Nov 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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Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s coup is morphing into a grift — but Mitch McConnell sees it as a power grab

Trump can’t steal the election now — but McConnell is seizing the chance to undermine Biden before he takes office  

Donald Trump’s attempted coup started as a clown show. Over the weekend as Joe Biden was declared the winner by the mainstream media, and then by the entire world, it morphed into an outright grift. In a hilariously weird press conference outside a Philadelphia landscaping company on Saturday, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump flunkies — including a registered sex offender — pushed the idea that they could somehow invalidate Biden’s robust electoral victory. On Twitter, Trump continued to hype the utterly false notion that there’s some pathway to invalidating openedand counted ballots in various states he has clearly lost, and somehow reverse the results of this election in the courts.   [..]

Trump’s attempted coup, to be clear, has zero chance of working. His election lawsuits are pathetic and keep getting thrown out, including by Republican judges. All the whining about “illegal” voters — which is mostly code for voters whose skin color or political leanings are not to Trump’s taste — amounts to nothing, since the votes he’s complaining about are already opened and counted. At this point, the main purpose of all the false promises that the courts will invalidate the election appears to be money — the fine print on the solicitations for Trump’s “legal defense fund” makes clear that the money will mostly be used to pay down Trump’s campaign debts. Since Election Day, more than 130 such emails begging for cash have gone out to gullible marks — sorry, I mean Republican voters. Considering what a practiced con artist Trump is, he’s probably already working out how to leverage his fake victim status to squeeze his hapless supporters for more cash down the road.

The problem, unfortunately, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to back Trump’s play, as I predicted he would a year and a half ago.

Thomas Edsall: What Is Trump Playing At?

The president’s refusal to concede that he lost the election is taking us into dangerous territory.

As newspapers and media across the country and around the world reported Joe Biden’s victory and Donald Trump’s defeat in last week’s election, Trump himself — along with his Republican allies in Congress, including the entire Senate majority leadership and the Republican House minority leadership — remained defiant.

I queried a number of American historians and constitutional scholars to see how they explain what should be an inexplicable response to an election conducted in a modern democracy — an election in which Republican victories up and down the ballot are accepted unquestioningly, while votes for president-elect Biden on the same ballots are not.

Many of those I questioned see this discrepancy as stemming from Trump’s individual personality and characterological deficiencies — what they call his narcissism and his sociopathy. Others offer a more starkly political interpretation: that the refusal to accept Biden’s victory stems from the frustration of a Republican Party struggling to remain competitive in the face of an increasingly multicultural electorate. In the end, it appears to be a mixture of both.

Many observers believe that the current situation presents a particularly dangerous mix, one that poses a potentially grave danger to American democracy.

Heather Digby Parton: How many different ways will Trump poison the ground on his way out the door?

Trump is “burrowing” right-wing loyalists into government positions. And what the hell’s his plan at the Pentagon?  

I don’t think anyone who has been following Donald Trump’s administration for the past four years can say they’re surprised that he is refusing to concede defeat after the election, or that nearly all Republican elected officials are either backing him to the hilt or quivering in the corner like a bunch of cold chihuahuas. I predicted this puerile reaction some time ago, which wasn’t exactly a great feat of prognostication since Trump was doing everything but running full-page ads in every newspaper in the country announcing his intentions. [..]

But what’s he doing with the Intelligence services and the Pentagon? The Washington Post reported on Monday that the administration had installed Michael Ellis, a hardcore right-wing operative best known as one of California Rep. Devin Nunes’ top henchmen, as head lawyer at the NSA. (You may remember Ellis as one of those involved in the infamous “midnight run.”) This job is not a political appointment, which means Ellis will now have career government employee protections and be more difficult to move out.

This is a practice known as “burrowing,” in which an outgoing administration moves some of their cronies into permanent jobs. In Trump’s case this is particularly concerning because his cronies are such overwhelmingly unethical loyalists and partisan hacks. Considering their characters and vocation, it’s hard to believe they don’t have a hidden agenda. And we have no idea how many of these people are being placed within the government at lower levels.

Jesse Wegman: The Republican Party Is Attacking Democracy

Our survival as a nation depends, above all, on the loser accepting the results of an election.

It turns out there was a coordinated attack on the 2020 election after all. It began several years ago and accelerated in the last several months. Now that Election Day has passed, it has launched into overdrive.

Its weapons are baseless insinuation and evidence-free charges, deployed solely to sow chaos and undermine the results of a free and fair election — one that produced a clear winner and an even clearer loser.

But the most dangerous attackers of American democracy aren’t the Russians or the Chinese. They are the leaders of the Republican Party.

In the face of a commanding national triumph by President-elect Joe Biden — not just an Electoral College victory but a popular-vote margin that is approaching five million — President Trump and top Republicans are behaving like spoiled children refusing to let go of their toys.

Jill Filipovic: Enough is enough: Republicans’ fealty to Trump imperils America itself

When the president refuses to concede, it has a tangible impact on the nation’s future. Why are Republicans enabling this?

Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 5 million. He was handily trounced in the electoral college, too. There is no real question that he lost the election and Joe Biden won.

And yet, predictably, the president who has spent his entire time in office denying the facts that are in front of his face is insisting that the clear results of this election must be the result of malfeasance. We know that to assuage his own ego and maintain his position, he will say and do just about anything. We know that he is not a statesman or a person who cares about anything beyond himself; we know he is happy to tear the nation apart at the seams if it means he gets what he wants. And we know that many members of the Republican party have thus far aided and abetted him.

But there was some question of when enough would be enough. Surely there was some line the president could cross that would directly imperil America itself and make Republicans finally say: enough. Now, the president is mounting what in any developing country would be called an attempted coup. He is spreading outright lies about America’s system of free and fair elections, claiming he won when he didn’t. His sycophantic legal team is pulling issues out of thin air to undermine the American system of voting. He is wielding his power to try to install himself as an unelected leader. He is refusing to concede so that he might find some way to illegally grab power. And Republicans are letting him.