Aug 15 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium 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.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: The progressive insurgency is only just beginning

How do you cover an insurgency like that now roiling the Democratic Party? To date, the mainstream media’s treatment would give regular readers a severe case of whiplash. The primaries had barely begun when some in the media announced the virtual demise of the movement spawned by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Then, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez eviscerated Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House and possible heir to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a New York primary, the New York Times headlined, “Democrats brace as storm brews far to their left,” warning that “a new generation of confrontational progressives has put Democrats at the precipice of a sweeping transition.” Then, when some of the candidates whom Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders stumped for lost in Kansas and Michigan, Politico declared “Down goes socialism” (not bothering to tell us when “socialism” had been up); and The Washington Post concluded the “liberal insurgency hits a wall.

It’s worth sorting this out. There surely is a powerful reform movement building on the left. It is spearheaded by activists inspired not only by the Sanders campaign but also by movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, the plight of the “dreamers” and growing environmental activism. What is surprising — and should be exciting to Democrats — is that much of the energy of a new generation of activists is focused on electoral politics, and largely on remaking the Democratic Party rather than leaving it.

Paul Krugman: Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi?

Normally, a party that gives away $2 trillion without worrying about where the money will come from can buy itself at least a few votes. But Donald Trump’s tax cut remains remarkably unpopular, and Republicans barely mention it on the campaign trail — in fact, Democrats are running against the tax cut more than Republicans are running on it.

Nor are Republicans talking much about Trump’s trade war, which also remains unpopular.

What, then, does the G.O.P. have to run on? It can hype the supposed menace from illegal immigrants — but that hasn’t been gaining much traction, either. Instead, Republicans’ attack ads have increasingly focused on one of their usual boogeymen — or, rather, a boogeywoman: Nancy Pelosi, the former and possibly future speaker of the House.

So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.

What has Pelosi achieved?

Michelle Goldberg: Welcome to the Resistance, Omarosa

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the reality show villain who campaigned for Donald Trump and followed him into the White House, is an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit. What separates her from them is that she might be capable of a sliver of shame.

Naturally, Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” is self-serving, a way to avenge her 2017 firing and make money telling us what we already know about this wretched administration. Nevertheless, she had other options for cashing in. She has revealed that she was offered a $15,000-a-month position on the Trump re-election campaign in exchange for keeping her mouth shut. She could have had a career in right-wing media; an African-American celebrity willing to say that the Republican Party isn’t racist will always find patrons.

Instead, she chose to speak out against the man who made her a star, and repent for her complicity in electing him. She may be a manipulative narcissist, but she’s behaving more honorably than any other former Trump appointee.

Karen Tumulty: Trump spreads racism with a fighter pilot’s precision

It is often said of President Trump that he is careless in his use of language.

What an underestimation that is of a man who shows a fighter pilot’s precision at waging racist and sexist attacks. His words have a clear effect — stirring and normalizing bigotry — while preserving a veneer of deniability for himself and the followers who take up his call.

That is why, in some ways, it is almost irrelevant whether there is any truth to his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s explosive contention in her new book that Trump has used the n-word and that there is a recording of it somewhere. (Trump denied it on Twitter, but press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she “cannot guarantee” no such tape exists.)

Trump doesn’t have to say it, when he can employ so many other expressions that will unleash the same ugly forces.

Jay Michaelson: There Are Painful Problems in the Vetting of Brett Kavanaugh

Arguably the most important domestic act of Donald Trump’s presidency—shifting the Supreme Court to the right—is being carried out in an unprecedented and, if the standards of the legal profession were being applied, unethical way.

That’s because the release of the records of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s conservative pick to replace the centrist justice Anthony Kennedy, is being overseen by Kavanaugh’s own former deputy at the Bush White House, William Burck, now working as an attorney for the former president.

That is, in itself, an obvious conflict of interest. First, Burck’s client is President Bush, and his job is to represent his interests, not those of the United States. Second, Burck had a longstanding professional relationship with Kavanaugh. And Burck himself is surely mentioned in many of the documents he is now reviewing. One needn’t impute sinister motives to see how this is problematic.

So why is it happening? There are two proffered reasons. The first is that Burck’s team is making sure that nothing violates Bush’s executive privilege. The second is that the National Archives, normally the agency in charge of releasing such records, is backlogged and wouldn’t be able to finish until the end of October.

Neither of those explains why a Bush insider with a direct interest in the contents of these documents (whose other clients include Steve Bannon and White House counsel Don McGahn) is supervising their redaction and release.

Nor does is justify the haste with which congressional Republicans seem keen on pushing through this nominee. If it takes the National Archives until October to release everything, then so be it. Or, do what agencies always do when emergency work arises: hire more staff. It’s not rocket science.