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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Hillary Rodham Clinton: Trump should be impeached. But that alone won’t remove white supremacy from America.

Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol was the tragically predictable result of white-supremacist grievances fueled by President Trump. But his departure from office, whether immediately or on Jan. 20, will not solve the deeper problems exposed by this episode. What happened is cause for grief and outrage. It should not be cause for shock. What were too often passed off as the rantings of an unfortunate but temporary figure in public life are, in reality, part of something much bigger. That is the challenge that confronts us all.

Over these last days, I’ve thought about my experiences as a senator from New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 9/11 Commission Report that followed. The report’s authors explored the failures that opened the door for a devastating terrorist attack. “The most important failure,” they wrote, “was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat.”

Almost 20 years later, we are living through another failure of imagination — the failure to account for the damage that can be done to our nation by a president who incites violence, congressional leaders who fan the flames, and social media platforms that sear conspiracy theories into the minds of Trump’s supporters. Unless we confront the threats we face, we risk ensuring that last week’s events are only a prelude to an even greater tragedy.

Amanda Marcotte: Republicans are gaslighting America about Trump’s coup: Only impeachment can set the record straight

Impeachment establishes a formal record, making it harder for the right to pressure media to downplay January 6

There is no doubt Donald Trump incited the insurrection on January 6. It happened largely in public and is recorded for prosperity. [..]

Trump didn’t add, “if you know what I mean,” but he didn’t have to — the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol armed with guns, pipe bombs and flex cuffs to take members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence hostage understood Trump’s wink-and-nudge style loud and clear.

None of this is subtle or confusing. Unsurprisingly, however, right-wing media figures — who want to continue to push conspiracy theories and agitate their audiences with insurrectionist talk, but don’t want to face consequences for it — have already begun the process of gaslighting about Wednesday’s event, insisting that it’s being blown out of proportion and shouldn’t be treated like the insurrection that it was.[..]

Articles of impeachment are the kind of official documentation that make it much harder for right wing forces to pressure mainstream media outlets to downplay what happened on Wednesday. It makes it a matter of public record that this was, indeed, an insurrection. That will help be a check against the impulse of cowardly editors and producers in mainstream media to give into the right wing gaslighting campaign. Impeachment will be a show of support from Congress for those who are willing to speak the truth, that we witnessed a coup, incited by Trump, against the leaders duly elected by the people of the United States.

Jennifer Senior: The Narcissist in Chief Brings It All Crashing Down

An ending as terrible as it was predictable engulfs the president and the country.

Our president has never been a very stable man. But I’m trying to think of what threshold of loco he had to clear in order for one of his senior advisers to confide in my colleague Maggie Haberman that Donald J. Trump “lost it” on the day of the insurrection.

Or for an administration official to describe him as “a total monster” to The Washington Post the next day.

Or for Representative Adam Kinzinger, a member of Trump’s own party, to call for the cabinet and the vice president to invoke the 25th Amendment because we require “a sane captain of the ship” to steer us through the administration’s final days, and “all indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself.”

Our president has always been out there. But on Jan. 6, 2021, he clearly reached escape velocity and hurtled into space. [..]

You needn’t be a particularly astute observer of the Trump presidency to understand that his incendiary, hateful policies and rhetoric and mirthful disregard for the law would one day end in violence. But you needn’t be a particularly astute observer of character, either, to see that a man who feels no empathy, exploits ruthlessly, lies reflexively, seeks success at any cost and lives in terror of seeing it vanish would never go quietly.

Mimi Swartz: Never Forget What Ted Cruz Did

The senator has been able to use his Ivy League pedigree as a cudgel. After last week, his credentials should condemn him.

When I was growing up, I was often reminded that people with fancy educations and elite degrees “put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us.” This was back in the early 1960s, before so many rich Texans started sending their kids to Ivy League schools, when mistrust of Eastern educated folks — or any highly educated folks — was part of the state’s deep rooted anti-intellectualism. Beware of those who lorded their smarts over you, was the warning. Don’t fall for their high-toned airs.

Since I’ve been lucky enough to get a fancy enough education, I’ve often found myself on the other side of that warning. But then came Jan. 6, when I watched my Ivy League-educated senator, Ted Cruz, try to pull yet another fast one on the American people as he fought — not long before the certification process was disrupted by a mob of Trump supporters storming the Capitol and forcing their way into the Senate chamber — to challenge the election results. [..]

Today, though, his credentials aren’t just useless; they condemn him. Any decent soul might ask: If you are so smart, how come you are using that fancy education to subvert the Constitution you’ve long purported to love? Shouldn’t you have known better? But, of course, Mr. Cruz did know better; he just didn’t care. And he believed, wrongly I hope, that his supporters wouldn’t either.

Katherine Stewart: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage

Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?

In today’s Republican Party, the path to power is to build up a lie in order to overturn democracy. At least that is what Senator Josh Hawley was telling us when he offered a clenched-fist salute to the pro-Trump mob before it ransacked the Capitol, and it is the same message he delivered on the floor of the Senate in the aftermath of the attack, when he doubled down on the lies about electoral fraud that incited the insurrection in the first place. How did we get to the point where one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party appears to be at war with both truth and democracy?

Mr. Hawley himself, as it happens, has been making the answer plain for some time. It’s just a matter of listening to what he has been saying. [..]

Over the past few days, following his participation in the failed efforts to overturn the election, Mr. Hawley’s career prospects may have dimmed. Two of his home state newspapers have called for his resignation; his political mentor, John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, has described his earlier support for Mr. Hawley as “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made”; and Simon & Schuster dropped his book. On the other hand, there is some reporting that suggests his complicity in efforts to overturn the election may have boosted his standing with Mr. Trump’s base. But the question that matters is not whether Mr. Hawley stays or goes, but whether he is simply replaced by the next wannabe demagogue in line. We are about to find out whether there are leaders of principle left in today’s Republican Party.

Make no mistake: Mr. Hawley is a symptom, not a cause. He is a product of the same underlying forces that brought us President Trump and the present crisis of American democracy. Unless we find a way to address these forces and the fundamental pathologies that drive them, then next month or next year we will be forced to contend with a new and perhaps more successful version of Mr. Hawley.

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