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: Trump and His Infallible Advisers

Beware men who never admit having been wrong.

“You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down close to zero.”

We have contained this, and the economy is “holding up nicely.”

It’s not nearly as serious as the common flu.

We’re going to have 50,000 or 60,000 deaths, and that’s great.

OK, we may have more than 100,000 deaths, but we’re doing a great job and should reopen the economy.

You sometimes hear people say that Donald Trump and his minions minimized the dangers of Covid-19, and that this misjudgment helps explain why their policy response has been so disastrously inadequate. But this statement, while true, misses crucial aspects of what’s going on.

For Trump and company didn’t make a one-time mistake. They grossly minimized the pandemic and its dangers every step of the way, week after week over a period of months. And they’re still doing it. [..]

The moral of this story, I’d argue, is that observers trying to understand America’s lethally bad response to the coronavirus focus too much on Trump’s personal flaws, and not enough on the character of the party he leads.

Yes, Trump’s insecurity leads him to reject expertise, listen only to people who tell him what makes him feel good and refuse to acknowledge error. But disdain for experts, preference for incompetent loyalists and failure to learn from experience are standard operating procedure for the whole modern G.O.P.

Amanda Marcotte: Anti-lockdown “movement”: Powered by racism

These protests aren’t really about public health policy or the virus — they’re a display of white identity politics

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, appeared on CNN and declared that the protests against stay-at-home orders that plagued her state capital, as well as numerous others, “depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country,” pointing to the regular appearance of swastikas, nooses, Nazi slogans and the American swastika, also known as the Confederate battle flag. (We can safely assume that the usual excuse of “Southern pride” used to defend the Rebel flag doesn’t apply in Michigan or Ohio or Illinois, states where thousands of young men fought and died for the Union.)

Conservatives cried foul at Whitmer’s words, of course, but there’s little point in denying it. We all have eyes and ears, and no one is mistaking the protesters for people who would flinch if they heard a friend casually use the n-word in conversation.

The question isn’t whether white identity politics and racism are fueling the protests. The real question is why. Racism isn’t some kind of magical force that shields your body from the coronavirus. Even Donald “Inject Bleach” Trump hasn’t been fool enough to suggest you can defeat the virus by wrapping yourself in the Confederate flag. Yet there’s no denying that there’s a direct correlation between racist attitudes and the belief that the coronavirus is an overblown hoax and the lockdowns are the result of a widespread leftist conspiracy.

That isn’t just true of the protesters, either. The most prominent voices in media and politics who are egging them on and denouncing stay-at-home orders also happen to be the people who are doing their utmost to mainstream white nationalist ideology.

Michelle Goldberg: Democrats, Tara Reade and the #MeToo Trap

Don’t compare the case against Joe Biden to the one against Brett Kavanaugh.

Here is one thing that Christine Blasey Ford and Tara Reade have in common: The Intercept reporter Ryan Grim was pivotal in publicizing their stories. Before anyone had heard of Blasey, Grim reported that Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, had a letter from a constituent represented by a lawyer specializing in sexual harassment and assault cases. It was about the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

And it was Grim who helped put Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault and harassment, on the public radar. In March, Grim raised questions about why a legal fund devoted to helping #MeToo victims declined to take her case. He later broke the news that a woman Reade identified as her mother called into “Larry King Live” in 1993 to ask for advice for her daughter, who worked for a “prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all.”

Try to imagine what would have happened if, a few weeks before Grim reported on Blasey, she had tweeted at him, apropos of Kavanagh’s fortunes, “Yup. Timing … wait for it … tick tock.” My guess: She never would have been asked to testify publicly. Democrats would not have dared to champion such politically tainted allegations.

Of course, Blasey didn’t tweet that. Reade did, after Grim tweeted that Biden would fare poorly in a two-person race against Bernie Sanders. A few weeks later, a political bomb went off. [..]

I suspect that whatever happens in this campaign, the credibility of the movement will suffer. The original #MeToo stories were carefully and meticulously documented. Now it threatens to become a way to handicap one political faction in the middle of a partisan free-for-all. In a season full of appalling and sickening losses, this is just the latest one.

Eugene Robinson: We keep waiting for the ‘new normal.’ It might already be here.

We keep waiting to see what the “new normal” will be like. But I have the sinking feeling that it’s already here.

Social distancing has managed to keep the novel coronavirus pandemic from overwhelming the entire nation’s health-care system the way it did for a time in New York City. But the steep rise in covid-19 cases and deaths is not being followed by an equally steep decline. Rather, we seem to have reached some kind of plateau.

New York is clearly past its peak: New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all gradually going down. But those tragic numbers are still rising in much of the rest of the country. Covid-19 has become one of the leading causes of death in the nation. The New York Times reported that an internal Trump administration estimate predicts daily covid-19 deaths nationwide could rise to 3,000 by the beginning of June, roughly twice the daily toll right now.

et, as New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) noted Monday, draconian stay-at-home restrictions are “not a sustainable situation.” People will have to be let out of their homes. Children need to be educated. The economy will have to be gently roused from its induced coma.

Covid-19 can — and, I believe, someday will — be defeated by a safe and effective vaccine. But the fastest-ever vaccine development to date (for mumps) took four years. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said Sunday that it may be possible to have a covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year “on paper.” But written formulae, however brilliant, cannot be injected into veins.

So, for now, we’re going to have to find a way to coexist with this pathogen.

Catherine Rampell: If they’re heroes, pay and protect them like heroes

If they’re heroes, pay them like heroes — and protect them like the precious resources they are.

Americans nationwide have lavished praise upon “essential workers.” We cheer the front-liners tending to the sick, stocking groceries, delivering supplies, cleaning hospitals, processing meat and driving buses. So, too, does the president.

“Through it all, we have seen the heroism of our doctors and nurses like never before. These are our warriors. The bravery of our truck drivers, such bravery, and food suppliers,” President Trump said at a news conference last month. “Such incredible bravery.”

Such plaudits, though presumably welcome, haven’t shielded these pandemic “warriors” from growing ill and dying in staggering numbers.

The United States owes these workers more.