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: How America Lost the War on Covid-19

It wasn’t because of our culture, it was because of our leadership.

When did America start losing its war against the coronavirus? How did we find ourselves international pariahs, not even allowed to travel to Europe? [..]

But why did America bungle Covid-19 so badly?

There has been a fair bit of commentary to the effect that our failed pandemic response was deeply rooted in American culture. We are, the argument goes, too libertarian, too distrustful of government, too unwilling to accept even slight inconveniences to protect others.

And there’s surely something to this. I don’t think any other advanced country (but are we still an advanced country?) has a comparable number of people who respond with rage when asked to wear a mask in a supermarket. There definitely isn’t any other advanced country where demonstrators against public health measures would wave guns around and invade state capitols. And the Republican Party is more or less unique among major Western political parties in its hostility to science in general.

But what strikes me, when looking at America’s extraordinary pandemic failure, is how top-down it all was.

Jamelle Bouie: Maybe This Isn’t Such a Good Time to Prosecute a Culture War

Trump has gone to the well one time too many.

Donald Trump made his name in Republican Party politics as a “birther,” a true believer in — and an evangelist for — the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was a foreign-born, illegitimate president. Having stoked a wave of white grievance and resentment, Trump rode it, first to influence — let’s not forget that Mitt Romney came to receive Trump’s endorsement in person during the 2012 presidential race — and then to the summit of power as president himself.

Now, because of a pandemic Trump refuses to address (“We need to live with it,” officials in his administration say), his power is at risk. If the election were held today, Trump would almost certainly lose in a landslide. His sole good fortune at the moment is that the election won’t be held for another four months, giving him time to close his 10-point gap with Joe Biden and turn his campaign around.

But to do that, Trump would have to take responsibility for and respond to events properly. He would have to show the voting public that he is capable of presidential leadership. And this, more than anything, is beyond both his interest and his ability. Trump does not want to govern and could not do it if he tried.

Karen Tumulty: Four more years? Four more months will be hard enough.

If you had to pick the moment at which the modern Republican Party reached the zenith of its political dominance, it would be the 1984 landslide in which Ronald Reagan picked up nearly 98 percent of the electoral votes — one of the biggest blowouts in history.

“The tide of history is moving irresistibly in our direction,” Reagan said a few months later. “Why? Because the other side is virtually bankrupt of ideas. It has nothing more to say, nothing to add to the debate. It has spent its intellectual capital — such as it was.”

Today, what Reagan once said of “the other side” could easily apply to the Republican Party, which in the course of four short years has remade itself in the backward-looking, intellectually incoherent image of Donald Trump.

There are still nearly 120 days to go until the November election — and it will surely feel more like 1,200. But at this point, polling both nationally and in the battleground states shows Trump falling further and further behind Democratic nominee-in-waiting Joe Biden.

Donna F. Edwards: The game’s in the fourth quarter, and Trump can barely get a first down

It’s not football season yet, but we sports fans are clamoring for any relief during this pandemic devoid of athletics. So in recent days, I have begun to think of the next four months leading up to the presidential election as the last quarter of the biggest game of the year — the Super Bowl. So far, President Trump is playing the championship as if he doesn’t want to win. Who would have predicted that in the face of losing, this president who clearly does not like losers would not alter his game plan in the fourth quarter? But here we are.

In the latest set of national polls, Trump trails Joe Biden by between eight and 12 points depending on the poll. In the key battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Trump is underwater, too. His job approval sits at just 39 percent. He’s hemorrhaging suburban white women and seniors. In short, he’s losing.

On the issue front, Trump’s head is not in the game, either. [..]

It looks bad for Trump, but it’s not over. He’s trailing by a couple of touchdowns. The clock is running out, but he’s throwing five-yard passes. His fans are cheering the completions, but he is also getting sacked and can barely manage a first down. And while Trump has reverted to his division strategy, it is still a 100-yard game, and the winner must play the full four quarters. Given the depths to which he has been willing to go, come November Biden and America will need to be on the lookout for Trump’s Hail Mary.

Amanda Marcotte: Donald Trump’s re-election bet: American voters are still racist at heart

Polling data shows both Trump and racism are unpopular — but he’s going all-in on faith the polls are wrong

On the Fourth of July, a day meant to celebrate American independence, Donald Trump once again focused on creating a racist spectacle. Despite concerns about spreading the coronavirus and starting wildfires, Trump insisted on having a fireworks-heavy celebration at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, which was clearly a campaign rally no matter how much the taxpayers were bilked for it. Of course the president’s speech was pure culture-war vitriol, complete with classic Trumpian projection, this time when he called anti-racist activists “fascists,” an extraordinary word choice that obviously better suits him.

Despite the propaganda photos equating Trump with the carving of Abraham Lincoln on the mountain, his speech was once again better understood as a celebration of the Confederacy. Trump sniped at those who would “tear down our statues,” “defame our heroes” and “indoctrinate our children,” a slam clearly aimed at Black Lives Matter protesters who object to monuments celebrating white supremacy and who seek to “indoctrinate” people with the revolutionary argument that racism is wrong.

The trolling event played out as intended. The choice of Mount Rushmore, carved by a Ku Klux Klan-linked white supremacist who also carved the infamous tribute to the Confederacy on Stone Mountain in Georgia, helped drive home Trump’s campaign theme to his most overtly racist followers: White supremacy is the truest form of patriotism.