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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Karen Tumulty: The people concerned about Neera Tanden’s incivility sure didn’t seem to mind the Trump era’s

Senators should think about how this could affect a future GOP president’s nominees.

It has become a rite of the modern presidential transition: The gods of politics demand a human sacrifice, the Senate torpedoes a nomination, the new administration takes a hit, and everyone moves on.

But the case of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s embattled choice to direct the Office of Management and Budget, presents a new twist.

Tanden is amply qualified for the job. She is not accused of failing to pay her taxes or hiring an undocumented household worker. She is not on the ideological fringes. There has been no scandal in her personal life.

Her supposedly unpardonable sin is . . . incivility. Specifically, she used intemperate language on Twitter. [..]

The sanctimony of Republican senators is newfound and rich, given how unstirred they were by the most powerful social media bully on earth leading their party from the White House for the past four years. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who has declared Tanden “radioactive,” said last June, after Donald Trump tweeted one of his egregiously false conspiracy theories: “You know a lot of this stuff just goes over my head.”

Manchin’s calculation here is a little less obvious. It may be that, coming from one of the reddest states, he feels the need to show some independence from the Biden administration.

But his stated reason, the “toxic and detrimental impact” of Tanden’s “overtly partisan statements,” is hard to take at face value.

Jennifer Rubin: How Merrick Garland should decide whether to prosecute Trump

The incoming attorney general should follow Justice Department guidelines.

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland reiterated at his confirmation hearing Monday that he will not take direction from the White House on prosecutorial decisions. “I would not have taken this job if I thought that politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations,” he said. At another point, he emphasized, “The president made abundantly clear in every public statement . . . that decisions about investigation and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department.”

And so we should consider how he will go about deciding to prosecute the former disgraced president. President Biden will not tell him, and Garland has vowed to ignore public pressure. Fortunately, he will enter an office with a literal manual. [..]

In sum, the decision to prosecute the ex-president for the Capitol attack might be controversial but not difficult. Once elements of the various crimes are established, there is indisputably a federal interest. Likewise, for the events leading to the Capitol attack, there is no alternative jurisdiction or remedy available for the Jan. 6 crimes. Whether it is good or bad to convict former presidents should not enter into Garland’s considerations. (If Biden thinks prosecution would be detrimental to the country, he could choose to pardon the ex-president, although he has said he has no plans to do so.)

If Garland goes by the “book” and decides to prosecute, his stature as an independent, esteemed former judge makes him precisely the right person for the job.

Paul Waldman: Moderate Democrats are unwittingly proving why the filibuster must go

The negotiation over the covid relief bill — which isn’t subject to the filibuster — is just the kind of legislating they say they want.

Supporting the filibuster is no easy task. To do it you have to be willing to set aside not only principles of democracy, majority rule and accountable governance, but also probably your connection to reality itself.

And if you’re a Democrat, you have to be willing to tell your constituents that no issue they care about — not health care or workers’ rights or inequality or immigration or anything else — is as important as maintaining in its current form a Senate procedure that has mostly been used to stop progressive change.

The question of the filibuster is momentarily on the back burner as Congress considers a covid relief bill, which will be passed through reconciliation — a limited, once-yearly tool the majority can use to move certain kinds of legislation. But that question will hang over everything that happens in Congress during Joe Biden’s presidency.

And right now, the very senators who cling most ardently to the filibuster are demonstrating what legislating could be like without it. The post-filibuster future they’re fighting against is, in fact, their own ideal: a situation in which they have tremendous influence, which they use to move legislation in a moderate direction and make bipartisanship possible.

Greg Sargent: How Republicans will sabotage a full accounting of Trump’s insurrection

No amount of magical “bipartisanship” will get Republicans to willingly reckon with their party’s role.

Let’s state this at the outset. If you think the chief obstacle to a full accounting of the mob assault on the Capitol is generalized partisanship, rather than the ongoing radicalization of the Republican Party, then you’re utterly clueless about the reality of this political moment.

Democrats and Republicans are battling over the makeup of a commission that is supposed to examine the Jan. 6 attack. Congressional leaders — led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — are now haggling over what the legislation creating it will look like.

This has caused some hand-wringing about whether a “bipartisan” accounting into the attack is possible, one similar to that produced by the 9/11 Commission, the model for this one.

But it’s hard to see how a bipartisan accounting on the insurrection is possible, especially if it is going to include a full reckoning with Donald Trump’s role in it.

I’ve got new detail on what’s at issue in the argument over the commission, and it appears to involve the scope of what will be examined.

Amanda Marcotte: GOP is still gaslighting about the Capitol riot: Trump’s allies claim coup and QAnon never happened

After the riot comes the gaslighting

Donald Trump’s insurrection failed. While historians will likely debate for decades how close he really came to succeeding, one thing is for certain: His failure has put his most prominent defenders in a tough spot. Instead of lining up to sing the praises of President-for-Life Donald Trump, which is where they want to be, his sycophants are stuck trying to make excuses for, minimize, or deflect attention from Trump’s failure.

First, they tried to minimize Trump’s responsibility for the insurrection. That tactic fell apart after an impeachment trial where the prosecutors made such an airtight case for Trump’s guilt that even people who voted to acquit him pretended it was on a legal technicality, rather than try to argue for his innocence. Now, some folks on the right are trying a new tactic, one you might call the “go big or go home” strategy. Trump’s loudest defenders are now outright denying that the nation saw what we all clearly saw on January 6. [..]

Denying the sky is blue breaks the will of their opponents to argue back. It frees them to spread this lie unchecked until it becomes the received wisdom of the Republican base. Soon, we can expect drunk uncles around the nation to count on their own stubborn unwillingness to admit evidence to “win” arguments over whether the insurrection is real. Who needs facts when you have lies that work by exhausting your opposition?