Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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: When a Pandemic Meets a Personality Cult

The Trump team confirms all of our worst fears.

So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats. Besides, it’s no big deal, and people should buy stocks. Anyway, we’ll get it all under control under the leadership of a man who doesn’t believe in science.

From the day Donald Trump was elected, some of us worried how his administration would deal with a crisis not of its own making. Remarkably, we’ve gone three years without finding out: Until now, every serious problem facing the Trump administration, from trade wars to confrontation with Iran, has been self-created. But the coronavirus is looking as if it might be the test we’ve been fearing.

And the results aren’t looking good. [..]

So the Trumpian response to crisis is completely self-centered, entirely focused on making Trump look good rather than protecting America. If the facts don’t make Trump look good, he and his allies attack the messengers, blaming the news media and the Democrats — while trying to prevent scientists from keeping us informed. And in choosing people to deal with a real crisis, Trump prizes loyalty rather than competence.

Maybe Trump — and America — will be lucky, and this won’t be as bad as it might be. But anyone feeling confident right now isn’t paying attention.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump goes full racist, of course, to cover up coronavirus lies and incompetence

Trump’s ignorance and hostility to science makes situation worse — so he turns to an old standby: race-baiting

Donald Trump’s sole interest, when it comes to the coronavirus, is trying to find some way to prevent this impending public health crisis from affecting his re-election chances. His utter lack of concern for the health and safety of Americans, including his own supporters, is unsurprising — after daily exposure to the man for years, we should know by now hat he lacks normal human feelings such as empathy or concern for others. Indeed, the administration’s response to the threat of this virus spreading in the U.S. has been focused mainly, if not solely, on propaganda — seeking to create the illusion that things are under control, instead of doing the hard work of actually trying to get things under control.

But thanks to Trump’s utter lack of credibility, even the ham-fisted propaganda efforts aren’t working. He held a press conference Wednesday that was clearly intended to bamboozle the public just enough to stabilize the stock markets (which Trump thinks hold the key to his re-election). But the whole thing was a disaster, even by propaganda standards, with Trump’s dishonesty, hostility to scientific experts and massive incompetence on full display. Rather than stabilizing the markets, his performance seems to have made things worse — the Dow Jones had its biggest one-day plunge in history on Thursday.

Trump reacted in a way that’s sadly unsurprising: He amped up his racism, grasping desperately for nonwhite people to blame, rather than admitting he’s not up to the task of handling this crisis.

George T. Conway III: Trump made a baseless attack on two Supreme Court justices. Here’s why he did it.

President Trump is treating the judiciary the way he treats the media. But the harm created by these attacks could be far greater.

In 2016, CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Trump off camera why he persisted in going after journalists. In one of those sporadic moments in which he reveals the raw truth, Trump replied, according to Stahl, “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

That’s just what Trump did the other day, and what he has been doing for some time, with judges. We all remember Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, the federal district judge in San Diego who handled the case against the president’s now-defunct Trump University. Trump derided the Indiana-born Curiel as having an “absolute conflict” because he was “Mexican” (and thus “a hater of Donald Trump”). More recently, Trump went after Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over the trial of felonious presidential friend Roger Stone. Trump claimed she was biased because she supposedly put another of his criminal associates, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, in solitary confinement. (She didn’t.)

Now, even more ominously, Trump has turned his fire on the Supreme Court. In tweets and in a bizarre news conference in India, he demanded that two justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — refrain from ruling on all things Trump. “Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!” he tweeted.

Charles M. Blow: Warnings From South Carolina

With Biden’s victory, minority and religious voters demand attention.

Before the South Carolina Democratic primary, many in elite political circles were writing the Joe Biden campaign’s obituary. And they were enjoying it.

Political cycles love stories of trajectory: an improbable rise or a tragic fall. Coasting lacks sizzle. A coronation lacks sensation. So being an early front-runner is a precarious position. The power of story pulls on you like gravity, willing you to the ground.

But, with Biden’s blowout victory in South Carolina, he breathed new life into his limping campaign, offering new hope not only to his campaign but also to moderate Democrats who have yet to settle on a primary champion.

But, aside from Biden’s victory, exit poll data from the state offers a number of warnings and signals for Democrats moving forward. [..]

There are lessons and considerations coming out of South Carolina that every Super Tuesday voter must grapple with. With Biden’s win, the electability argument once again takes center stage.

Karen J. Greenberg: This is how democracy dies

In this fast-paced century, rife with technological innovation, we’ve grown accustomed to the impermanence of things. Whatever is here now will likely someday vanish, possibly sooner than we imagine. Movies and music that once played on our VCRs and stereos have given way to infinite choices in the cloud. Cash currency is fast becoming a thing of the past. Cars will soon enough be self-driving. Stores where you could touch and feel your purchases now lie empty as online shopping sucks up our retail attention.

The ever-more-fleeting nature of our physical world has been propelled in the name of efficiency, access to ever more information, and improvement in the quality of life. Lately, however, a new form of impermanence has entered our American world, this time in the political realm, and it has arrived not gift-wrapped as progress but unpackaged as a profound setback for all to see. Longstanding democratic institutions, processes, and ideals are falling by the wayside at a daunting rate and what’s happening is often barely noticed or disparaged as nothing but a set of passing problems. Viewed as a whole, however, such changes suggest that we’re watching democracy disappear, bit by bit.