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Dec 21 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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Margaret Sullivan: Journalists, it’s time for a cold-turkey breakup with Trump

Long before he glided down that golden escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump was an object of media fascination. He could never actually become president, of course — that was unthinkable — but he captivated us all the same.

Once he was elected, the media’s fascination turned to utter obsession. Newscasts, front pages, opinion columns — whatever the form, we couldn’t seem to tear our gaze away.

The relationship was bumpy, sometimes abusive — “scum,” he called us early on — but Trump commanded attention nearly every hour of every day. [..]

But soon, very soon, the party needs to end. It’s late, everyone’s had too much to drink, and it’s time to head home and sleep it off.

Take inspiration where it can be found: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell managed a hollow smile Tuesday as he acknowledged that Joe Biden is the president-elect and Kamala Harris the vice president-elect. Now the news media needs to do something every bit as challenging: Go cold turkey on Trump.

Yes, breaking up is hard to do. And this one is going to hurt more than most.

Aaron Schwid and Tom Frieden: How to reopen the economy safely? Immunity passports.

With the authorization of a second effective vaccine against the coronavirus, we can imagine an end to the pandemic, like voyagers on a ship seeing the safety of shore.

But it will take many months before we reach the end of this perilous journey, and the public is increasingly losing patience with broad restrictions on day-to-day life. So as more and more people are vaccinated, it’s time to carefully design a system of “immunity passports.”

These passports would serve as a form of proof of immunity, allowing people who have immunity to engage in some activities others cannot. That could make it possible to ratchet down protective measures, such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, without increasing health risks. A venue could finally reopen to some performers, fans and staff. Visitors could return more freely to nursing homes and prisons. International travel could increase.

Versions of these passports already exist. Travel between certain countries requires proof of yellow fever vaccination. Measles and other vaccines are mandatory for school admission. Hospitals and nursing homes require that staff get an annual flu shot.

Immunity passports for covid-19 — although controversial for scientific, practical and ethical reasons — are already being developed. We need minimum standards to get this right.

Helaine Olen: Almost no one wants a neighbor like Donald Trump

Trump is a bad neighbor. Who could have guessed?

This week, The Post reported that a lawyer for the evangelical DeMoss family, President Trump’s next-door neighbor at Mar-a-Lago, had submitted a letter to the town of Palm Beach pointing out that an agreement Trump signed with the town decades ago forbids anyone — including the soon-to-be-former president — from using the property as a primary residence.

This presents a practical issue for Trump: In 2019, he changed his legal residence to the private club. That’s a problem, the DeMoss family has declared. “Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale, and surely he can find one that meets his needs,” the family’s lawyer wrote in an admirably understated style. [..]

But maybe those neighbors will start complaining, too. Trump, you will be unsurprised to learn, is not the sort of person you want living next door. Almost everywhere he goes, the neighbors want him gone. Think of it this way: Would you want to reside near someone who not only attracts protesters but needs them tear-gassed so he can stage a photo op? Or one who hosts covid-19 superspreader events?

Amanda Marcotte: A return to fake right-wing outrage: Without Trump, Republicans run back to sexist resentments

Desperate to keep the rubes riled up, the right reverts to faking umbrage at “unladylike” self-expression

Needless to say, 2020 was quite the year — and not just for people who believe in preserving democracy and containing deadly pandemics.

For Republican politicians and right-wing media, whose careers are centered around feeding silly victimization narratives to the right-wing base, there was all manner of made-up nonsense to get the rubes riled up. For months, the right-wing narrative was focused on claims that the coronavirus pandemic and/or measures to contain it were all a giant conspiracy aimed at tanking Donald Trump’s re-election chances. The fall was then consumed by similarly bonkers conspiracy theories about “voter fraud” and Joe Biden somehow “rigging” the election.

And while both narratives are still being pushed by right-wing media — and Trump himself is still raving like a madman on Twitter with his election conspiracy theories — it’s becoming clear to many in the right-wing media that it’s time to move on. There’s going to be a Democrat in the White House, and it’s time to put to bed the grievance narrative of “deep state trying to take a good man down!”

So the right is returning to the strategy of the Barack Obama years, churning out a steady stream of fake outrage over supposed Democratic transgressions — remember how angry they were that Obama wore a tan suit? — all to feed their metanarrative that Democratic governance is inherently illegitimate. And they know that the quickest way to stir the furies of right-wing America is to tell them stories about how all those Democratic women are out of control. Who do those b*tches think they are?

Robert Reich: Joe Biden’s biggest challenge is avoiding “back to normal”

Biden ran on a promise to return to political “normalcy,” but that kind of complacency would be deadly

“Life is going to return to normal,” Joe Biden promised in a recent address to the nation. He was talking about life after Covid, but he might as well have been making a promise about life after Trump.

But a return to “normal” would be disastrous. We can’t give in to the allure of “normal” — because normal is what got us here. Normal led to Trump.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the last four years have been traumatic for the nation. After Trump’s abuses of power, human rights violations, blatant racism, and maliciously incompetent response to the pandemic, people are understandably exhaling a sigh of relief.

But we can’t return to “normal” because “normal” was four decades of stagnant wages and widening inequality when almost all economic gains went to the top.

The Republican Party’s core response has been stoking division and hate while suppressing the votes of communities of color. And the Democratic Party abandoned the working class.

Another reason we can’t go back to normal is that “normal” led to our staggering Covid death toll and devastating economic fallout that have most brutally harmed lower-income Americans, especially communities of color.

That’s because normal in this case has been decades of systemic racism as well as shredded safety nets for everyone in need, the most expensive but least adequate healthcare system in the modern world, and a growing climate catastrophe that’s steadily undermining public health.