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’s Virus Is Spreading, and His Economy Is Stalling

The president leads a transition to sickness.

Just over two weeks ago The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Vice President Mike Pence titled “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave.’” The article was supposed to reassure the nation.

What it provided, instead, was a clear illustration of the delusions and magical thinking that have marked every step of the Trump administration’s response to Covid-19, producing an epic policy disaster.

Put it this way: By now, according to Trump officials and sycophants, we were supposed to be seeing a fading pandemic and a roaring recovery. Instead, we have a fading recovery and a roaring pandemic.

About the pandemic: The Pence article cheerily declared that “cases have stabilized,” with the daily average number of new cases only 20,000. Even that figure, as it happens, was five times the number in the European Union, which has a third more people than America does. Since then, however, new cases have soared, hitting more than 50,000 by some counts on Wednesday.

Indeed, at this point Arizona, with seven million people, is reporting around as many new cases each day as the whole E.U., with 446 million people. [..]

Right now we should be going all-out to bring the Covid-19 surge under control and making sure that Americans keep getting the economic aid they need. In reality, neither of those things is likely to happen. Infections and hospitalizations will soar further, and millions of Americans will lose crucial economic lifelines in a few weeks.

The next four months are going to be very, very ugly.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Re-election Message Is White Grievance

Republicans in D.C. just pretend not to see it.

A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican source told Reuters. “He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,” said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency.

It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is “white power.” [..]

There’s good reason to think that he’s misjudging these suburban voters. Polls show that a growing number of them, particularly women, are repelled by Trump’s race-baiting and divisiveness. But Republicans who complain that the president is undisciplined, that he can’t adhere to a strategy, miss the point: Bigotry has always been the strategy.

The Republicans who support him are yoked to that strategy. Their real frustration isn’t that it’s ugly but that it’s no longer working.


Amanda Marcotte: It’s going to be a long four months: Trump and Fox News just keep ramping up the racism

Desperate to distract from the coronavirus catastrophe, Trump and his media allies are going full-on rabid racism

Racism is all he’s got.

Everything else Donald Trump was going to run on this summer and fall has evaporated. The “booming” economy? (Which he inherited from Barack Obama in the first place.) The U.S. has the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the situation is about to get exponentially worse as unemployment benefits expire. And no, “reopening” is not a solution, since the data makes clear that consumers have little interest in shopping or eating out during a pandemic.

And then there was Trump’s plan to hold big rallies to make himself look like he’s got momentum, while Joe Biden campaigns in responsible ways that don’t spread the coronavirus Not only was that plan sociopathic, it’s also not working. Trump’s big comeback rally in Tulsa was a hilarious failure, with only a third of the arena filled. Now Trump has canceled a rally in Alabama, citing coronavirus fears. It’s just as likely that the campaign was scared of more empty seats — even some of his most ardent followers would rather root for him at home rather than risk getting sick.

Trump’s efforts to paint Biden as too old and out of it to do a job as difficult as being president? Well, in the face of reports that Trump did nothing to push back against Russia paying Afghan fighters to kill American soldiers, the only “defense” of Trump is that he’s either too lazy or too illiterate to pay attention to his intelligence briefings. For a 74-year-old man trying to argue he’s sharper than his slightly older opponent, having his press secretary argue that Trump does too know how to read is arguably not a great look.

As for the coronavirus itself, Trump is so hostile to any efforts to meaningfully fight the disease that people have started to wonder, only half-facetiously, whether he’s campaigning on a pro-coronavirus agenda.


Eugene Robiinson: We’re No. 1! In a pandemic, that’s no cause for celebration.

The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse in this country. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, we are forced to see the concept of American exceptionalism in a new and shameful light. In confronting this global menace, the United States is not first and best. We are much closer to last and worst.

History will place the blame for this catastrophe squarely on one ignorant, incompetent, selfish man: President Trump.

On two consecutive days this week, the nation recorded more than 50,000 new cases of the disease. On Wednesday, Trump, for the umpteenth time, irresponsibly promised the disease will somehow just “disappear.”

Governors who reopened their economies too quickly saw their states’ hospital systems buckle under the strain. Some of them, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, scrambled to reimpose restrictions. Trump, by contrast, invited crowds to a Mount Rushmore fireworks show, no masks or social distancing required. [..]

The impact of covid-19 in the United States was bound to be bad. No leader could have avoided that, given how infectious the coronavirus that causes it appears to be, and how long it was spreading while officials and citizens were largely unaware of the threat. But it didn’t have to be the worst in the world. American exceptionalism under Trump, tragically, amounts to epic failure.

Jennifer Rubin: Nancy Pelosi calls out Trump’s con

Following a briefing on Russia’s payment for bounties on U.S. troops, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) put out a succinct statement, ending with this: “Our Armed Forces would be better served if President Trump spent more time reading his daily briefing and less time planning military parades and defending relics of the Confederacy.” That statement and Pelosi’s remarks in her weekly news conference appear to confirm news reports that the matter was included in Trump’s daily briefing (which the White House has denied).

At her news conference on the day before the start of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Pelosi all but declared Trump AWOL from his post as commander in chief. Careful not to tie her remarks to the Gang of Eight briefing, she asserted, “Of course, the president should have been briefed. This is of the highest priority. Force protection, a threat to our men and women in uniform.” She continued, “It was in his PDB, presidential daily brief, but it wasn’t verbally [relayed],” adding: “That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have read that.” [..]

She is right, of course. We have seen a familiar pattern of deflection and misdirection on this scandal. First, Trump was not “briefed.” (Well, he was briefed through the PDB.) But it was a hoax. (Then why was it in the PDB?) The upshot is that Trump, to this day, has taken no action in defense of our troops. At a time when the Kremlin was placing bounties on the heads of our servicemen and women, he was calling for Russia to be let into the Group of Seven.