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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Karen Tumulty: What Bob Woodward’s book tells us about Trump

It is hardly surprising when President Trump says something that turns out not to be true.

What has not always been clear, however, is what drives him to lie so constantly. Is it because he’s ignorant? Or because he is deluded? Or simply that he is malevolent? The possibilities are not necessarily exclusive of one another.

Now, thanks to The Post’s Bob Woodward, we have learned the answer with regard to what history is likely to rank as perhaps the most consequential of all the falsehoods that Trump has uttered. [..]

The consequences of Trump’s refusal to be straight with the country, we now know, have been tragic.

Rather than taking cautionary measures that could have spared immeasurable suffering, such as assuring that adequate testing was available, the president denied what he knew was true. Or, as he so memorably put it at a news conference in March: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

In that case, however, Trump was telling us something fundamental about himself. Those six words are both the most fitting epitaph for his presidency, and the central reason that Americans should put an end to it when they go to the polls in November.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s claim he didn’t want “panic” is laughable — he wants it focused on imaginary threats

Trump doesn’t want “panic” over 190,000 dead — but he’s begging voters to panic over antifa invading “the suburbs”

On Wednesday morning, veteran journalist Bob Woodward released audio recordings of two damning interviews with Donald Trump, conducted in the weeks before the coronavirus pandemic swept the U.S. In those conversations, the president revealed that he was knowingly lying to the public about the dangers of COVID-19.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, when the transmission rate was still low and there was a real chance of containing the virus — but only by telling the truth about the risks so the public would take the problem seriously. [..]

“I don’t want to create panic, as you say,” Trump claimed at a White House event Wednesday afternoon, adding that he lied to the public in order to “show confidence.”

This is transparent BS. The reality is that people needed to “panic” over the coronavirus, or at least to become seriously concerned and alarmed. All that means, in this context, is taking the virus seriously and following public health recommendations to keep from transmitting it. Trump’s desire to delude the public was rooted in a total lack of concern for anyone but himself and his desire to gaslight his way to re-election.

But also, the truth is that Trump loves it when people panic — but only over imaginary threats he’s conjured up to distract them from the economic collapse and a pandemic that may kill close to 250,000 people by Election Day.

Jesse Wegman: The Electoral College Will Destroy America

And no, New York and California would not dominate a popular vote.

Last week, Nate Silver, the polling analyst, tweeted a chart illustrating the chances that Joe Biden would become president if he wins the most votes in November.

The “if” is probably unnecessary. It’s hard to find anyone who disputes that Mr. Biden will win the most votes. This isn’t a liberal’s fantasy. In a recent panel discussion among four veteran Republican campaign managers, one acknowledged, “We’re going to lose the popular vote.” Another responded, “Oh, that’s a given.” The real question is will Mr. Biden win enough more votes than President Trump to overcome this year’s bias in the Electoral College. [..]

The Electoral College as it functions today is the most glaring reminder of many that our democracy is not fair, not equal and not representative. No other advanced democracy in the world uses anything like it, and for good reason. The election, as Mr. Trump would say — though not for the right reasons — is rigged.

The main problem with the Electoral College today is not, as both its supporters and detractors believe, the disproportionate power it gives smaller states. Those states do get a boost from their two Senate-based electoral votes, but that benefit pales in comparison to the real culprit: statewide winner-take-all laws. Under these laws, which states adopted to gain political advantage in the nation’s early years, even though it was never raised by the framers — states award all their electors to the candidate with the most popular votes in their state. The effect is to erase all the voters in that state who didn’t vote for the top candidate.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Deliberate Coronavirus Deception

Bob Woodward’s tapes tell us something new about how the president lies.

Recordings, real or rumored, have been a leitmotif of the Trump era. [..]

Trump recordings loom so large because they offer the prospect of breaking through his alternative reality, of nailing down this most slippery and mendacious of presidents, of showing everyone who he really is. But even those that materialize are often quickly forgotten, as Trump’s approval rating stays low but stubbornly stable and one scandal is eclipsed by another. Our politics suffers no shortage of incontrovertible proof of Trump’s venality. What it lacks is accountability.

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that the famed journalist Bob Woodward’s utterly damning tapes of Trump discussing the coronavirus will fall into this same nothing-matters cycle. But decent people with public platforms should try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

t’s not just that these tapes reveal the president lying about the pandemic that has ravaged America on his watch. What’s shocking — even after more than three and a half numbing years — is the deliberate, willful nature of the lies. Unlike most Trump tapes, Woodward’s actually tell us something new about the president, rather than just confirming what we think we already know.

Michelle Cottle: Even Big Pharma Is Turning On Trump

The president is the Coronavirus vaccine’s worst hype man.

President Trump has become so shameless about subverting the public interest to his political self-interest that Big Pharma — not generally regarded as the most civic-minded of entities — is now scrambling to control the damage.

On Tuesday, nine drug companies issued a joint pledge that when it came to releasing a vaccine for the coronavirus, they would “stand with science” and “make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority.” They vowed to follow the guidance of the appropriate regulators and to make decisions based on “large, high quality clinical studies,” as is standard protocol. [..]

As P.R. strategies go, it may seem odd for drugmakers to offer unsolicited assurances that they will not cut corners on safety. This feels a little bit like a server at Olive Garden greeting customers with a promise not to spit in their iced tea. Why even raise the possibility?

Such is the extent to which Mr. Trump has politicized and undermined public faith in everything — especially his own administration.