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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Pulling back from the brink of war

Frank Bruni/NY Times:

We Can’t Afford Trump as Our Commander in Chief

He lacks the counsel, character and credibility to lead us into war.

Donald Trump was chosen in a fit of long-building and largely warranted cynicism, as a gamble and protest. He hadn’t demonstrated any particular strength, only that he could perform a peculiar burlesque of it. He showed zilch in the way of honor, but had a genius for stoking doubts that it still existed in politics at all. His supporters thrilled to a pledge of disruption, not a promise of safe harbor.

And here we are, with an inexperienced, impulsive and perpetually aggrieved commander in chief precisely when we can’t afford one.


Just a reminder of how wrong the DC pundits have been about, well, everything:

Kathleen Parker/WaPo, 2016:

Calm down. We’ll be fine no matter who wins.

If Trump wins, he’ll be held more or less in check by the House and Senate because that’s the way our system of government is set up. Not even Republicans are eager to follow Trump’s lead.

There won’t be a wall. He won’t impose any religion-based immigration restrictions, because even Trump isn’t that lame-brained. He’ll dress up and behave at state dinners and be funny when called upon. He’ll even invite the media to the White House holiday party. He won’t nuke Iran for rude gestures. He won’t assault women. He and Vladimir Putin will hate each other, respectfully.



Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic/Atlantic:

Pelosi and McConnell Are Playing High-Stakes Poker

A guide for the perplexed to the House-Senate standoff over impeachment

Here’s the problem: If Democrats do not have the votes to move forward with bringing in witnesses, they also in effect lack the votes to beat back an effort by McConnell to dismiss the trial or to move directly to the final verdict after opening arguments. In other words, if they don’t have the votes to beat McConnell’s procedural motions, they ultimately have no leverage over the trial, whether the articles show up today or a month from now. In this sense, Pelosi’s threat to withhold the articles may be an empty one.

Except for two important things.

First, if McConnell is bluffing—that is, if he does not, in fact, know whether he has the votes—Pelosi can call his bluff by delivering the articles. The worst case for McConnell, after all, is if the Democrats turn out to have enough votes to win repeated procedural motions and he has not negotiated a deal to limit the number of witnesses. Then the trial could end up hearing from all kinds of people with evidence relevant to the case against the president—Rudy Giuliani, for starters. If McConnell lacks the votes to limit witnesses, a trial without some kind of framework deal to limit the possible damage would be a little like the U.K. careening into a no-deal Brexit scenario. It would be very dangerous. Such a trial could also be protracted, which is highly undesirable for the president in an election year.

Second, holding on to the articles gives Pelosi the ability to trigger a trial—if only a brief one—at any time of her convenience, and Trump’s inconvenience, while he is running for reelection.


LA Times:

Editorial: Trump is winging it with Iran. The results do not look good

In other words, Trump painted himself into a corner with his own bluster. And rather than letting his latest actions speak for themselves, he then pledged an even harsher response if Iran retaliates for Suleimani’s death. If it does, he promised, the U.S will unleash a potentially “disproportionate” response as well as attacks on culturally important sites — the kind of thing the United States condemned Islamic State forces for doing, and which many experts consider a violation of international law. So much for the moral beacon the president shines as the leader of the free world.



Is Experience or Ideology More Important to Voters?

Responses to the ten forced-choice pairings were used to build a typology* of presidential candidate quality priorities along both dimensions – political résumé and ideological stance.  Overall, half of the American electorate can be classified as ideological voters, preferring a specific issue position over any other quality. However, these voters’ priorities are nearly evenly divided among conservative (18%), progressive (15%), and moderate (17%) views. Just over 1 in 4 voters look at a candidate’s background over any specific set of issue stances, with 18% preferring someone with political experience and 9% preferring a political outsider.  Another 22% of American voters, though, do not express a singular preference for any one of the five candidate characteristics polled and are much harder to classify when these two dimensions are considered jointly.

“We have a tendency to talk about the vote choice along just one dimension. Yes, many voters value ideology over other considerations, but quite a few are looking primarily at political pedigree to make their decision. And still others give equal weight to both dimensions. We really need to take this complexity into account before we try to slot voters and candidates into one-dimensional lanes,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Source: Daily Kos

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