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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Michael H. Fuchs: Trump’s foreign policy is for sale. That threatens our national security

The president’s efforts to govern in his own self-interest will undermine the world’s faith in our commitments

The Ukraine scandal is not only undermining American democracy – it’s damaging national security. US foreign policy increasingly looks like that of a mafia state, wielded at the behest of, and for the benefit of, one man’s personal interests, and for sale to the highest bidders. This is devastating America’s role in the world.

Trump led an effort – along with other government officials and the president’s personal lawyer – to use the power of the United States to pressure the government of Ukraine to fabricate smears about one of Trump’s domestic political opponents. As the White House admitted in a transcript of Trump’s 25 July call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” – to look into the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son – and said that the US attorney general, Bill Barr, and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, would help.

At the same time, Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine – which is fighting a war with Russia – on a timeline that makes it clear that it was part of an attempt to use taxpayer dollars as leverage to get Ukraine to do Trump’s personal bidding.

Charles M. Blow: Donald Is Desperate

He will do and say whatever he can to avoid impeachment.

On Wednesday I watched Donald Trump in the Oval Office, while seated next to the Finnish president, take questions from reporters in what can only be described as the unhinged rantings of a desperate man melting down, spiraling out of control and lashing out.

Over the last few years, and particularly since the Robert Mueller investigation concluded, I have grown accustomed to Trump delivering his insults, launching his attacks and spewing his lies with a swaggering smugness.

This was not that. What was on display Wednesday was anger animated by panicked fear.

And at another news conference with the Finnish president, Trump repeated his stupefying performance, rambling and raving, dodging questions and misdirecting attention. And, of course, lying.

Donald Trump is scared. And he is incensed that he is scared. And his only impulse is to fight like a thing near death: with everything he has, and by all means necessary. [..]

Trump ran for president as an exercise of self-flattery and to boost his brand. His win was surprising, even for him. So we should never expect him to be patriotic when he is being condemned.

Before Trump will allow himself to be chased from the temple, he’ll bring it down.

Jamelle Bouie: Andrew Johnson’s Violent Language — and Trump’s

The House should consider the president’s incendiary rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment, as it was in 1868.

Over the weekend, in a rage over impeachment, President Trump accused Representative Adam Schiff of “treason,” promised “Big Consequences” for the whistle-blower who sounded the alarm about his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and shared a warning — from a Baptist pastor in Dallas — that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

We’re already on to the next news cycle, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what happened with those tweets. The president was using the power and influence of his office to intimidate a witness and threaten a member of Congress with prosecution (of a crime still punishable by death), before raising the specter of large-scale political violence should lawmakers hold him responsible for his actions. If he had said this anywhere besides Twitter — in the Rose Garden or at a campaign stop — we would see it as a clear and unacceptable abuse of presidential rhetoric, his authoritarian instincts at work.

The House impeachment inquiry will almost certainly focus on Trump’s attempt to solicit foreign intervention in the 2020 election. If it goes beyond that, it might also include the president’s corruption and self-dealing. But in whichever direction the investigation goes, the House should consider Trump’s violent rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment.

Nicholas Burns: Trump’s Assault on the State Department Must Be Stopped

Congress needs to repair the damage the president has caused to the effectiveness and morale of the nation’s diplomats.

One of the first casualties of President Trump’s murky dealings with Ukraine has been the United States Foreign Service, the group of nonpartisan career professionals who serve as America’s primary point of contact with the world beyond our borders. While the House impeachment inquiry has rightly become a top priority, Congress must also act to repair the substantial damage Mr. Trump has caused to the effectiveness and morale of our diplomats and other State Department employees. [..]

Congress should also begin work on a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Service in its central mission, structure and responsibilities, which was last done in 1980. Given the changes in the global economy, technology and global balance of power — and in light of this president’s antagonistic relationship with the State Department — reaffirming and strengthening the role and mission of our career diplomats is a necessity.

The State Department is in crisis. Mr. Trump has done enormous harm to its mission and self- confidence. Republicans and Democrats in Congress must take steps to rescue an American institution that with proper support and presidential leadership, could help make America a great and respected global power once again.

Michael Tomasky: Democrats Have Impeachment by the Tail. Here’s How They Tame It.

It’s not about fast/slow or narrow/broad. It’s about conducting this in a way that nullifies right-wing talking points.

The debate among Democrats and liberals on impeachment right now is: Fast versus slow, narrow versus broad.

It’s understandable that these would emerge as the flash points, but those questions aren’t the right starting place when thinking about impeachment.

The actual first questions the Democrats need to think about are these: 1, what will be the main right-wing talking points? And 2, what will be swing voters’ more sincerely held reservations? If Democrats can find the answers among themselves to these two questions, they’ll also answer the fast-slow, narrow-broad questions the right way.

This is going to be an awful, hideous slog. A death match. Donald Trump, not exactly heretofore associated with the word “hinged,” is going to become more and more unhinged as this goes on, as we saw already with the 80 weekend tweets. Sometimes this will be fun, to watch his public meltdown. But other times it’s going to feel like he and his apologists are shoving bamboo shoots into our eyeballs.

Get ready. They’re going to be presenting a whole alternative-universe narrative that, unless you’ve made it a habit of watching Sean Hannity chat with Gregg Jarrett and Dan Bongino, you don’t know anything about. In this universe, Trump was the victim of Hillary-Ukraine collusion in 2016, which Barack Obama and Joe Biden were in on. They’re going to try to make it impossible for your average citizen to sort through any of it.

So it’s really important that the Democrats do this in a way that makes sense to your average citizen—that helps them sort through it. Here’s how.

There will of course be a gajillion Republican attack lines, but I see two main ones.