Jan 17 2019

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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Paul Krugman: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Brexit

What’s going to happen with Brexit? A second referendum? A disorderly hard exit? A new offer from the European Union that isn’t as offensive as the deal that just got rejected? God knows, and even He may be uncertain.

Part of the problem is that there don’t seem to be many rational actors out there. Much has been written about the fantasies of many Brexiteers; I don’t have anything to add to all that. But we should also note the fantasies of the Eurocrats, who have behaved at every step of this process as if Britain were Greece, and could be bullied into capitulation. Minor gestures could have saved Remain in 2016; a bit of flexibility, a bit less determination to impose humiliating terms, might have led to a soft Brexit now. But it was arrogance all the way.

Now we hear that E.U. officials are horrified by the scale of May’s defeat, and my sense is that European leaders are starting to realize that a disorderly break would do a lot of damage to a fragile eurozone too. No kidding.

Michael McFaul: Sorry, but Trump is not ‘tough on Russia’

To defend himself from accusations of collusion or collaboration with Russian government officials during the 2016 presidential election and after, President Trump recently repeated a familiar claim: “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President.”

His statement might have been closer to the truth if he had referred to his administration rather than himself. The Trump administration has a tough policy on Russia, one that I mostly support. But Trump himself does not. For the past two years, he has consistently made it clear that he does not support his own administration’s policy toward Russia.

Karen Tumulty: State of the Union: What would Jefferson do?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created quite a stir Wednesday, when she said that President Trump should delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address if the government remains shut down — or perhaps deliver it in writing. But her proposal was not as radical as it might sound. For more than a century, it was the norm for presidents to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union” by sending a letter to Capitol Hill.

President Thomas Jefferson set that precedent in 1801. Not until Woodrow Wilson ventured to Capitol Hill in 1913 would a president appear before Congress in person. Historians give different reasons for Jefferson’s reluctance to give a speech in person: that he thought it made him look too much like a king, that he didn’t want to navigate the then-muddy thoroughfare of Pennsylvania Avenue, and possibly that he was just a lousy public speaker.

Brain Klass: Trump’s efforts to stave off impeachment may also doom his reelection

There’s a method to President Trump’s shutdown madness — and it actually makes a lot of sense once you realize that the shutdown isn’t about “the wall.” It’s not about “winning.” It’s not about beating “Chuck and Nancy.” Trump’s quixotic shutdown fight is really about consolidating his political base to prevent any —Republicans from impeaching him when the Mueller report comes out.

The bad news is that Trump’s decision to double down on his shrinking base could very well work — at least for a while. As it stands now, he is likely to survive 2019, limp into the 2020 election and stand for reelection as the Republican nominee. The good news is that the more he doubles down on his base, the more he guarantees that voters will oust him at the ballot box and punish the Republicans for catering to party loyalists rather than doing what is best for the country.

Ted Koppel: Don’t expect Trump to go quietly

On July 21, 2016, just hours before he accepted the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump and I sat down for an interview. What he said on that occasion would serve as a remarkably candid foreshadowing of how Trump would handle his relationship with the media in what, on that day, seemed the unlikely event that he would actually become president.

“I don’t need you guys anymore,” Trump told me.

He pointed to his millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook, explaining that the days of television anchors and commentators acting as gatekeepers between newsmakers and the public were essentially over. Without discernible acrimony, Trump trotted out one of the early versions of what would eventually become a leitmotif of his presidency: The media was made up of largely terrible people trafficking in fake news. There was nothing personal in the observation. It was the unsheathing of a multipurpose device, one he used adroitly in tandem with the endlessly adaptable political vehicle provided by social media during the election campaign and now during his presidency.

Is there any reason to believe that what worked for Trump before he was elected and while in the White House won’t be equally effective after he leaves office?