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 and the Attack of the Invisible Anarchists
Lurid fantasies about urban hellscapes are all he has left.
On Thursday morning I walked across much of Manhattan and back again. (Why are all the doctors’ offices on the East Side?) It was a beautiful day, and the city looked cheerful: Shops were open, people were drinking coffee in the sidewalk seating areas that have proliferated during the pandemic, Central Park was full of joggers and cyclists.
But I must have been imagining all that, because Donald Trump assures me that New York is beset by “anarchy, violence and destruction.”
With only two months left in the presidential campaign, Trump has evidently decided that he can neither run on his own record nor effectively attack Joe Biden. Instead, he’s running against anarchists who, he insists, secretly rule the Democratic Party and are laying waste to America’s cities.
There’s not much to be said about Trump’s claims that people “in the dark shadows” control Biden and that mysterious people dressed in black are menacing Republicans, except that not long ago it would have been inconceivable for any major-party politician to engage in this kind of conspiracy theorizing.
There’s a bit more to be said about his claims of rampant violence and destruction in “anarchic jurisdictions” — namely, that these claims bear little resemblance to the mostly peaceful reality.
As President Trump frantically tries to frighten voters with the specter of “anarchists” and “looters” and planes full of black-clad “bad people” coming to menace your suburban neighborhood, take a trip down memory lane. Recall those desperate days of 2018, when the nation was sacked, pillaged and reduced to smoking ruins by vast, unstoppable caravans of marauding Latino migrants.
Except the invasion never arrived; the invading force, as Trump depicted it, never even existed. Which is my point.
This is not the first time Trump has tried to manufacture fear and loathing to swing an election in his favor. Two years ago, it didn’t work. Democrats seized control of the House, flipping 40 seats and transforming Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from minority leader into speaker.
That doesn’t mean the ploy is certain to fail now: Americans are under great strain from the covid-19 pandemic and the economic consequences of suppressing it. But 2018 does provide some context for Trump’s decision to use the continuing protests for racial justice as a wedge issue, abandoning any pretense of trying to promote understanding or heal long-festering wounds. Anyone who thinks this strategy is a guaranteed winner for Trump is simply wrong.
Voter suppression, legal dirty tricks and right-wing militias: Trump’s list of 2020 tactics is becoming clear
Donald Trump knows he is unlikely to win a fair election in 2020. But his strategies to cheat are so numerous and scattershot — did you catch that story about how acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blocked a report about Russian propaganda? — that it’s tempting to take comfort in the hope that he has no overarching strategy to fake or steal a second term.
In truth, however, the sheer number of schemes in play is all the more reason to worry, because it shows Trump’s team is flexible and capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Worse yet, it shows they have a number of fallback plans. If one effort fails, then another effort might just work. Attacking our democracy on multiple fronts depletes the resources (time, money, energy) of their opponents, making it likelier that one effort will break through and be successful.
There is good news, however. A combination of Trump’s big mouth, the continued courage of whistleblowers and the fact that Republicans have to conduct a lot of their scheming through the media means that, with two months to go, Trump’s plans to distort, subvert or flat-out steal the election have come into view. Democrats, and anyone else who still believes in democracy, can avoid being caught flat-footed. What’s required is to take all this seriously, instead of hiding behind increasingly foolish hopes that it can’t happen here.
Because folks inevitably object to any proposal that Trump is scheming, on the grounds that he’s too dumb to pull any such thing off, let’s just get this out of the way: Trump doesn’t need to be smart. He just needs to surround himself with smart but immoral people. There’s significant evidence he has done just that.
Fred Kaplan: It’s Time for Trump’s Generals to Go on the Record
Anonymously sourced horror stories just won’t cut it.
A new article by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg could sink President Donald Trump’s prospects for reelection—but only if one more thing happens. [..]
udging from a recent poll in Military Times, Trump has already lost favor among active-duty military officers. The statements quoted in the Atlantic article could sink his presidency.
There is an obstacle, though. Goldberg notes that a White House spokesperson emailed him, after the story was posted, denouncing the entire report as “false.” Later in the evening, Trump himself tweeted that the story was “more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!”
The denial might carry some weight because all of Goldberg’s sources—some of them generals, including at least one four-star general—spoke to him on background (meaning they could be quoted but not identified by name). And so, it becomes a matter of Goldberg’s word versus Trump’s—or, in the eyes of Trump supporters, a “fake-news reporter” versus “my president.” As a result, the story, which would otherwise be political dynamite so close to an election, might shift few, if any, votes.
Here, then, is my proposal: If these stories are true, Goldberg’s sources—especially the generals, the more highly decorated, the better—must go on the record.
Trump urged his supporters to test a system that doesn’t take kindly to being tested.
During a Wednesday rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to vote twice—once by mail, then a second time in person—in order to ensure their ballots were counted.
This approach to voting would be a felony under North Carolina law. Subsequently, Trump claimed that officials will just throw out duplicate ballots. No harm, no foul. In North Carolina, there are a number of checks in place to make sure no one votes twice, including electronic poll books and post-election audits. Results of such checks are referred to local prosecutors who then decide how to move forward.
And, considering the overzealous nature of some district attorneys in North Carolina when it comes to voting, Trump is potentially doing his supporters a disservice—or at least ignoring recent history—by suggesting they can cast an unlawful ballot in the state without consequence.