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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Aid to the unemployed saved us from disaster. Now it’s gone.
For the most part, America under Donald Trump’s leadership has offered an object lesson in how not to handle a pandemic. Delay and denial deprived us of any chance of containing the coronavirus’s early spread; impatience and further denial led to a huge second wave of infections.
It’s true that employment and G.D.P. plunged, which was inevitable given the need to shutter activities that were spreading the virus. But the employment decline was concentrated in sectors like leisure and entertainment; it didn’t spread to the economy as a whole. And despite huge wage losses, poverty didn’t soar — some estimates suggest that it may even have declined slightly.
But notice the past tense. The Republican National Convention may have pretended that the pandemic was over, but the virus doesn’t agree. That effective economic response, on the other hand, is over. Trump, you might say, did one good thing this year — but now he’s stopped doing it.
And it was Trump’s own party, responding to his leadership or lack thereof, that killed the only praiseworthy aspect of his coronavirus policy.
Eugene Robinson: Scared that Trump can come back to beat Biden? Good.
Anyone who is hair-on-fire alarmed that President Trump might lie, cheat and steal his way to reelection should hold on to that attitude through Election Day. Joe Biden is much more likely to win if he and his supporters act as if he’s losing.
So yes, be paranoid that Trump’s encouragement of right-wing violence in Kenosha, Wis., might tip that vital swing state in his favor. Worry that Democrats are not paying enough attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania; that Biden’s polling lead in Florida might be a mirage; and that states such as Georgia and Arizona might not really be as purple as they now appear to be.
Then act vigorously on those concerns, and be confident that if you do, Trump is toast. [..]
Historically, it takes at least a week or two to know whether the conventions had any lasting impact on voters’ intentions. And Biden’s present lead in the national polls — an average of 6.9 percent, according to RealClearPolitics — remains massive by recent election standards. But it is good to remember that no lead is unassailable, and that the race is considerably closer in swing states.
As America’s intelligence professionals seek to carry out their responsibilities to brief Congress on foreign efforts to interfere in this November’s election, they face far greater challenges than ever before in striking the right balance between sharing intelligence with Congress and preventing its misuse.
In 2016, I was fortunate to work for a president and with a director of national intelligence who had no personal or partisan agendas that affected the ability of the intelligence community to fulfill its statutory obligations to keep Congress “fully and currently informed” on national security matters, including Russian interference in our elections.
In 2020, however, the situation is far different, as President Trump has shown utter contempt for the independence, objectivity and apolitical integrity of the intelligence community. And, since he has made no secret of his intention to do whatever necessary to stay in office beyond January 2021, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will attempt to suffocate the flow of any intelligence to Congress that could upend his ruthless ambition.
Donald Trump loves it when his supporters get arrested, hurt or killed on his behalf. But they just keep doing it
There are a seemingly infinite number of stories about how Donald Trump is the worst kind of person in every possible way, so readers can be forgiven if they missed or forgot this one: In 1991, Trump, ever the soulless troll, took his then-mistress, Marla Maples, to Aspen, Colorado, to spring her on his then-wife, Ivana Trump. Accounts of the specific details vary, but converge on one central fact: The two women had a very public fight while Trump looked on, apparently with pleasure. Trump’s main memory of the event was to bask in the envy of another man who witnessed the fight, because every story Trump tells about himself (most of which, of course, aren’t true) is about how everyone else wishes they could be as awesome as him.
That story has always stuck with me because it was a shining example of one of the most predictable aspects of Trump’s character: His ego comes first, always.
Trump is more than willing to harm people who care about him — his wife, his mistress, his supporters — if doing so feeds his endlessly hungry ego. Furthermore, he will actively do harm to his own self-interest, as in that instance, when he chose the ego boost of watching two women fight over him over material concerns, such as how much he might lose to Ivana in a divorce for engaging in such abusive behavior.
I think about that Ivana vs. Marla fight a lot these days, as Trump is openly and unsubtly encouraging his followers to get injured, arrested or even killed on his behalf. Trump has been egging on caravans of right-wing goons to descend on cities where Black Lives Matter protests are occurring going on, in hopes they will start fights with protesters.
Catherine Rampell: Trump boasts about a great economic record. Too bad it’s Obama’s.
In recent days, President Trump and allies have offered a fulsome defense of a presidential economic record.
Alas, the presidential record they’re describing isn’t Trump’s. It belongs to his predecessor, Barack Obama. And perhaps also to Obama’s second-in-command, Joe Biden.
Team Trump, in promulgating the myth of Trump’s economic genius, has recently doubled down on a false narrative: that Trump inherited a recession and magically turned it into a boom. This is almost the exact reverse of events of the past 3½ years. In reality Trump inherited from Obama an expansion — one that, in retrospect, turned out to be the longest in U.S. history — and converted it into a bust.
Not just any bust; a possible depression, at least for the working class.
Now, my standard disclaimer applies: Presidents generally get too much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when the economy is bad. They don’t control the business cycle and can affect things only on the margin. For example, they could bungle the response to an existing downturn (by, ahem, appointing incompetent aides, discrediting real experts, increasing distrust in government statistics, alienating crucial allies — that sort of thing).
But Trump has asked to be judged by cold, hard economic metrics. So let’s indulge him.