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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Today’s events were shameful — and inevitable.
Let’s be clear: What happened Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol was an attempted coup d’état, egged on by a lawless president desperately trying to cling to power and encouraged by his cynical Republican enablers in Congress.
It was perhaps inevitable that President Trump’s chaotic and incompetent tenure in office would end with riots and tear gas. Not since British Major Gen. Robert Ross set fire to the president’s residence and the Capitol building in 1814 have we seen such a scene at the hallowed citadel of our democracy, as an angry and disillusioned mob — whipped into a frenzy by Trump himself — forced its way into the Capitol to disrupt the official certification of Trump’s electoral defeat. [..]
The central act of our democracy — the peaceful and orderly transfer of power — was not allowed to take place. Blame the rioters themselves, who must take responsibility for their own actions. But blame Trump above all. And blame the Republican members of Congress who sought to boost their own political fortunes by validating Trump’s self-serving paranoid fantasies.
David Landau and Rosalind Dixon: Why Trump Must Be Removed and Disqualified From Public Office
Mr. Landau and Ms. Dixon are law professors.
The magnitude of the current crisis calls for two constitutional measures: the 25th Amendment and impeachment.
After a mob incited by President Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol, American democracy needs protecting now — and not just now but in the coming weeks and years as well.
There are reports of preliminary discussions within the administration about invoking the 25th Amendment, a provision in the Constitution that provides a process to declare a sitting president no longer capable of fulfilling his duties. Another call is coming from a surprising source: The National Association of Manufacturers, not normally an organization known for this kind of political activism, said that Vice President Mike Pence “should seriously consider working with the cabinet” to invoke the amendment to remove President Trump and “preserve democracy.” People are invoking the 25th Amendment on the grounds that Mr. Trump is not fit to hold office and incited the chaos that unfolded on Capitol Hill — and may unfold again.
There are also calls from a number of Democratic representatives to impeach and remove the president for his actions around the illegal and violent takeover of one of the most hallowed traditions in American democracy.
The magnitude of the current crisis calls for both of these measures. The threat the president poses to our democracy is not short-lived and must be cut off urgently and decisively — before it leads to even greater degradation to American democratic processes and traditions. It will need to happen quickly, even with other demands pressing on our country’s leadership like certifying the election results, rolling out the coronavirus vaccine and calming a nation in crisis.
Ezra Klein: Trump Has Always Been a Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
By enabling the president anyway, Republican elites helped make the storming of the Capitol possible.
For years, there has been a mantra that Republicans have recited to comfort themselves about President Trump — both about the things he says and the support they offer him. Trump, they’d say, should be taken seriously, not literally. The coinage comes from a 2016 article in The Atlantic by Salena Zito, in which she complained that the press took Trump “literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
For Republican elites, this was a helpful two-step. If Trump’s words were understood as layered in folksy exaggeration and schtick — designed to trigger media pedants, but perfectly legible to his salt-of-the-earth supporters — then much that would be too grotesque or false to embrace literally could be carefully endorsed at best and ignored as poor comedy at worst. And Republican elites could walk the line between eviscerating their reputations and enraging their party’s leader, all while blaming the media for caricaturing Trumpism by reporting Trump’s words accurately. [..]
The problem isn’t those who took Trump at his word from the start. It’s the many, many elected Republicans who took him neither seriously nor literally, but cynically. They have brought this upon themselves — and us.
Michelle Cottle: Say It With Me Now, ‘Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’
With Raphael Warnock winning and Jon Ossoff leading, the political world has been remade.
Raise your hand if Georgia’s going deep blue was on your 2021 bingo card.
Me neither. But it turns out the state really has evolved — in part thanks to a decade-long push by voting-rights advocates and organizers like Stacey Abrams — into a different kind of political animal than its Deep South cousins. The final tallies from its twin Senate runoffs are still to be determined, but the Democratic contenders, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are on track to unseat the Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
This is a welcome development for the health of American democracy. At the risk of sounding harsh, both incumbents needed to lose. Not because of their politics or how they served constituents — though there was plenty to criticize in those departments. Rather, Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue proved themselves unfit for office with their cynical, spineless embrace of MAGA nihilism, topped off by their support of President Trump’s crackpot crusade to reverse the results of the presidential vote. Such rank betrayals of democracy should not go unpunished. There will, in fact, need to be more such reckonings if the Republican Party is to find its way out of Trumpism. [..]
Minority leader Mitch McConnell. These four words are music to the ears of those long frustrated by the obstructionism and gridlock that have defined the Kentucky Republican’s reign. Mr. McConnell’s Senate is where ambitious legislation — any legislation, really — goes to die. From the minority, he can still make trouble for the Democrats. And bills will still fail — more often than not, in a Congress so closely divided. But Mr. McConnell’s days as the Grim Reaper of legislation are over. He no longer controls what, or who, gets brought to the floor for consideration. This, to paraphrase a certain president-elect, is a big freaking deal.
Despite the violence and death Wednesday, the majority of House Republicans voted in support of Trump’s coup
Calling for “peace” was the word of the day on Capitol Hill Wednesday, after an insurrectionist mob overran the U.S. Capitol, in what was ultimately a failed attempt to prevent Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election. Some politicians — mostly Democrats, but a few clearly rattled Republicans — meant these words of peace. But some, most obviously Donald Trump himself, did not.
In his repeated messages to supporters Wednesday and into Thursday, Trump made sure to sandwich every mealy-mouthed wish for peace in between carbo-loaded language inciting more violence by continuing to insist that he won “a sacred landslide election victory” and that it’s being “unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” [..]
But how many other Republicans, especially Republicans with power, agree with Trump? How many can we safely assume are full of it when they speak of peace? Well, just look at how many still support his coup. [..]
Empty condemnations of violence are meaningless. What Hawley, Cruz, and the majority of House Republicans are standing for is a belief that elections should be voided if they don’t like the results, and that it’s okay to lie and cheat in order to steal elections. That kind of belief system inevitably leads to political violence, because it shares the same logic as political violence, which is that if you don’t get what you want by playing fairly, you need to break the rules.