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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“In my beginning”, wrote TS Eliot in Four Quartets, “is my end.” This, at least, can be said of Donald Trump: he will leave the White House as he entered it, strangely unaltered by four years as president.
His hairstyle has been toned down. His demeanour – malign, self-obsessed, reckless of truth and decency, revelling in the harm he has done and can still do to the norms and institutions of democracy – has not.
This continuity is ominous. Trump was able to upend American politics before he was in office. There is every reason to think he will still be able to do so after he is replaced by Joe Biden on January 20th. [..]
This is his legacy: he has successfully led a vast number of voters along the path from hatred of government to contempt for rational deliberation to the inevitable endpoint: disdain for the electoral process itself.
In this end is his new beginning. Stripped of direct power, he will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment – racism, nativism, fear of “the government”.
Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands. It is, for him, not goodbye but hasta la vista. Instead of waving him off, those who want to rebuild American democracy will have to put a stake through his heart.
Michael Winship: Donald John Trump’s “Seditious Abuse”
As we come to the end of four rotten years, the child king spends his final days throwing an extra ton of trauma-inducing tantrums.
And it came upon a midnight clear during this holiday season that after weeks and months alternating between negotiation and inertia, Congress finally reached agreement with the White House and passed a new $908 billion relief bill that provided a stimulus payment of $600 to each qualified citizen.
Or so they thought. For lo, there rose a star in the East, albeit something more akin to a black hole sucking all the energy from the universe around it. Ah, good evening, Mr. President. I see you’ve brought your monkey wrench. [..]
Donald John Trump is guilty of what Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro described a couple of weeks ago as “seditious abuse.” Shapiro was talking about that bizarre Texas lawsuit that attempted to overthrow election results in four other states so that Trump could declare victory in the 2020 election, but the charge could be applied to virtually every action on every day he has held office.
What do you call Biden’s inauguration? A good start but just a start, the beginning of a long hard road back to restore and make stronger what may be what Abraham Lincoln called “the last best hope” we have. Happy New Year.
The year’s best, worst and weirdest political players.
This year was a soul-crushing hellscape of a dumpster fire. For sanity’s sake, large chunks of it should be repressed as soon as possible.
The rolling crises did, however, have a clarifying effect on the political scene. Some players rose to meet the moment. Others sank, and there was no bottom. This sorting should be remembered, especially as many of these public eminences begin scurrying to rehabilitate their brands. Their 2020 achievements, such as they were, should be memorialized with superlatives that capture who they revealed themselves to be. Think high school yearbook distinctions, only with real-world implications.
Don’t look for President Trump on this list. In a class by himself, he was deemed ineligible for consideration. The competition would have been grossly unfair with such a dominant force. As for the rest of the swamp …
David Cay Johnson: Don Corleone with an unlimited “get out of jail” card
Trump’s pardons show he’s just a mob boss — and his presidency is a criminal enterprise
The 41 pardons Donald Trump granted last week drew a lot of attention, but few seemed to notice the message Trump sent by not pardoning some.
Trump’s choices made clear he is a crime boss.
The names of those pardoned, and sometimes the names of those not pardoned, have appeared in news reports and opinion columns, but there was no connecting the dots to show the pattern and its meaning. The pattern reveals a crystal clear message to lawyers for those considering ratting out Trump or already working with authorities to rein in the Trump crime family:
The boss takes care of friends and allies if they lie for the boss or keep silent, but does nothing for those who cooperate with law enforcement.
Given Trump’s many attacks on the FBI and other law enforcement, this should surprise no one, especially journalists. Yet my fellow journalists didn’t point this out.
Dean Obeidallah: Nero fiddled. Trump plays golf
America is clearly suffering the wrath of Donald Trump’s dark mood after his election loss. We don’t have to look far for examples. [..]
When you look at what Trump has inflicted upon America, it brings to mind the warning that his niece, psychologist Mary Trump, delivered on my SiriusXM radio show on December 15. Mary Trump stated that she believes her uncle he “hates this country now because he was rejected.” She warned that as a nation, “we need to be prepared for anything,” adding that her uncle was not only going to continue to attack Republicans who wouldn’t join in his efforts to overturn the election, but he would also “go after the rest of us.”
Mary Trump’s warning was prescient. As she predicted, the President has not just lashed out at Republicans — as he did again Saturday on Twitter when he slammed GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans for refusing to join his conspiracy to overturn the election — but he has come after “the rest of us.” And the rest of us includes everyone from those in our military to the millions in need of economic relief from the economic pain caused by the coronavirus closures to those who rely on the federal government being fully open for business.