Jan 15 2021

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: Four Rules That Should Guide Bidenomics

Basically, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Here we go again. For the second time in 12 years a newly elected Democratic president is inheriting an economy in deep distress. And while it’s hard to focus on such things after last week’s Trumpist putsch, a lot depends on whether Joe Biden’s plan to deal with our economic woes is effective.

The narrow Democratic margin in Congress means that the most ambitious progressive goals will have to be put on hold. But the rescue package Biden unveiled Thursday already indicates he won’t exhibit the excessive caution that inhibited President Barack Obama’s response to economic crisis.

Still, in case anyone on the Biden team is feeling cautious, let me offer four rules, based on hard experience, that should encourage them to be bold in dealing with the mess we’re in.

Eugene Robinson: The Republicans are out of time to repudiate Trump’s election lies

If they don’t reaffirm the integrity of the election, the country may never recover.

President Trump is impeached yet again, disgraced yet again, soon to slink away in shame. But he leaves a poison trail behind him as he departs, an insidious Big Lie about “voter fraud” that gravely threatens our democracy. The Republican Party he leads is out of time to repudiate that lie. If its members fail to act now, they may never extricate themselves, or their country, from it. [..]

The biggest problem facing the nation now is not what to do with Trump, who will soon become yesterday’s news. The crisis is that more than 70 percent of Republican voters believe — falsely — that there was some kind of widespread fraud in the election. The essence of democracy is accepting both victory and loss as legitimate outcomes.

A GOP that internalizes and retains Trump’s conspiratorial worldview is not a political party. It is a dangerous cult. Elected officials who have cynically — or cravenly — gone along with that cult’s lies will not find it easy to reverse course.

Much more important than whether Trump is convicted in his coming trial is whether Republicans level with their constituents and tell them that Trump is lying.

If Republicans won’t — or can’t — tell the truth about the November election, they are no longer participants in our democracy. They are its enemies.

Amanda Marcotte: Republicans threaten violence if Trump faces repercussions — but it was impunity that moved his mob

Trump and his mob believe they’ll never pay the piper

There is no way to defend Donald Trump’s behavior last week, when, after pouring gasoline for months, he lit a match and set the insurrection fire. And, by and large, Republicans aren’t even trying. Instead, the Republican arguments against impeaching the president for a second time largely cite “concerns” — or what might be better described as threats — that any effort to hold Trump accountable for his behavior may anger an already angry mob, leading to more violence.  [..]

Of course, Trump lost the Nov. 3 election to Joe Biden by 74 electoral votes, the exact number he won by in 2016. Yet his team continues to amplify the foundational lie that lead to last week’s violent desecration of the U.S. Capitol. In addition, multiple Republicans have spent the days since whining about Trump being “canceled,” callously acting as if the loss of his Twitter account is the real crime while ignoring the ones he incited, like beating a cop to death with a fire extinguisher during a treacherous riot.

The flaws in this let-the-terrorists win argument should be immediately evident.

For one thing, Trump supporters already violently tried to overthrow the government — not because Trump was being impeached, but because they reject the results of a democratic election and believe Trump should be illegally installed as an authoritarian leader.

Karen Tumulty: Trump’s stench will cling to Republicans long after he’s gone

The 45th president leaves Republicans at a hinge point on his way out the door.

Donald John Trump now bears the distinction of being the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

Unlike the first time, this was a bipartisan congressional rebuke. Ten Republicans — including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who ranks third in the GOP House leadership — joined 222 Democrats in voting to impeach.

But Trump is unlikely to pay any price beyond political humiliation. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) let it be known, through a tactical leak to the New York Times, that he thinks Trump’s impeachment was warranted, McConnell does not plan to reconvene the upper chamber to conduct a trial in the week before Trump’s term expires.

The constitutional grounds for holding an unprecedented trial after Trump leaves office are questionable, as former federal appeals court judge J. Michael Luttig argued in a Post op-ed this week.

The wisdom of doing so is even more questionable. Such a politically fraught exercise could undermine Joe Biden’s ability to successfully launch his presidency amid a convergence of challenges: the covid-19 pandemic, a ravaged economy, a racial reckoning and frayed U.S. relationships with international allies.

Even more than it was 13 months ago, the case for removing Trump from office was utterly clear.

This time, lawmakers were not asked to adjudicate conflicting accounts of a private phone call with a foreign leader. The evidence here was what they had seen and heard with their own eyes and ears just a week earlier.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Inevitable End

Has the reckoning come too late?

The House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report quotes, at length, the speech that Donald Trump gave to his devotees on Jan. 6 before many of them stormed the Capitol, baying for execution. [..]

Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Half of all presidential impeachments since the Republic began have been impeachments of Trump. This latest impeachment is different than the first, and not just because it was bipartisan. It culminates a week in which Trump has finally faced the broad social pariahdom he’s always deserved.

When a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol, killing one policeman and pummeling others, it also tore down a veil. Suddenly, all but the most fanatical partisans admitted that Trump was exactly who his fiercest critics have always said he was.