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: Bernie Sanders Is Going for Broke

Is maximalism the best political strategy?

Few political movements have experienced as quick and dramatic a fall from grace as what happened to the Sanders campaign between the Nevada caucuses and Super Tuesday. Over the course of 10 days Bernie Sanders went from the presumptive Democratic nominee to a very long shot.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that Sanders is running an ad that attempts to portray him as best buddies with former President Barack Obama.

Fact checkers have pointed out that the ad is deeply misleading. It jumbles together things Obama said over the course of a decade and leaves out important context.

But a frame-by-frame analysis actually understates how disingenuous it is for Sanders to try to tie himself to Obama. For Sandersism, as a philosophy, is all about rejecting Obamaism. That is, it’s about refusing to accept incremental, half-a-loaf-is-better-than-none politics and demanding go-for-broke maximalism instead.

The thing is, there is a case for the Sanders critique of Obama. But Sanders should own that critique, not pretend that he never made it.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Calamitous Coronavirus Response

Last month, after analyzing figures on epidemics since 1960, The Economist concluded that people die at a higher rate from such disease outbreaks in authoritarian countries than in democratic ones, even controlling for income levels. [..]

But democratic countries are far better than authoritarian ones at fact-based policymaking and at sharing the truth with the public. “Non-democratic societies often restrict the flow of information and persecute perceived critics,” The Economist piece noted. We’ve seen this in China. As Li Yuan wrote of coronavirus in The Times last month, “As the virus spread, officials in Wuhan and around the country withheld critical information, played down the threat and rebuked doctors who tried to raise the alarm.”

Unfortunately, you could substitute “Washington, D.C.” for “Wuhan” in that sentence and it would be equally true. So far, Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus combines the worst features of autocracy and of democracy, mixing opacity and propaganda with leaderless inefficiency.

Eugene Robinson: Black voters just rescued the Democratic Party

In recent decades, old-style kingmakers faded from American politics. This year, though, there are hundreds of thousands of them: the African American voters across the South who gave Joe Biden a lead in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Kingmaker in chief is House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose emotional, full-throated endorsement last week lifted Biden to a landslide in a state where black voters make up more than half of the Democratic electorate. After Clyburn weighed in, what had been a confusing picture — Would younger African Americans turn out in droves for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)? Was billionaire Tom Steyer’s barrage of television ads across the state winning him votes? — suddenly became crystal clear.

Biden ended up winning 61 percent of the black vote in South Carolina, according to exit polls. But what happened three days later, on Super Tuesday, was even more impressive — and perhaps, in the contest for the nomination, definitive. [..]

Clyburn’s message last week seemed to clarify things for black South Carolina voters, who were trying to figure out how best to defeat President Trump. The landslide those voters gave to Biden seemed to clarify things for black voters in the Super Tuesday states. If Biden is nominated and wins in November, African Americans will have picked a president.

Amanda Marcotte: Let’s face it, America: We didn’t deserve Elizabeth Warren

As Dolly Parton says, “They use your mind and they never give you credit.” That’s never been more true than now

Even though it was expected after her disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, it somehow still felt like a gut punch when Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formally withdrew from the presidential race on Thursday. After giving it some thought, I think I know why: Because this time, there is no other explanation than raw, unvarnished sexism. It just can’t be anything else.

“If Warren was a man, this would be over by now,” is a statement so painfully true that it became a cliché the moment it was first uttered. And yet it somehow failed to capture the scope of the unfairness that greeted Warren on the campaign trail — the way she was held to impossibly high standards, met them, and still saw male competitors who met much lower standards keep scaling past her in the polls.

Warren is a slight woman, but always feels like an outsized presence. Her towering intellect, her quick wit, her ability to crush small men like Mike Bloomberg with just her words, her skill at explaining complex ideas simply without dumbing them down, her deep well of compassion that is the thing that drove her into politics in the first place: All of this made her shine so much brighter than her counterparts on the debate stage.

Dan Froomkin: Get political reporters off the coronavirus story — they’re screwing it up

When reporters like the Times’ Peter Baker cover public health as a political narrative, we all stand to suffer

One of the many ways the public is ill-served by the White House chokehold on information about the coronavirus crisis is that it gives way too big a role to the White House press corps, which sees most everything through a political lens — and a warped political lens, at that.

To get at the truth about this public-health threat, news organizations need to route around the White House. It is flatly insane that someone as uninformed, intellectually incurious and science-intolerant as Mike Pence is playing point man here.

But news organizations also need to take political reporters — and perhaps even more importantly, political editors — entirely out of the loop on this story. It’s too damned important to be covered as a two-sided battle over who’s winning the narrative.

The epic irresponsibility of letting the political staff anywhere near this story was on full display in the coverage — particularly by the New York Times — of Donald Trump’s wildly dishonest attempt on Wednesday to blame Barack Obama for his own administration’s continued failure to make widespread testing for the virus available to the public.

The Times story moved through a credulous headline, a credulous subhead and two long stenographic paragraphs before even giving readers a hint that Trump had no idea what he was talking about.