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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Charles M. Blow: You Can’t Gaslight a Virus

President Trump’s usual political tricks won’t work now.

In the Donald Trump era, Democrats and Republicans generally live with two completely different concepts of reality. Their views of Trump, his competence and character, could hardly be more different. [..]

But, there were a couple of areas of general agreement among Democrats and Republicans, one of which was that overwhelming majorities of both groups viewed Trump as self-centered.

That self-centered sensibility has been on full display since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Trump sees this budding pandemic through the lens of how it will affect him and his re-election prospects. The fact that the people infected and those fearful of becoming so are real people who desperately need the steady hand of a steady leader is lost on him.

Instead of being the president that the country needs in a time of crisis, he has chosen to employ his worn political strategy: lying. Rather than addressing the issue straightforwardly, he has told lie after lie, and in some cases contradicted the scientists trying to manage this issue.

Jill Filipovic: Watching ‘Hillary’ in the Wake of Elizabeth Warren’s Exit

A new documentary about Hillary Clinton conjures up déjà vu.

At the very end of “Hillary,” an intimate and revealing four-part Hulu documentary series that tracks Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Mandy Grunwald, the campaign’s communications adviser, sums up Mrs. Clinton’s career: “As long as she has been in public life there have been these ups and downs. ‘Be our champion, go away.’ ‘Be our path-breaker, go away.’”

Mrs. Clinton may be the woman at whom Americans have most regularly hurled these whiplash-inducing demands, but she is far from the only one who was told she had to mold herself into what the public (or a boss, or a partner, or a parent) said they wanted, only to wind up rejected and scorned for her efforts. In the wake of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the presidential race — the last of several smart, qualified Democratic women with any reasonable chance of clinching the 2020 nomination — “Hillary” feels both raw and resonant. It’s an unusually authentic portrayal of someone so often accused of being inauthentic.

And yet before she even says it onscreen, the tenor of Ms. Grunwald’s comment reverberates through the series, indicting all of us and suggesting we may have learned all the wrong lessons from 2016.

Tom Steyer: What I Learned While Running for President

The establishment has failed many hard-working people. If we don’t call it out, nothing will change.

I love meeting Americans. Before I ran for president, I had the opportunity to meet people across the country while fighting climate change, registering young people and working to impeach President Donald Trump. I loved hearing their stories and learning about their lives. Some — a lot — of their stories were harrowing. Many felt disconnected and left behind by the political establishment and elites in New York and Washington.

Most people I met felt that the government was broken and that their vote didn’t count because of a corporate stranglehold on our democracy. I learned something from every encounter and I valued every interaction. [..]

Meeting Americans has reinforced my sense of deep governmental failure. Whether it’s the warp-speed gentrification of Charleston, the homeless problem in Los Angeles or water pollution in Denmark, S.C., Americans deserve so much better from their government. We can afford it. We know better. And it’s the right thing to do.

And people ache for a democracy they can believe in. During my campaign, I tried to call out the intertwined elites in the media, the Beltway and corporate America, all of whom are thriving at the expense of the American people. They don’t want to change a single thing. Corporate America has truly bought our democracy, and people across this country are suffering every day because of it.

Let me be clear: I understand that I have benefited from being part of this world. But this campaign has reinforced my passion for spending all my time and money to change the political neglect that has brought this nation to a very low place.

Max Boot: Trump can’t handle a crisis he didn’t create

Until now, pretty much every crisis that President Trump has confronted has been one that he himself created.

The “caravans” of Central American refugees — the subject of hysteria before the 2018 midterm elections — were a threat only in Trump’s own mind. The North American Free Trade Agreement wasn’t “the worst trade deal ever made” and didn’t need to be renegotiated. Iran wasn’t violating the nuclear accord and the United States didn’t need to pull out of the deal. North Korea’s nuclear program is a threat, but Pyongyang wasn’t about to start a war with the United States. The trade deficit with China wasn’t a problem according to most economists, and China’s abusive trade practices did next to nothing to hurt the U.S. economy. [..]

The one exception — the one crisis largely out of Trump’s control — was Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017. The administration’s response was horribly botched. Aid was delayed and power was out for months, causing some 3,000 deaths. Trump’s response was to deny the deaths, attack the mayor of San Juan, accuse Puerto Ricans of being lazy and toss paper towels at hurricane survivors as if they were seals getting fish from a trainer. It was pathetic and shameful but did not cost Trump politically because Puerto Rico is far from the mainland.

The novel coronavirus is the first major crisis that Trump confronts that he did not create and whose impact he cannot escape with his usual bluster and bravado. Which is not to say he’s not trying. His performance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday was vintage Trump — which is to say that it was incoherent, delusional and frightening.

Guy T. Saperstein: If Jeff Bezos really wants to fight the climate crisis, he should just pay his taxes

Wildfires are ravaging California and Australia – and local fire departments are alarmingly underfunded and underprepared

n the wake of the devastating Australian bushfires, Jeff Bezos announced last month that he will donate $10bn to fight the climate crisis. As a resident of California and the former president of the Sierra Club Foundation, I welcome any contribution toward the struggle against our changing climate. That said, my home state, like all communities with Amazon facilities, would be far better off if Bezos simply paid his taxes.

If Amazon’s properties in California were taxed at their current value, the added tax could help bolster our underfunded firefighters and fix our crumbling fire access roads. Contributing vast sums to the global effort is wonderful, but climate change is a local issue too. Our communities need to be well-funded if we’re going to face this threat head-on.