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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Jamelle Bouie: Impeachment Is Not a Coup

And no matter what Trump thinks, the president does not embody the will of the people.

In his letter denouncing the impeachment investigation, Pat Cipollone accused Democrats of waging an “illegitimate” effort to “overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the president they have freely chosen.”

The president’s allies have either stuck to the same line or taken it further. [..]

Then there’s the secondary but still important fact that there’s no way Trump or his supporters can honestly claim the support of “the people.” Trump is president despite the wishes of the public. Voters did not want him in the White House, but our state-based system for choosing presidents — where the geographic distribution of your supporters is more important than the number you have — gave him a victory. As president, he has yet to earn a majority of the public’s support and in the last national election, his party suffered a decisive defeat, losing the lower chamber of Congress. At this moment, a majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry. Trump is the legitimate president of the United States, but the idea that he represents “the people” — and that the investigation is an assault on their will — is untenable.

In which case, the claim that the 2016 election is inviolable — and that impeachment is therefore “illegitimate” — makes sense only if you adopt Trump’s right-wing populist logic. In this style of politics, Jan-Werner Müller notes in “What is Populism?,” “other political competitors are just part of the immoral, corrupt elite.” For populists, he writes later, “only some people are really the people.” Trump makes this explicit whenever he denounces entire cities as violent hellscapes or ignores crises and emergencies in states that didn’t vote for him. Trump has not tried to represent the nation as a whole and does not pretend to govern on everyone’s behalf.

Karen Tumulty: Republicans will have to face the truth on impeachment eventually

Republicans don’t know how to take yes for an answer.

For weeks, they dutifully echoed President Trump, baying that the House’s ongoing impeachment investigation is a “witch hunt” and a “sham.”

They have complained that the House never took a formal vote on proceeding with the inquiry (though there is no requirement for one), that it was being conducted in secret (though open hearings are promised) and that the president is not being offered an opportunity to respond to his accusers (though he does it constantly on his Twitter feed).

On Thursday, they will have the vote they demanded, along with a road map for how the inquiry will go from here.

The procedure as outlined strikes a reasonable balance between the need to collect evidence and testimony, some of which must be done initially behind closed doors, and the transparency necessary for the public to have confidence that something as grave as the impeachment of a president is done fairly. [..]

So far, the effort in the House has moved methodically. Nonetheless, Republicans continue to howl about process. The reason: It allows them to avoid talking about the actual substance of the allegations against Trump.

Jennifer Rubin: Every House Republican just ignored their oaths of office

It was a sad spectacle, a confirmation that not a single House Republican (even those who are retiring) appreciates his/her oath of office, that not a single Republican can step away from partisanship and look to the greater good, and not a single Republican who is concerned enough about the extortion of a foreign government to influence our elections to do anything about it. For whatever they do in politics and in life, the vote on Thursday setting forth the procedures for public hearings on impeachment and the inevitable vote on articles of impeachment will define their public life.

Unless they see the light and vote for articles of impeachment, not a single one will be able say that, when the chips were down and the most dangerous president in history attempted to delegitimize our elections (by inviting interference) and to co-opt the government for private political gain, they put country over party. None will be able to claim that they stood against an invitation for a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen.

Michael McFaul: Alexander Vindman should be celebrated, not smeared

The polarization of American political life is worsening. Although I do research and commentary on U.S. national security issues — a topic that used to be more resistant to partisan divides than other issues — even this area is no longer always conducive to rational discourse. On social media platforms, in my email correspondence and occasionally even in my voice mail, I have become accustomed to fellow Americans calling me a “traitor,” a “criminal” and other words I don’t feel comfortable writing. Sometimes the attacks include physical threats. It’s disturbing, but it is one of the costs of engaging in policy discussions in the United States in 2019. Or so I tell myself, at least.

Yet this week, as I watched defenders of President Trump launch a series of disgusting and unfounded attacks on the character of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, I couldn’t help feeling that we have reached a new low. Ever the optimist, I want to believe that this latest case of vicious, over-the-top partisan rhetoric can serve as a useful opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have sunk, and reverse course. But it’s getting harder to sustain that faith.

Gail Collins: The Worst Trump Cabinet Member? You Picked a Real Winner

The vote wasn’t even close.

The results are in, people, and it’s a landslide. Your choice for Worst Trump Cabinet Member is …

Attorney General William Barr! Barr was cited for multiple non-achievements. There was his misrepresentation of the findings of the Mueller report. And the decision to respond to Robert Mueller’s warning about Russian intervention in American elections by — as one voter put it — “opening investigations into the investigators.”

The bottom line was a quaint conviction that the attorney general is supposed to work for the public, not the president.

“I cannot believe I am stating this, but Jeff Sessions had more respect for the law,” wrote Diana from Centennial.

Second place went to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Silence on Ukraine, sycophant to Trump, continues to demoralize the State Department, lack of support for his ambassadors,” wrote Isabelle Stillger, launching off in a very long list of complaints about Pompeo’s failure to … pretty much everything.

“First in his class at West Point and he ends up polishing Trump’s boots,” added Phyliss Dalmatian.

Still, the results weren’t even close. Besides his dedication to protecting the president from, um, criminal justice, Barr unnerved readers with his war against secularism. “The chief enforcer of the Constitution recently gave a speech decrying those who would interfere with Christian religious control of our government,” noted Sharon from Montana, who predicted Barr “will go down in history as the worst attorney general.”

Maybe it was partly the name. So many possible Barr rhymes.