saudi Arabia than on American values like democracy and human rights. Totally making America great again.

John Crace: Bumbling Boris Johnson takes to the airwaves to lie, lie and lie again

Tory leader-in-waiting unable even to maintain the most basic rules of conversation

ou can see why Boris Johnson’s carers have chosen to mothball him in recent weeks. His decline has been almost total. Johnson never did much care for the past or the future. Every day has always been a tabula rasa, one on which he was free to reinvent himself as he pleased without being bound by any commitments he may have made. Now though, he appears to barely have a present. Unable even to maintain the most basic rules of conversation, his words are just a scattergun of free association.

Nick Ferrari began Johnson’s LBC radio interview with a few easy rapid-fire yes and no questions as if to establish a benchmark for the lie detector. It proved hard work as Johnson was such a shambles he could barely even confirm his name. Was he a coward? That should have been a no brainer. That’s the one thing on which everyone – even his friends – agree. Johnson merely looked confused. The silence was interpreted as a yes on the polygraph.

Ian Black: The US’s Middle East ‘peace summit’ is nonsense. Palestinians are right to boycott it

The Trump administration is notoriously biased towards Israel, and its $50bn offer to Palestinians pointedly avoids land rights

In the toxic history of the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinians have often been accused of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. This familiar charge has been repeated in the runup to an extraordinary event taking place in the Gulf state of Bahrain, convened by the US and starting on Tuesday.

The Manama “workshop” – downgraded from “conference” to lower already rock-bottom expectations – is designed to discuss the “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled by the White House on Saturday. The document, the result of two years’ work by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has already been subject to a torrent of undiplomatic abuse. Palestinians have made clear that they will not attend Manama – apart from the odd businessman prepared to defy a broad national consensus that unusually unites Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.

Trump’s hostility to the Palestinians and blatant bias towards Israel have been clear from the moment he entered the Oval Office: the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the slashing of aid to UNRWA (the agency that assists Palestinian refugees), the closure of the PLO mission in Washington and recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights have all been bleak and damaging landmarks. The president’s disruptive moves have undermined the longstanding international consensus that the only way to resolve the world’s most intractable conflict is to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel – thus finally granting equal rights to both peoples who are doomed, whether they like it or not, to share the Holy Land.