Oct 22 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Jennifer Rubin: How big a Republican wipeout are we looking at?

Trump and the GOP’s geographic footprint is shrinking.

The expansion of the presidential map into states where Democrats have not made inroads for many election cycles (e.g., Georgia, Texas and Arizona) has two critical ramifications.

First, a strategy of discrediting an election or challenging its results becomes untenable when Biden’s electoral count rises above 300. The public perception of the legitimacy of a Biden win increases, and the inclination of a court or a state legislature to engage in gamesmanship diminishes. The adage that “if it’s not close, he can’t cheat” certainly has relevance here.

Second, the incentive for Republicans to rethink their narrow-casting approach to politics, to stop relying on the politics of White grievance and to shed their dependence on voter suppression techniques increases when it becomes clear that they are at risk of becoming a regional, niche party. It is only when Republicans understand that such tactics cannot succeed as a national message that its primary proponents will lose power. If the Trumpers’ approach means Republicans cannot even hold Texas or Georgia, then their dominance of the party is threatened. In other words, a devastating, geographically broad defeat for the Republican Party may be critical to its recovery and reform.

Amanda Marcotte: Mitch McConnell admits he’s blocking coronavirus bill — will media finally stop blaming Democrats?

Republicans clearly never intended to pass a new relief bill — so why has the media consistently blamed Democrats?

For months, Congress has failed to pass a coronavirus relief bill, despite the widespread economic devastation and the fact that, under Donald Trump’s malicious mismanagement, the pandemic has spiraled out of control, infecting 8.25 million people and killing more than 220,000, as of Wednesday morning.

The mainstream media has firmly decided who they blame for the lack of a bill: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who control the lower house of Congress. Blaming Democrats has been the dominant press narrative, even though it’s been obvious from the get-go that Republicans don’t want more relief legislation.

Now we have concrete proof that Republicans are to blame: Late Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “has warned the White House not to strike an agreement,” on the grounds that any new deal struck with Pelosi and the Democrats and “could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week.”

To anyone unburdened by the delusion that “balance” is a more important journalistic principle than truth, it was always obvious that Republicans were the reason no coronavirus bill was getting passed. For one thing, House Democrats already passed a robust relief bill in May, which Senate Republicans have basically ignored while avoiding any substantive efforts at negotiating a bill that can pass both houses. For another thing, there are obvious ideological differences between Democrats, where even the party’s “moderate” wing supports increased social spending, and Republicans, whose only real goal is moving as much wealth as possible from the hands of working people to the rich.

Robert Reich: How to stop Trump from stealing the election

Donald Trump will stop at nothing to retain his power

Trump is likely to claim that mail-in ballots, made necessary by the pandemic, are rife with “fraud like you’ve never seen,” as he alleged during his debate with Joe Biden — although it’s been shown that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

So we should expect him to dispute election results in any Republican-led state he loses by a small margin — such as Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin.

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides that if state electors deadlock or neither candidate gets a majority of the votes in the Electoral College needed to win the presidency (now 270) — because, for example, Trump contests votes in several key states — the decision about who’ll be president goes to the House, where each of the nation’s 50 states gets one vote.

That means less-populous Republican-dominated states like Alaska (with one House member, who’s a Republican) would have the same clout as large Democratic states like California (with 53 House members, 45 of whom are Democrats).

So if the decision goes to the House, Trump has the advantage right now: 26 of state congressional delegations in the House are now controlled by Republicans, and 22 by Democrats (two — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are essentially tied).

But he won’t necessarily keep that advantage after the election. If the decision goes to the House, it would be made by lawmakers elected in November, who will be sworn in on January 3 — three days before they’ll convene to decide the winner of the election.

Greg Sargent: How the Iran news actually undermines one of Trump’s biggest lies

Trump’s own director of national intelligence accidentally gives away the president’s game.

There’s a lot to scrutinize about John Ratcliffe’s big announcement about Iran and Russia, but an important piece of news about it is getting lost: Without doing so directly, President Trump’s own director of national intelligence actually debunked one of the president’s biggest lies about the election.

Much discussion of Ratcliffe’s remarks to the media has focused on his claim that Iran is sending fake threatening emails to voters — purportedly from the right-wing extremist Proud Boys — to help Trump. As many have noted, the idea that this benefits Trump makes little sense on its face.

But Ratcliffe also said something else in his Wednesday evening comments that is oddly getting overlooked: He indirectly but unequivocally confirmed that the claims that Trump has been making about voter fraud, particularly in vote-by-mail, are false.

Dan Froomkin: If Joe Biden wins this election, mainstream media has plenty of catch-up work ahead

After Nov. 3, comparing Biden to Donald Trump may no longer be enough. It will be time to ask the hard questions

There’s a lot we don’t know about what kind of leader Joe Biden will be if he wins the presidential election.

None of it matters very much before Nov. 3, because this is not a normal election. There is nothing we could possibly learn about Biden that would make him a worse candidate than Donald Trump. We know Biden is a fundamentally decent man, with flaws. Trump is a disaster and an existential threat to core American values.

But the political press corps has never pressed Biden hard on, well, anything — not even when he was running for the Democratic nomination against several strong competitors. Reporters failed to aggressively question him during the primaries, a professional lapse I still don’t understand.

(And no, I don’t mean bogus questions about planted conspiracy theories. I mean tough questions about his history, his policies and his campaign.)

Once it was clear Biden would become the nominee, everything suddenly became relative — relative to Donald Trump, that is. So the press corps’ docile stance was largely appropriate. I was initially more worried that reporters might repeat the journalistic failures of 2016: blowing Democratic mini-scandals out of proportion, while underplaying Trump’s unbounded corruption and tragic incapacity, to create the appearance of balance.

But Trump’s clueless and disastrous response to a deadly pandemic — on top of his unhinged lies and some excellent investigative reporting on his finances — made that kind of false equivalence impossible even for the most jaded political journalists. The few attempted Biden gotchas have fallen terribly flat.

It wasn’t Biden that the Washington press corps needed to hold accountable. He simply was not the story.

But all that changes if and when he becomes the president-elect.