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Mar 22 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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Jamelle Bouie: Getting Rid of the Electoral College Isn’t Just About Trump

But does anyone really think popular vote losers make better presidents?

At a CNN town hall in Jackson, Miss., on Monday night, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called for shutting down the Electoral College. “I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted,” she said.

Her suggestion brought a sharp response from Republicans.

“The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Twitter. His colleague Marco Rubio posted a similar note, calling the Electoral College a “work of genius” that “requires candidates for president to earn votes from various parts of country. And it makes sure interests of less populated areas aren’t ignored at the expense of densely populated areas.”

President Trump weighed in as well: “With the Popular Vote, you go to just the large States — the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power — & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”

It’s not hard to guess why Republicans are riled by Warren’s embrace of a national popular vote. Without the Electoral College, neither Trump nor his Republican predecessor George W. Bush would have won the White House on their first go-round. At the same time, these self-interested or party-specific arguments are part of a larger conversation.

Paul Krugman: Don’t Make Health Care a Purity Test

We’re now in the silly season of the Democratic primary — a season that, I worry, may last all the way to the nomination. There are many honorable exceptions, but an awful lot of reporting seems to be third order — not about the candidates, let alone their policy proposals, but about pundits’ views about voters’ views of candidates’ electability. It’s a discussion in which essentially nobody has any idea what he or she is talking about.

Meanwhile, however, there are some real continuing policy debates. They’re not mainly about goals: Whoever the Democrats nominate will profess allegiance to a progressive agenda aimed at reducing inequality, strengthening the social safety net and taking action on climate change. But there are some big differences about how to achieve those goals.

And the starkest divide involves health care. Almost surely, the eventual platform will advocate “Medicare for TK.” But what word is eventually chosen to replace the placeholder “TK,” and more important, what that means in terms of actual policy, will be crucial both for the general election and for what comes after if Democrats win.

On one side, there’s “Medicare for All,” which has come to mean the Bernie Sanders position: replacing the entire existing U.S. health insurance system with a Medicare-type program in which the government pays most medical bills directly.

On the other side, there’s “Medicare for America,” originally a proposal from the Center for American Progress, now embodied in legislation. While none of the announced Democratic candidates has endorsed this proposal yet, it’s a good guess that most of them will come around to something similar.

Michelle Cottle: The Outspoken Women of the House

Three freshman lawmakers shatter stereotypes as they make waves.

You have to hand it to the first-year Democratic women of the House: They don’t hold back.

While the new Democratic majority is sprawling and diverse, a coterie of outspoken, progressive women has seized center stage — and not always in a good way. Even as they deliver a jolt of energy, the freshman Furies, as they have been dubbed, are inclined to do and say impolitic things that give their colleagues agita. Fans find the newbies’ unconventional style refreshing. Skeptics find them reckless and fret that they will pull the party in an unpalatable direction, ideologically, stylistically or both.

Who knows how the rookies will affect the Democratic brand. But already they’re doing their best to dismantle one of the most tiresome and inaccurate stereotypes in politics: that women lawmakers are inherently more civil, more collaborative, less power-hungry and less personally ambitious than men.

The idea that women are the key to a kinder and smoother-running Congress has been popular for as long as women have had a meaningful presence there. More than two decades ago, Senator Barbara Mikulski, long known as the dean of Senate women, began organizing monthly, bipartisan, women-only dinners in an effort to create a “zone of civility.” The concept of a nurturing, solutions-oriented sisterhood has endured, often fostered by the women themselves. [..]

How uplifting. How stirring.

How absurd.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s ‘socialist’ rhetoric is lazy name-calling from a lazy thinker

Trump’s ‘socialist’ rhetoric is lazy name-calling from a lazy thinker

President Trump has made fearmongering about “socialism” a key plank of his reelection campaign. It’s more lazy name-calling from a lazy thinker, but this time the lazy name-calling may backfire.

For years, Trump has premised his political pitch on the idea that he alone can protect Americans from the many invaders who wish us harm — chiefly immigrants, terrorists and globalists. Lately, he’s added another boogeyman to the bunch, one that’s supposedly homegrown: socialists.

In this year’s State of the Union, he declared, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” as if that were ever truly a risk. He has ramped up similar comments in recent months and has now enlisted his economic advisers in his fight against the great socialist straw man.

Karen Tumulty: Don’t do it, Stacey Abrams

Don’t do it, Stacey Abrams. It’s a terrible idea.

Now that it appears all but inevitable that Joe Biden will enter the 2020 presidential race, he is reported to be considering announcing at the outset that he has already selected the former Georgia House minority leader to be his running mate.

Axios’s Mike Allen, who broke the story Thursday, quoted a source close to Biden as saying the dramatic pick of an African American woman who is a rising star in the Democratic Party would show that the former vice president “isn’t just another old white guy.”

It is easy to see why Biden would find the idea appealing, presumptuous as it is. What is harder to understand is why Abrams would accept such an offer if Biden were to make it.

By virtue of his eight years at Barack Obama’s side, Biden would enter the contest as the front-runner, but that status would be a fragile one.