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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Amanda Marcotte: Jeff Sessions’ downfall: The wages of loyalty to Donald Trump is public humiliation

Trump is a vampire who feeds off his own followers — and no one deserved to be drained more than Jeff Sessions

Former senator and disgraced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally come, at age 73, to what is almost certainly the end of the road for his villainous political career. On Tuesday night, the right-wing Republican who served as a U.S. senator from 1997 to 2017 lost in his comeback attempt, defeated in the Republican primary for his old seat by Tommy Tuberville, a man whose cartoonish name better suited his previous career as head football coach at Auburn. The runoff election between the two wasn’t even close, with the Riverboat Gambler (a silly and self-serious nickname for Tuberville, especially when “The Tubz” was right there for the taking) taking more than 60% of the vote.

It’s tempting, since we’re talking about Alabama, to believe that the Tubz (I can’t help it) won on a wave of goodwill from the famously football-fanatical voters of that state. That fails to take into account that Tuberville may well be regarded as one of history’s greatest monsters in the parts of the state that Roll Tide.

No, the reason that Tuberville won is likely due to something far more sinister than inappropriate of confidence in the governing skills of college football coaches: Alabama Republicans are hyper-loyal to Donald Trump, and Trump told them to vote for Tuberville. [..]

But let us not shed tears for Sessions, for whom the phrase “hoisted by his own petard” may as well have been invented. In a world where so few evil people get any form of justice, we should allow ourselves the pleasure of laughing deeply, richly and at length at Sessions for this public humiliation. Sessions did this to himself. He, more than anyone else in power, invited Trump into our political system, and he knows exactly how Trump repays his loyalists: With a boot to the face and a laugh about what a simp you were to believe in him.

Richard Wolfe: Trump may be no good at leading America – but he’s really, really good at lying

US credibility has been contorted to protect the feelings of one man-child. No wonder he finds Anthony Fauci so offensive

t’s outrageous to say that Donald Trump is good at nothing.

He may be no good at leading the country through a pandemic and recession. He may be no good at healing a nation that is deeply scarred by racist power. He may be no good at diplomacy with his allies, or even recognising America’s enemies for what they are.

But he is really, really good at lying. An Olympic-standard, Guinness Book of Records fabricator of falsehoods. He regurgitates lies as rapidly and copiously as Joey Chestnut swallows hotdogs.

Trump represents the historic high-water mark for verbal cheating, which is surely the only part of his short legacy that will feature in US history exams in 2030.

According to the exhausted and exhaustive factchecking team at the Washington Post, Trump’s rate of lying is shaped remarkably like the country’s exponential rise in Covid-19 cases.

It took him 827 days to reach his first 10,000 lies, but just 440 days to reach his second 10,000 lies. [..]

Credibility was one of the most potent weapons in America’s arsenal of soft power. The kind of potency that allowed Kennedy’s secretary of state to convince Charles de Gaulle to support his case against the Soviet Union in the Cuban missile crisis. Based on Kennedy’s word, not the photographic evidence.

Today America’s credibility has been contorted to protect the feelings of one man-child, not the security of a nation. That’s why someone like Anthony Fauci is so deeply offensive to the factory of fraud built inside this White House.

Frank Figliuzzi: Trump’s Rose Garden speech was a warning to China — and American 2020 voters

Listen carefully as the president and his team ratchet up their finger-pointing at China while claiming a foreign power will exploit mail-in ballots.

China will likely be the next foreign power accused of undermining a U.S. presidential election — it just doesn’t know it yet. The Trump administration, through words and deeds, appears to be grooming the American voter to accept an eventual assertion that China sabotaged the 2020 election if the outcome doesn’t go President Donald Trump’s way.

At the president’s Rose Garden news conference Tuesday, as in other public comments over the last few months, Trump bashed China, painted former Vice President Joe Biden as a “gift to communist China” and raised the specter of massive mail-in ballot fraud in November.

These distinct elements are neither isolated nor random. Their increasingly frequent juxtaposition signals a potential prophylactic strategy in the making. The seeds of such a strategy were sowed during the onset of the coronavirus in the late winter and continued to be cultivated in the spring and into the summer, and it should be ready for Trump and his cohorts to harvest in the fall. If his plan bears fruit, the strategy will wreak chaos and confusion amid a contested election result by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the vote tally. The strategy can be fairly easily broken down into four broad parts, three of which are already unfolding.

Max Boot: Trump can’t land a blow on Biden, and it’s driving him crazy

President Trump has never had much of a positive program — and he certainly doesn’t have one today. Asked repeatedly to explain his second-term agenda, he has been unable to articulate anything except his trademark list of grievances, vanities and resentments.

But in the past, it didn’t matter much because he was so effective at tearing down his opponents with insults, nasty nicknames and baseless charges. He couldn’t make most voters like him, but he could convince them to hate his opponent. In 2016, he did quite a number on “Crooked Hillary” with the aid of Russian intelligence. Former attorney general Jeff Sessions’s defeat in the Alabama Senate primary shows that Trump hasn’t entirely lost his touch for tearing down the objects of his wrath.

But, as Trump made clear in his Rose Garden news conference-turned-campaign rally on Tuesday, he hasn’t had any luck so far in battering his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Trump prides himself on being a “counterpuncher,” but none of his punches have landed yet. He hasn’t even managed to tag Biden with a nasty nickname — neither “Corrupt Joe” nor “Sleepy Joe” has stuck in the way that “Low Energy Jeb” or “Lil’ Marco” did.

The problem, from Trump’s perspective, is that Biden isn’t an African American like Barack Obama, a woman like Hillary Clinton or a socialist like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He’s a boring, moderate white guy who has been around forever without ever being demonized in the way that Clinton was for decades. Even his base voters will have trouble seeing Uncle Joe as someone who is plotting to promote a “far-left fascism” and to “end America” — the accusations that Trump hurled at the left on July 3. As Biden himself would say in his charming throwback way: “C’mon man!”

Greg Sargent: Don’t get fooled by Trump’s cynical new scam on the coronavirus

President Trump and his advisers are a crackerjack bunch, so they’ve quickly figured out that it’s bad politics to be seen overtly undermining the nation’s top infectious-disease expert amid a pandemic that’s surging in part due to Trump’s own disastrous incompetence.

So they are working to create the impression in multiple ways that Trump and Anthony Fauci are in the process of patching things up, and are totally on the same team. Some news organizations are taking the bait, claiming that the White House is now approaching Fauci with a “change in tone.”

Don’t get snowed by this new scam.

What’s really going on here is a kind of two-step, a double game. Trump and his advisers want him to reap the political benefits of appearing to harbor general respect for Fauci’s expertise, while simultaneously continuing to undermine Fauci’s actual claims about the threat the novel coronavirus will continue to pose — because those claims badly undermine Trump’s reelection message.

The White House is frantically scrambling to undo the political damage Trump continues to sustain after unnamed aides leaked campaign-style opposition research designed to undermine public confidence in Fauci. [..]

But something fundamental is getting lost: the reason the White House is undermining Fauci in the first place.