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: America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did.

Partisanship has crippled our response.

Earlier this year much of America went through hell as the nation struggled to deal with Covid-19. More than 120,000 Americans have now died; more than 20 million have lost their jobs.

But it’s looking as if all those sacrifices were in vain. We never really got the coronavirus under control, and now infections, while they have fallen to a quite low level in the New York area, the pandemic’s original epicenter, are surging in much of the rest of the country.

And the bad news isn’t just a result of more testing. In new hot spots like Arizona — where testing capacity is being overwhelmed — and Houston the fraction of tests coming up positive is soaring, which shows that the disease is spreading rapidly.

It didn’t have to be this way. The European Union, a hugely diverse area with a larger population than the U.S., has been far more successful at limiting the spread of Covid-19 than we have. What went wrong?

The immediate answer is that many U.S. states ignored warnings from health experts and rushed to reopen their economies, and far too many people failed to follow basic precautions like wearing face masks and avoiding large groups. But why was there so much foolishness?

Well, I keep seeing statements to the effect that Americans were too impatient to stay the course, too unwilling to act responsibly. But this is deeply misleading, because it avoids confronting the essence of the problem. Americans didn’t fail the Covid-19 test; Republicans did.

Kara Swisher: A Suicide, an App and a Time for a Reckoning

Companies like the stock-trading app Robinhood can seem not just careless but also predatory.

I spent a lot of time this week trying to come up with the best way to get those who make things in Silicon Valley to better understand the suicide of Alex Kearns, a student at the University of Nebraska. He killed himself after he mistakenly believed that he had a $730,000 negative balance on the millennial-popular Robinhood app, which he had downloaded to learn about investing.

The tragedy got a lot of attention, especially after Forbes reported that Mr. Kearns left a note behind asking, “How was a 20-year-old with no income able to get assigned almost a million dollars of leverage?”

How, indeed.

Embedded in that query is a much bigger one that has been plaguing the tech industry and its innovative entrepreneurs for far too long: What is the reason for their persistent tendency to ignore the potentially dangerous impact of their creations? These days the companies can seem not just careless but also predatory.

Ruy Teixeira: Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump?

They’re senior voters, and they could be Joe Biden’s secret weapon.

Joe Biden may be ahead in national and many battleground polls, but Democrats are still fretting about whether key constituencies will turn out in November. In particular, they worry about the level of support from young black and Hispanic voters — for good reason.

Mr. Biden’s margins among these groups, particularly African-Americans, tend to lag Hillary Clinton’s margins in the 2016 election (though the gap is smaller if you compare Mr. Biden’s margins now to Mrs. Clinton’s at the same point in her 2016 campaign). And young voters were notably unenthusiastic about the former vice president during the primary season.

But the Democrats have a secret weapon in 2020 on the other side of the age spectrum: senior voters. Among this age group — voters 65 and older — polls so far this year reveal a dramatic shift to the Democrats. That could be the most consequential political development of this election.

Eugene Robinson: It’s almost as if Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party

Let me summarize the Republican platform for the coming election:

We are the party of white racial grievance. We believe those marching in Black Lives Matter protests are “thugs.” We see the term “systemic racism” as an unfair attack on white people. We support keeping Confederate monuments on their pedestals, and we have no idea why anyone would consider Confederate flags a problem. We are equal-opportunity racists. We see Latino immigrants as “bad hombres.” And we believe that using the racist term “kung flu” to describe covid-19 is hilarious, not least because we are convinced the covid-19 pandemic is basically over, anyway. Who cares what pointy-headed “experts” might say — we know in our hearts that patriotic Americans don’t wear masks.

Those are some of the views Republicans endorse by uncritically embracing and supporting President Trump. He is leading his party down a sewer of unabashed racism and willful ignorance, and all who follow him — and I mean all — deserve to feel the mighty wrath of voters in November. [..]

Trump’s antics are self-defeating. He’ll put on a racist show for a shrinking audience, but he won’t wear the masks that could allow the economic reopening he desperately wants. He may be able to avoid reality, but the Republican governors — including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — scrambling desperately to contain new outbreaks cannot.

It’s almost as though Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party. Let’s give him his wish.

Karen Tumulty: It’s time to rethink the presidential debates

Given how many ugly turns this presidential election year has already taken and how many more are surely yet to come, it is probably a fool’s errand to go in search of silver linings in 2020.

But the realities of campaigning amid a pandemic are forcing adjustments to the rituals of politics — some of which are for the better and long overdue.

I’ve written before about how the quadrennial party conventions have outlived their purpose. There is no suspense any more to these pointless, lobbyist-funded infomercials, and television audiences find them boring.

President Trump and the Republicans are clinging to the idea of holding a huge gathering this summer, but the Democrats made a wise move on Wednesday and announced that theirs will be drastically scaled back, physically speaking.

While former vice president Joe Biden will not be accepting his party’s nomination with the cheers of 20,000 people ringing in his ears, 21st-century technology — if used creatively — gives the Democrats an opportunity to make their convention a more broadly shared experience and an organizing tool for mobilizing support as the fall campaign gets underway.

Next up: It’s time to do some rethinking about the debates.