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: Step Aside for Powell and Pelosi

Republicans, it turns out, can’t do economic policy.

America’s catastrophically inadequate response to the coronavirus can be attributed largely to bad short-term decisions by one man. And I do mean short-term: At every stage, Donald Trump minimized the threat and blocked helpful action because he wanted to look good for the next news cycle or two, ignoring and intimidating anyone who tried to give him good advice.

But here’s the thing: Even if he weren’t so irresponsibly self-centered, he has denuded the government of people who could be giving good advice in the first place. [..]

What’s now becoming clear is that when it comes to dealing with the economic fallout from Covid-19, the situation may be even worse. There are still some competent professionals holding senior positions at federal health agencies, who could give Trump good advice if he were willing to listen. But serious economic thinking has effectively been banned from this administration, if not the whole Republican Party. As far as I can tell, the Trump team is utterly incapable of formulating a coherent response to the gathering economic crisis.

Dana Milbank: Trump’s late conversion to reality leaves out his supporters

Behold, the perils of the Pinocchio presidency.

For three years, President Trump told his supporters that the federal government perpetrates hoaxes and frauds, that the media produces fake news and that nothing is on the level except for his tweets. He did the same with the novel coronavirus, portraying it as an ordinary flu that would “disappear” and accusing Democrats of a hoax and the media of exaggerating.

Belatedly, Trump has begun to speak the truth about the virus, which by some estimates could kill more than 2 million Americans without attempts to control it. After an abrupt change of tone Monday afternoon, Trump continued to say the right things, using the same word on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have used: war. [..]

But Trump’s late conversion to reality has left behind one group of Americans that will be difficult to convince: his own supporters. Their alternative-facts diet has left them intolerant of anything the government and the media feed them.

An alarming new poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist shows that the number of Republicans who believe the virus is a real threat has actually fallen over the past month, from 72 percent in February to just 40 percent now. A majority of Republicans now say the threat has been blown out of proportion — more than double the 23 percent who said so last month.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden: Here’s how to guarantee coronavirus won’t disrupt our elections

The coronavirus has brought unprecedented disruptions to the daily lives of Americans. Something as commonplace as walking into the grocery store is a troubling reminder that the world is facing a challenge that most of us have never seen before.

Our top priority right now is to make sure that people are safe in the face of this global pandemic. Federal, state and local health-care providers and first responders are working overtime to protect people, and we must give them the resources they need to do their jobs. The federal government must also fund testing, vaccine development and economic assistance for those whose lives have been turned upside down.

In the midst of this crisis, we must also remember to protect the foundation of our democracy by ensuring that every eligible American can safely cast a ballot in the upcoming elections. The coronavirus should not stop our citizens from casting their ballots. [..]

Without federal action, Americans might have to choose between casting a ballot and protecting their health. That’s wrong, and we must take swift action to address the problem.

The best way to ensure that this virus doesn’t keep people from the ballot box is to bring the ballot box to them. We must allow every American the ability to vote by mail. And we must expand early voting so that voters who are not able to vote by mail are not exposed to the elevated infection risks of long lines and crowded polling locations.

Michelle Goldberg: Grieving for My Sick City

For those who revel in urban life, it’s hard to believe it can just stop.

There is a lot to mourn right now. Many thousands of people all over the world are mourning dead loved ones. People are mourning lost jobs, lost savings, lost security. Senior citizens in locked-down nursing homes are mourning the loss of visitors. I’m lucky; I’m just mourning the city.

To live in a city like New York, where I’ve spent most of my adult life, is to trade private space for public space. It’s to depend on interdependence. I don’t have a dining room, but I’ve been able to eat in thousands of restaurants. I have no storage space, but everything I needed was at the bodega. I don’t have a home office, but I could work at coffee shops.

Now those supports are gone. The coronavirus disaster is going to devastate communities all over the country, even if many in red America don’t realize it yet. But it poses particular challenges for urbanites, and not just because the disease spreads more easily where people are packed close together.

Amanda Marcotte: Right-wing pundits’ shameless pivot: It was a “hoax,” but now it’s an “emergency”

After weeks of minimizing coronavirus, now conservatives are trying to blame Democrats for the pandemic

For weeks, Donald Trump clearly believed he could lie the coronavirus away. As David Leonhardt of the New York Times carefully chronicled, starting on Jan. 22, Trump began a campaign of falsehoods geared towards tricking Americans — and especially the stock market — into thinking everything was going to be fine, this epidemic was “very well under control,” that “like a miracle” the virus “will disappear” and that anyone who suggested otherwise was participating in a “hoax.” Fox News and other right-wing media, in the endless infinity symbol of conservative lies, both led and followed Trump on this, blanketing red-state America with a steady drumbeat of assertions that the “liberal media” was exaggerating the crisis to hurt Trump.

Furthermore, all this happened in the face of substantial evidence that Republican voters and Fox News viewers, who tend to be older and live in rural areas with poorer access to medical care, are more likely to die from coronavirus.

Life, as the Twitter dorks say, comes at you fast. Coronavirus has been reported in 49 states now, and cities are going on lockdown to prevent the spread. After multiple failed stunts geared toward trying to trick investors, Trump finally held a serious press conference on the crisis Monday. All those right-wing pundits on Fox News and talk radio, being utterly shameless, have switched seamlessly from denying that we have a coronavirus problem to claiming that Trump has been showing mighty leadership — and oh yeah, trying to blame Democrats for the problem.