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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Paul Krugman: Mitch McConnell’s Mission of Misery

Why Senate Republicans won’t help Americans in need.

I keep seeing news reports saying that the Trump administration is “pivoting” on economic stimulus. But Donald Trump has been reversing positions so frequently that it looks less like a series of pivots than like a tailspin.

Over the course of just a week he went from demanding big stimulus, to calling off negotiations, to demanding big stimulus again, to calling for a small-scale deal using already allocated funds.

It would be funny if the human consequences weren’t so terrible. At this point the best guess is that for the next three-plus months — that is, until President Joe Biden takes office (highly likely, though not certain) with a Democratic Senate (more likely than not, but definitely not a sure thing) — there will be little or no aid for the millions of families, thousands of businesses and many state and local governments on the brink of disaster.

But why isn’t America getting the pandemic relief it so obviously needs? [..]

But even if Trump had any idea what he was doing, he would be paralyzed by the opposition of many, probably most Senate Republicans to any serious deal. They’re willing to cover for Trump’s unprecedented corruption; they’re apparently unbothered by his fondness for foreign dictators. But spending money to help Americans in distress? That’s where they draw the line.

Michelle Goldberg: Republicans’ Galling Bad Faith About the Supreme Court

It’s way too late for the right to pretend to care about civic norms.

Four years ago, when many Republicans believed that Hillary Clinton was about to be elected president, conservatives plotted to stop her from reshaping the Supreme Court.

“The Senate should decline to confirm any nominee, regardless of who is elected,” Michael Stokes Paulsen wrote in National Review. “More than that, it is time to shrink the size of the Supreme Court.” Paulsen proposed that Congress reduce the court to six justices, its original size. “It is entirely proper for Congress to adjust the size of the court either to check judicial power or to check executive appointments,” he wrote.

This was not, at the time, an outré position on the right. In October 2016, Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the Senate, which had refused to even consider Barack Obama’s nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat, wouldn’t move on a Clinton nominee either, essentially reducing the court to eight judges. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” he said. Senator John McCain, now remembered as an icon of bipartisan institutionalism, said that if Republicans held the Senate, they might not let Hillary Clinton fill any Supreme Court seats, though he later tempered his stance.

Now, facing another presidential election that they expect to lose, Republicans are caterwauling about Democratic calls to expand the court. As they prepare to jam through Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans are shocked — shocked! — that Democrats would contemplate playing constitutional hardball just as Republicans do. If Democrats jettison the Senate filibuster and add judges to the Supreme Court, Senator Ben Sasse said on “Fox News Sunday,” they’d be “suicide bombing” American institutions.

Eugene Robinson: Republicans are trying to make court expansion a mortal sin. Don’t let them.

Biden and Harris shouldn’t have to answer a hypothetical question — or give up their options.

As Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings begin and the 2020 presidential election enters its final stretches, Republicans are accusing Democrats of wanting to manipulate the size of the Supreme Court to achieve political ends. Let’s be clear about one thing, though: It is Republicans who have tried to warp the court’s dimensions in recent years. And they’re doing it again right now.

Whether Democrats would consider returning the favor at some point in the future is entirely hypothetical and depends on a host of unknowable variables. Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris are right not to be baited into answering a question — “Will you or won’t you?” — that presently has no meaning.

Ask them again if and when Biden is president and Democrats control both houses of Congress. Then, and only then, will Biden’s view on expanding the number of Supreme Court justices be meaningful — because then, and only then, will court-packing be an actual possibility. [..]

The Constitution, which does not specify the number of seats on the court, allows all of the above. Republicans have tried to paint “court-packing” as an unthinkable horror, an unprecedented departure from norms and traditions. Having transformed itself from the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Trump, however, the GOP has no standing to lecture anyone about norms and traditions. And the fact is that a decision by Democrats to expand the court would be nothing more than a variation on the “court-warping” that Republicans would achieve with Barrett’s confirmation.

Paul Waldman: Republicans have seen the enemy: Democracy

The Supreme Court is the last bulwark of their minority rule, and they’re determined to keep it.

Brace yourself while I paint a picture of a nightmarish future. It’s one in which every American gets to vote without impediment or inconvenience. Where the presidential candidate who gets the most votes actually moves into the Oval Office. Where bills in Congress are debated and then voted on, the side with more votes prevails, then those laws take effect and the public can judge the results.

This is the terrifying political hellscape the Republican Party is determined to prevent. For a party with a dwindling base and a broadly unpopular agenda, there is no more profound threat than democracy.

In the first day of questioning in Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, she gave no indication that she will be anything but an enthusiastic participant in their effort to hold it back.

Greg Sargent: Trump admits it: The intervention he desperately needs isn’t going to come

At his Florida rally, the president makes an inadvertent concession.

President Trump has been reliving the glory days of 2016 a lot lately.

At a rally in Florida on Monday night, Trump waxed nostalgic: “Did we win Florida last time? Was that beautiful?” He railed about “globalists” bleeding the country dry, robotically mimicking his last campaign’s closing argument as if playacting his way through 2016’s final surge. And he reminisced about the wrongness of the polls, predicting another major upset.

But there’s a crucial difference this time around, which is taking shape in a variety of ways: The sort of 11th-hour intervention that drove that glorious 2016 upset — something like those newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails — does not seem to be materializing.

And Trump appears to know it.