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: Political reporters can’t handle the truth: Trump is never going to “pivot”

Smell the covfefe: Trump’s brief, sulky briefing was no momentous “shift” — he’ll be ranting on Twitter soon enough

First things first: Donald Trump is not going to “pivot.” Yes, on Tuesday he stood at a podium and, in stiff and sulky fashion, said words that, as written, were relatively serious and realistic. He admitted the coronavirus pandemic will “get worse before it gets better.” He also claimed that his administration is “developing a strategy” to combat the pandemic, after months of foisting it off on the states and then lambasting any state that tried to take serious measures, while rewarding governors who pushed to reopen businesses and damn the consequences. He said he’d wear a mask now, after months of implying that only soy-boys and wieners wear masks.

These are all words that Trump said. But they don’t mean anything. As Dan Rather sagely observed on Twitter, Trump “does not pivot” and whatever temporary behavior we see on display, he will always, always, always revert to being “who he is, and always has been,” which is to say a rancid monster with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Unfortunately, much of the media coverage gave an entirely different impression, presenting Trump’s performance at Tuesday’s press briefing as if it represented a real shift, and seeding the absolutely false hope that Trump might actually start doing something to fight the coronavirus, instead of acting like the coronavirus’s biggest champion. [..]

We’ve been down this road dozens of times before: Trump, facing bad press, sucks it up and, with the posture of a kid being dragged to the dentist, feigns being presidential for a few minutes. Then, with the predictability of a clock, he gets sick of all this “acting respectable” nonsense and goes right back to his preferred
mode: vitriol, incompetence and asserting that everything is “great” no matter how bad it gets.

Heather Digby Parton: Defund Homeland Security: Creating a massive federal police apparatus was always a mistake

We built and funded a federal secret-police agency, and now it’s being used against us. Why are we surprised?

It seems like only yesterday that Republicans were wringing their hands and rending their garments over federal officers attempting to arrest a large group of armed militia members who had taken over a federal building in Oregon and were refusing to leave. (The 2016 “Oregon standoff” is the subject of Anthony McCann’s fascinating book “Shadowlands.”) They were led by Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who triggered an earlier standoff with government forces in 2014, and they said they were planning to occupy the building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge “for years” as a protest against the conviction of two local ranchers who had been found guilty of arson for setting fire to government land. After six weeks of negotiating with federal authorities, the protesters were finally dispersed. Some did time but Ammon Bundy and a dozen others were tried and acquitted. [..]

I bring that story up now only because as we have watched the events unfold in Portland, Oregon, over the past few days — a few hours west of the Malheur refuge — with federal police in full military regalia attacking and kidnapping protesters, I’m struck by the deafening silence from all those erstwhile defenders of free speech and the right to protest. I guess in order for them to speak out, the protesters have to be carrying AR-15s.

Trump’s decision to send in DHS stormtroopers to Portland is anything but surprising. He’s been telegraphing his intention to do this since the George Floyd murder sparked protests in the beginning of June. And let’s be clear about the reasons. Trump doesn’t care about American cities or statues or “anarchy” or any of the rest of it. He cares about getting re-elected, and since he doesn’t know how to deal with the pandemic crisis, he figured he could use the Black Lives Matter protests to spark a white backlash that will carry him to victory.

Jennifer Senior: I Spoke With Anthony Fauci. He Says His Inbox Isn’t Pretty.

An interview with the man who has an important message for you, if he can get it out.

Americans may have lost faith in their most cherished institutions — the presidency, Congress, the media, perhaps even democracy itself — but 65 percent of them still believe in Dr. Anthony Fauci.

This, in spite of the fact that he’s practically disappeared from network and cable television while the pandemic has whipped through the country with alarming speed (his message of sober realism does not, one suspects, align well with the wishful thinking of his boss).

This, in spite of the fact that the Trump White House waged a highly unusual campaign last week to undermine his credibility, with both named and unnamed administration officials dispatched to impale him like an hors d’oeuvre. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and he’s been the custodian of a jittery nation’s sanity since March 2020.

We had a chance to speak nine hours before the president’s first coronavirus news briefing since April. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.

Karen Tumulty: Four years ago, Trump said he alone could fix things. What isn’t worse now?

The sight of Donald Trump standing by himself behind the briefing room lectern, doing his best to sound presidential and in command of a crisis, was a reminder of a milestone to which no one at the White House cared to draw attention.

Tuesday — the day that Trump delivered his first coronavirus briefing in months — also marked the fourth anniversary of his acceptance of the 2016 Republican nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland. It was there that he so memorably declared to thousands of cheering delegates and a national television audience: “I alone can fix it.”

Today, it is hard to find any measure by which the country is not feeling more insecure and worse off than it did when Trump was elected.

As the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus was rising toward 140,000, Trump said his administration is “in the process of developing a strategy that’s going to be very, very powerful.” But he offered no clue of what that plan might be, or why he has yet to have any plan at all more than five months after covid-19 claimed its first victim in this country.

Though the president acknowledged that the pandemic is likely to “get worse before it gets better” — a more realistic assessment than his customary “light at the end of the tunnel” talk — Trump continued to congratulate himself for a job well done. [..]

What Trump needs to do now is prove that he is up to the job of calming the country and leading it through this dark time. But instead, he is reverting to the 2016 culture-warfare playbook, painting scary and baseless pictures of a dystopian future if Biden and the Democrats are put back in power.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Investment in child care can’t wait until there’s a coronavirus vaccine

Our economy cannot function without child care. That simple fact has been brought into stark relief by the recent pandemic, which has forced parents across the country to choose between supporting their family financially and caring for their children.

“In the Covid-19 economy, you can have a kid or a job,” wrote Deb Perelman in the New York Times, “But you can’t have both.” That’s hardly an exaggeration. With school districts contemplating virtual or partial reopenings in the fall, many of the nation’s 50 million working parents will have to fill gaps in child care. Already, 13 percent of American parents have had to either quit a job or cut back their working hours because of a lack of child care.

This crisis isn’t new. For years, working families have struggled with the rising cost of child care and the difficulty of finding licensed providers. [..]

Then there’s access. Before the pandemic, half the population lived in child-care deserts — “areas with little or no licensed child care capacity.” Now, these deserts have become complete wastelands. More than half of licensed child-care centers have closed as a result of the pandemic, many of them for good. CAP estimates that these closures could impact 4.5 million children, the majority of them from middle- and low-income families.

Our child-care system is on the brink of collapse, and working parents and our economy are at a breaking point. Something has to give.