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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Paul Krugman: Luckily, Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius
His mental deficiencies may save American democracy.
The surprising thing about the constitutional crisis we’re now facing is that it took so long to happen. It was obvious from early on that the president of the United States is a would-be autocrat who accepts no limits on his power and considers criticism a form of treason, and he is backed by a party that has denied the legitimacy of its opposition for many years. Something like this moment was inevitable.
What still hangs in the balance is the outcome. And if democracy survives — which is by no means certain — it will largely be thanks to one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.
I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.
He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.
Catherine Rampell; The deficit has gotten worse. This shouldn’t be a surprise
The GOP’s fiscal hawks have finally flown the coop.
This week, the Congressional Budget Office released its latest estimate for the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended. Lo and behold, the deficit likely reached nearly $1 trillion — $984 billion, to be precise. Final numbers are due from the Treasury Department any day now.
To put this in context: This was the largest annual deficit in both raw dollar terms and as a share of the economy since 2012, when we were still recovering from the aftermath of the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession. It was also a huge jump from where it was when President Trump first took office; the deficit is up by 26 percent since fiscal 2018 and a whopping 48 percent since 2017.
This is, needless to say, not what either Trump or others in his party told us to expect under Republican leadership. For years, the GOP cast itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, fighting tooth and nail against virtually any Obama-era expense even when the struggling economy desperately needed more fiscal stimulus.
The “paper of record” is becoming the paper that treats unhinged right-wing conspiracy
Joe Biden and his presidential campaign have clearly been unsure how and whether to punch back against Donald Trump’s meritless conspiracy theory about the former vice president and his son, Hunter. Trump is obviously trying to deflect attention from his own likely crimes, the House impeachment inquiry and his terrible poll numbers. Finally Biden has decided to address the issue directly.
On Wednesday, during campaign events in New Hampshire, Biden finally joined all the other major Democratic candidates in endorsing the impeachment inquiry into Trump. More important, in an uncharacteristic act of daring, Biden’s team called out the New York Times for elevating, laundering and promoting Trump’s preferred conspiracy theories.
In a letter to Times editor Dean Baquet, Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield lambasted the newspaper for publishing an op-ed by right-wing hitman and Breitbart contributor Peter Schweizer, which was clearly meant to support Trump’s discredited allegations that Biden’s dealings in Ukraine were somehow corrupt. [..]
That Times article “is really the latest maneuver in the Republican strategy of shielding President Donald Trump from his own scandals by redirecting attention to his political opponents,” writes Eric Kleefeld of Media Matters. He also notes that Schweizer feigns outrage over private citizens such as Hunter Biden cashing in on his family name and political connections, but never mentions that the sitting president is actively running businesses around the world that are being used as money-laundromats for bribes from foreign leaders and business tycoons.