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: The Plot to Help America’s Children
And what we can learn from right-wing opposition.
Democrats seem ready to enact major economic relief legislation. The package will be big, with a price tag probably close to the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion. But the bulk of this spending will clearly be temporary. Americans won’t be getting $1,400 checks every year, unemployment benefits won’t always be this generous, we won’t constantly be mobilizing for emergency vaccination programs (or at least we hope not).
There is, however, one piece of the package many progressives hope will become permanent: enhanced aid to families with children. Indeed, there’s an overwhelming economic and social case for providing such aid, in addition to the moral case.
Yet most conservatives seem to be opposed, even though they’re having a notably hard time explaining why. And the fact that they’re against helping children despite their lack of good arguments tells you a lot about why they really oppose aid to those in need.
Michelle Goldberrg: Impeachment’s Over. Bring On the Criminal Investigations.
After Mitch McConnell’s cynical speech, Republicans can’t complain.
A few hours after the Senate voted in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Saturday, I spoke to the lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin. He was crushingly disappointed. Despite Republicans’ indulgence of Trump over the last five years, despite the fact that three Republican senators met with Trump’s lawyers before they presented their defense, Raskin had so much faith in the overwhelming case he and his colleagues brought that, until the end, he held out hope of conviction. [..]
The House managers forced the Senate to reckon with the scale of the terror Trump unleashed on Congress. “I did see a bunch of the Republicans who voted against us, including Mitch McConnell, crying at different points,” said Raskin. The case was strong enough to win over even two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy, who’d initially voted against holding the trial at all.
But when it comes to McConnell and his caucus, cynicism always prevails.
Because I’m less optimistic than Raskin, I was less disappointed. The 57-to-43 verdict against Trump was the biggest bipartisan majority for conviction in a presidential impeachment trial. And it seems to me that if McConnell couldn’t behave honorably, he did the next best thing with the speech he gave after voting to acquit.
Trump’s insurrection was part of a larger Republican assault on democracy — one that can’t be beaten by playing nice
On the last day of the impeachment trial, Democrats fumbled such that it felt a parody of their storied political ineptitude. After the Senate voted to hear from witnesses in Donald Trump’s trial for inciting an insurrection, Trump-loyalist Republicans, like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, started issuing threats to drag the trial out for months. Even though it would have been easy to call the Republicans’ bluff — it’s highly unlikely that Republicans would want this embarrassing impeachment to dominate headlines for months — Democratic House managers quickly scrambled to call a mulligan on the 55-45 vote for witnesses, overruling the actual vote in order to cancel any live testimony. Despite Democrats doing a huge favor to Republicans by minimizing the political pain of the trial, however, 43 of 50 Republicans still voted to acquit Trump in the face of his undeniable guilt.
Many progressives erupted in outrage, correctly believing that not only was witness testimony inherently useful for illustrating Trump’s guilt to the public but that by dangling out the possibility and then yanking it away, Democrats ensured that the coverage would be muddied by a narrative about their own cowardice, instead of about GOP complicity. (This proved to be true.) But the pushback from other liberals came hard and fast, with those supporting the decision arguing that since the GOP acquittal of Trump was inevitable, there was no point wasting time with witnesses. (Those of us arguing in favor of calling witnesses understand that GOP senators weren’t persuadable, to be clear, but believe calling witnesses was about messaging to the voters.) Plus, Democratic defenders argued, the Senate really needs to focus on legislation, if there’s any hope of fixing America’s problems and turning back the tide of Trumpism.
Lloyd J. Austin III: The U.S. can’t meet its responsibilities alone. That’s why we believe in NATO.
Lloyd J. Austin III is the defense secretary.
The Biden administration is sending a positive message to its allies.
President Biden made it clear two weeks ago that diplomacy will be our primary means of engaging with the world, and it must be our first tool of choice. At the same time, the president also recognizes that all of our decisions and actions must be accomplished from a position of strength.
For the Defense Department, this means fielding a credible force, ready to back up the hard work of diplomacy. It also means working closely with our allies and partners to secure our common interests and promote our shared values abroad. Simply put, we cannot meet our responsibilities alone, nor should we try.
This is the message I will deliver Wednesday to my counterparts at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting. We must consult together, decide together and act together. [..]
Alliances are not a burden; they are a benefit to both our individual and our collective security. Our shared principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law do not make us more vulnerable; they make us stronger as a team.
Our work to secure a more peaceful and prosperous future requires leadership and bold action. It demands an ironclad commitment to ourselves and to each other to ensure the alliance remains strong militarily. Under the president’s leadership, the United States is ready again to make that commitment.
We are ready to consult together, decide together and act together.
We are ready to revitalize our alliances.
We are ready to lead.