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: Is America Becoming a Failed State?
Mitch McConnell may make the nation ungovernable.
As I write this, it seems extremely likely that Joe Biden has won the presidency. And he clearly received millions more votes than his opponent. He can and should claim that he has been given a strong mandate to govern the nation.
But there are real questions about whether he will, in fact, be able to govern. At the moment, it seems likely that the Senate — which is wildly unrepresentative of the American people — will remain in the hands of an extremist party that will sabotage Biden in every way it can.
Before I get into the problems this confrontation is likely to cause, let’s talk about just how unrepresentative the Senate is.
Every state, of course, has two senators — which means that Wyoming’s 579,000 residents have as much weight as California’s 39 million. The overweighted states tend to be much less urbanized than the nation as a whole. And given the growing political divide between metropolitan and rural areas, this gives the Senate a strong rightward tilt. [..]
But, you may ask, why is divided control of government such a problem? After all, Republicans controlled one or both chambers of Congress for three-quarters of Barack Obama’s presidency, and we survived, didn’t we?
Trump had many tools at hand for a coup — SCOTUS, Bill Barr, the GOP Senate — but went with Twitter “declarations”
On Wednesday afternoon, word went out on social media: A group of MAGA yahoos were outside the Philadelphia Convention Center. They were there to offer backdrop to Rudy Giuliani, Eric Trump and other members of Trump’s reality-TV Oberkommando. The authoritarian Klown Korps had been flown in to give speeches echoing Trump’s demands that the vote-counting happening inside be halted — not for any vaguely legitimate legal reason, but simply because he likes the numbers where they are.
But the plan hit a snag: The good people of Philadelphia, who also know how to read a press release and were not interested in letting the second-born failson and a martini-soaked former Lifelock spokesman do a photo-op menacing the dutiful election officials who are just trying to count the votes. [..]
This isn’t over, to be sure. Trump still has a lot of powerful, intelligent and deeply evil people in his camp who have, at least until now, been shameless about saving this idiot from his own incompetence while running his corrupt schemes. (See: Trump, Donald, impeachment trial of.) But so far, Trump’s efforts to steal this election seem to be backfiring, in large part because he can’t hold it together well enough even to pretend he has a legitimate argument. His compulsive need to get in his own way and make everything worse for himself may end up saving our democracy.
George T. Conway III: A presidency fueled by lies finishes with the worst of them all
Trump is squandering his last and best chance to be truthful and, for once, do something right by the country instead of himself.
It’s somehow fitting. A presidency launched with lies, and fueled by them ever since, was destined to finish with the worst of them all.
Donald Trump’s presidency began on Jan. 20, 2017, with what he asserted was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period,” a claim whose absurdity was evident to anyone with eyes. From his first week in office, the president lied about an election that everyone agreed he had won. He claimed that “VOTER FRAUD,” by “millions” of noncitizens, cadavers and “people registered in two states,” had deprived him of a popular-vote majority in 2016.
But all that was just the beginning. Trump has told lies about virtually everything ever since, lies big and small, meaningful and meaningless, saying anything to put himself in the best position or the best light. He lied about paying off a porn star. He lied, despite photographic evidence, about having never met a woman who accused him of rape.
He lied about what he was impeached for, and about what he should have been impeached for, by claiming his phone call with the Ukrainian president was perfect, and by asserting that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had exonerated him. He lied about deceptively marking up a hurricane map with a Sharpie.
And on and on and on.
Jennifer Senior: Republicans, Now Is the Time to Step Up
It’s not too late to end up on the right side of history.
Speaking from the White House briefing room on Thursday night, President Trump tried to delegitimize the 2020 election. This attempt may have been shuddersome, disgraceful and dangerous. But there’s one thing it was not: a surprise.
On the contrary. It was tediously predictable, exactly what you’d expect of a man who has spent four years lumbering through Washington, crushing custom after custom and norm after norm. As Trump faltered on the brink of losing a presidential election — the first incumbent to do so in 28 years — he declared, baselessly, that absentee votes legitimately cast were fraudulent; that the diligent workers paid to count those votes were doing something nefarious; and that the “election apparatus” in the still-unresolved states were controlled by Democrats. (They are not. Georgia’s secretary of state, for one, is a Republican.)
“They are trying to steal an election,” Trump said, speaking (I think) of ballot counters in Detroit and Philadelphia. “They are trying to rig an election. We can’t let that happen.”
But here’s my question for Republicans: Are they going to let this happen? Allow the head of their party to challenge the integrity of an election with record-breaking participation rates — in the midst of a pandemic, no less — just because he despises the result?
McConnell doesn’t actually believe Trump can win. But when it comes to maintaining power, he’ll try anything
Biden’s apparent or imminent victory — it was the blessed 36 hours in which we didn’t have to hear Donald Trump’s voice. After his obnoxious declaration of victory at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, he stuck to primal tweeting until Thursday evening when he emerged to make the worst speech of his career. He disconsolately rattled off a fantasy laundry list of voting irregularities and declared, “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” Reading haltingly from a script, he rambled about media conspiracies and lied about vote-rigging, saying, “Ultimately, I have a feeling judges are going to have to rule” which he has always believed was his failsafe. It set a new standard for awful, which is really saying something.
Once again, a majority of Americans were no doubt horrified, embarrassed and frightened that their so-called president was declaring the American system that elected him to be corrupt because he is now on track to lose. [..]
I don’t know if the Democrats can gain those two Senate seats in Georgia. But you can bet that Mitch McConnell will do everything he can to prevent it. If that means helping Donald Trump turn this country inside out over the next couple of months so that his people stay active and engaged, he will do it. And so will his troops. If the last four years have shown us anything, it’s that any niggling concerns Republicans might have about destroying our democracy are easily disregarded, when it’s a question of maintaining their own power.