Sep 11 2020

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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Paul Krugman: Trump’s Coronavirus Response Was Beyond Incompetent

He wasn’t oblivious to the danger. He just didn’t care.

Until this week I thought that Donald Trump’s disastrous mishandling of Covid-19 was basically negligence, even if that negligence was willful — that is, that he failed to understand the gravity of the threat because he didn’t want to hear about it and refused to take actions that could have saved thousands of American lives because actually doing effective policy isn’t his kind of thing.

But I was wrong. According to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” Trump wasn’t oblivious; he knew by early February that Covid-19 was both deadly and airborne. And this isn’t a case of conflicting recollections: Woodward has Trump on tape. Yet Trump continued to hold large indoor rallies, disparage precautionary measures and pressure states to reopen business despite the risk of infection.

And he’s still doing the same things, even now.

In other words, a large fraction of the more than 200,000 Americans who will surely die of Covid-19 by Election Day will have been victims of something much worse than mere negligence.

Eugene RobinsonThis election is a referendum on Trump. That’s very bad news for him.

If the man himself is on the ballot, he could well lose.

Two months before the election, this race has become what President Trump most fears: a referendum on his chaotic, incompetent, dishonest leadership and his lack of a moral compass. If this is the rubric voters use to choose between the candidates, Trump and the Republican Party are in serious trouble.

Even after four numbing years of Trumpism, the revelations in Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, “Rage,” are shocking. Back in February, when Trump was telling Americans that covid-19 was no big deal and comparing it to the seasonal flu, he already knew, as he told Woodward, that it was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus” and very easily transmitted. In March, he admitted “playing it down,” publicly and falsely reassuring the nation that the pandemic would somehow magically go away, counting on confidence to supersede reality.  [..]

Despite knowing how deadly the virus could be, Trump failed to develop and implement a national strategy to minimize its toll. He hectored governors to reopen businesses in their states too soon, and he continues to badger schools to commence full-time, in-person instruction, ready or not. The result has been nearly 190,000 deaths, many of which could have been avoided.

This is the record that Trump does not want voters to consider. He would rather have us square off in a race-fueled culture war.

Paul Waldman: Why don’t Republicans want to give the economy a big boost?

The party that dislikes government thinks its work is pretty much done.

If you were hoping for another stimulus bill to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, you’re probably out of luck. [..]

This is a good demonstration that divided government, which is often said to lead to compromise and bipartisanship as the ruling party is prevented from going “too far,” in practice seldom resembles any such thing.

When you have one party that doesn’t really believe that government ought to move aggressively to solve problems — for instance, a pandemic followed by the kind of economic crisis that comes along once in a lifetime — then as long as that party holds any power, either entirely on its own or as part of divided government, not much is going to happen.

It’s true that Republicans went along with previous rounds of stimulus, but they did so with great reluctance, believing that the crisis was so intense that they had no choice as a political matter. But now, they’re not feeling that same political pressure.

Amanda Marcotte:   Trump, you’re no FDR or Winston Churchill — but you’re a lot like Charles Lindbergh

Trump defends coronavirus lies by comparing himself to wartime leaders — but he’s closer to the Nazi apologists

Oh boy, Donald Trump’s delusions of grandeur and his pattern of pathological lying have come crashing together once again. This time, Trump is trying to defend himself in the face of journalist Bob Woodward’s audio recordings revealing that while Trump was minimizing the threat of the coronavirus in public, in private he knew full well how serious the dangers were. And his strategy is — wait for it — to compare himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

On Thursday night at a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan, Trump insisted that when he told Woodward, “I wanted to always play it down,” he was just channeling the strength of these historic leaders of the Allied powers during World War II.

Trump compared his public lies about the seriousness of the pandemic to FDR’s famous “fear itself” quote and falsely claimed that Churchill gave speeches from the rooftops when “Hitler was bombing London.”

Who among us can forget when Churchill reassured the British public that “one day … like a miracle” the Nazis “will disappear”?

Or when FDR, in addressing the nation after the Pearl Harbor attacks, insisted that “99%” of the bombings were “totally harmless” and fears about the spread of fascism were a “new hoax” perpetuated by shady deep-state conspirators?  [..]

In fact, in Roosevelt’s famous “fear itself” speech, which Trump referred to, Roosevelt literally also said, “This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today.”

But while Trump has nothing in common with either Roosevelt or Churchill, he does resemble another prominent figure from the era quite a bit: Charles Lindbergh, the famed aviator who spent the months before the U.S. joined the war aggressively campaigning for America to hide its head in the sand, Trump-style, and avoid facing the real threat of fascism head on.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump might want to stop fighting the culture wars. He’s losing.

The country is not keen on bringing back the 1950s.  

President Trump cannot run on his handling of the coronaviruspandemic, with fatalities projected to possibly hit 250,000 by Election Day. He cannot run on the economy, when nearly 30 million Americans remain unemployed. It is not surprising that, just as he did in 2016 and 2018, he resorts to race-baiting and culture wars (which often overlap). He believes his base is deeply antagonistic toward nonwhites and intends to act as its defender. The problem for him is that he is on the losing side of the most pressing social issues.

When it comes to serenity in the suburbs and elsewhere, polls show that he trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden. In a Morning Consult-Politico survey, Biden leads 47 percent to 39 percent on who voters trust when it comes to public safety. Fifty percent of likely voters in a recent Quinnipiac poll said Trump made them feel less safe, 10 percentage points higher than said the same of Biden. Last week’s ABC News-Ipsos poll found 55 percent think Trump is making civil unrest worse, while only 13 percent said he is calming the situation. Biden’s polling in Wisconsin, where recent police clashes and the killing of two protesters followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, remains strong. Chalk up a win for Biden, then, on the “law and order” issue.  [..]

In comparison to Trump, the majority of Americans are far more inclusive, more open-minded about the tenacity of racism and more supportive of athletes playing a role in social change. Culture wars might be Trump’s favorite ploy, but he is playing a losing hand.