Opinion | Get It Together- Democrats – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

After an effective 2018, the party is struggling.

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington last December.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

“The Democratic Party is having a rough summer so far:

  • Congressional Democrats have a weak, confusing message about Robert Mueller’s findings.

  • Congressional Republicans outfoxed Democrats on a border funding bill.

  • Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, needlessly criticized a group of young House progressives — and those progressives responded by accusing her, without evidence, of racism. (President Trump’s ugly remarks yesterday were a reminder of what actual racism looks like.)

  • Several top-tier Democratic presidential candidates have staked out unpopular positions on immigration and Medicare.

  • A few candidates who could have helped the party in other ways are instead running quixotic presidential campaigns. For example, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana could have run for Senate, and the billionaire Tom Steyer could have financed voter registration drives.

  • An otherwise impressive Senate candidate who’s hoping to unseat Mitch McConnell — Amy McGrath, in Kentucky — started her campaign with an embarrassing flip-flop about how she would have voted on Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

I don’t want to exaggerate the impact of these events. Trump’s approval rating has moved up only about two percentage points in recent weeks, according to the polling from Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight. Between 42 and 45 percent of Americans approve of his performance.”

Opinion | Scaling Wokeback Mountain – by Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

Bravo, Maureen Dowd. You go girl. She writes:

“Message: Pelosi is past her prime.

Except she’s not.

And then there’s the real instigator, Saikat Chakrabarti, A.O.C.’s 33-year-old chief of staff, who co-founded Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, both of which recruited progressives — including A.O.C. — to run against moderates in Democratic primaries. The former Silicon Valley Bernie Bro assumed he could apply Facebook’s mantra, “Move fast and break things,” to one of the oldest institutions in the country.

But Congress is not a place where you achieve radical progress — certainly not in divided government. It’s a place where you work at it and work at it and don’t get everything you want.

The progressives act as though anyone who dares disagree with them is bad. Not wrong, but bad, guilty of some human failing, some impurity that is a moral evil that justifies their venom.”

Opinion | Joe Biden- Closet Republican – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

He’s the liberal Bob Dole, the looser Mitt Romney, the supposedly safe bet who’s owed a shot.

Frank Bruni

By Frank Bruni

Opinion Columnist

Joe Biden on Saturday at a campaign stop in South Carolina.CreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times

“It didn’t come to me right away, but finally I recognized the model for Joe Biden’s unusual campaign, the former president whose pitch Biden’s most closely resembles:

George W. Bush.

I’m referring to Bush’s first presidential bid, in 2000, which is remembered mostly for its surreal climax: the seesawing returns on election night, the Florida recount, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively decided the contest in his favor. To the limited extent that political junkies recall his slogans and stump speeches, the phrase “compassionate conservative” comes quickest to mind.

George W. Bush, here with his father, former President George Bush, in 2000, sold himself as a traditional Republican brand.
CreditRick Wilking/Liaison, via Getty Images

But Bush’s strategy and success arguably hinged less on selling himself as a new kind of Republican than on being seen as a tested, trusted, traditional brand. His surname did much of that work, and he augmented it with a sustained oratorical emphasis on propriety. He pledged to “restore honor and integrity” to the White House in the wake of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. He would end the melodrama of the Clinton years and expunge the shame by having the nation essentially pick up where it had left off — with a Bush at the helm.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |
Draft Two. Frank, I think very highly of you, you are one of the best prose writers at the Times. But I disagree with you on this one. Especially the title. For me, the election is primarilly about climate change, and who can win the electoral college. I agree with David Leonhardt, that Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren are fabulous leaders, but they have to produce poll numbers and results in the red states! Joe has the lead now, in red states, and a lot of progressives are in apparent denial that that is extremely important.The IPCC and the US National Climate Assessment of last October? both found that we only have 10 years to turn our economies around, or we will face a 2-4 degree celsius future. There won’t be anything for progressives to make progressive if that happens. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs about the environment and the world at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Greece Is the Good News Story in Europe – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Greek resilience through crisis demonstrates that reports of democracy’s demise are exaggerated.

Roger Cohen

By Roger Cohen

Opinion Columnist

Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a rally in Athens on Thursday.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

“ATHENS — If you’re looking for an optimistic story in Europe, try Greece. Yes, you read that right. Having lost a quarter of its economy in a devastating recession, Greece has turned the corner, its democracy intact, its extremist temptations defeated and its anti-Americanism defunct.

The landslide election on Sunday of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the dynamic leader of the center-right New Democracy party, marked the end of a chapter. Greece rejected Alexis Tsipras, the leftist leader who took the country to the brink of ruin in 2015 before discovering a pragmatic streak. It also voted the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn out of Parliament. At the height of the crisis, Golden Dawn had become the country’s third-largest party.

First into populism, Greece is now first out. For a country in free fall, the anchors of the European Union and NATO are not so negligible after all. Europe is not simply a story of growing nationalism and xenophobia. It’s a continent in violent flux, torn between liberal democratic and nativist currents.

Despite unemployment that reached almost 30 percent, a chaotic near-exit from the euro, huge bailouts to save it from bankruptcy, mandated austerity programs and a wave of desperate refugees from Syria, Greece stabilized itself. It’s a reminder that reports of democracy’s demise are exaggerated.”

Opinion | Trump and the Merchants of Detention – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Every betrayal seems to profit the president and his friends.

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

A sign left by a protester near the detention facility in Homestead, Fla., for immigrant children.CreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters

 

“Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.”

DL: This is an ugly analysis. Unfortunately, it is probably true and accurate.

Opinion | The Democrats Are Confused on Immigration – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

A patchwork made by Roberto Marquez representing an American flag hangs on a portion of the United States-Mexico border in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this month.CreditGuillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The Democratic Party no longer has a clear policy on immigration.

It used to, not so long ago. The party’s leaders knew what they favored and felt comfortable saying so. Their platform generally included: 1) a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to this country illegally but had since obeyed the law; 2) deportation of undocumented immigrants who had since broken the law in significant ways; 3) fairly robust border security and investigation of companies employing undocumented immigrants, to hold down current and future levels of illegal immigration.

Besides favoring these policies, Democrats were also willing to talk about the benefits of limiting immigration and of assimilation.”

“My own view is that the country benefits from significant limits on immigration. As David Frum notes in a recent cover story for The Atlantic, immigration levels were quite low for much of the 20th century — from roughly the 1910s through the 1970s.

The slowdown helped many of the immigrants who arrived in the waves before 1910 (including parts of my family). They faced less competition in the labor market. Labor unions were more easily able to grow, because they were organizing an increasingly assimilated workforce. The immigration slowdown played a role in the great income surge of the post-World War II decades.

Today, I’d favor a policy with a lot of similarities to the Democrats’ platform of the Obama years, including humane treatment of immigrants already here plus tight border security. I’d change the mix of immigration, to let in fewer low-skills immigrants and more high-skills immigrants. Doing so has the potential to reduce inequality and lift economic growth.”

“If nothing else, I’d urge Democrats to look at public opinion on immigration with an open mind. The polling isn’t as favorable as some of the recent conversation on the left has suggested. In a recent Gallup poll, 47 percent of Americans called illegal immigration a critical threat and another 30 percent called it an important threat.”

David Lindsay: This is so important. Are the Democrats listening? In a recent Gallup poll, 77% of Americans think that illegal immigration is either a critical or an important threat.

Opinion | The Democrats’ Leftward Move – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

Too much? Or just enough?

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris raised their hands when asked if their health care plans would abolish private insurance as Joe Biden looked on during a 2020 Democratic primary debate last week. Ms. Harris later moderated her position.CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

“After the Democratic debates last week, two of my more conservative colleagues — David Brooks and Bret Stephens — criticized the party for moving too far to the left for its own good. Many liberals reacted to the columns with either anger or disdain, saying that the Democrats don’t need to win over center-right elites in order to win the White House in 2020.

My own view falls somewhere in between that of my colleagues and their critics. On basic economic issues, I think Democrats have plenty of room to adopt a more progressive agenda. Substantively, that’s a smart agenda for an economy suffering from severe inequality and climate change. Politically, it fits with the populist, progressive views that most Americans hold on economic matters. Higher taxes on the rich, to take one example, are extremely popular.

But just because the Democrats have room to move to the left on some issues doesn’t mean they’re wise to move to the left on all of them. And I think the arguments — both substantively and politically — are much weaker for some of the policies Democrats are now pushing.

Free college for all ends up helping a lot of affluent families who don’t need help (as Pete Buttigieg has done a nice job of explaining). Trying to abolish private health insurance will lead to an epic political fight that will crowd out every other issue, including climate change. And abandoning the party’s traditional support for rigorous immigration enforcement would encourage more illegal immigration. (Here is a longer version of my thoughts about the Democrats’ strange new vagueness on immigration policy.)

I recognize that many progressives are to my left on at least one of these issues, and I respect their substantive arguments. But the political case strikes me as much weaker, especially on immigration and health care. Most Americans aren’t in favor of a more open immigration policy or the banning of private health insurance. And I’m skeptical that these issues are potent enough among occasional voters to inspire a turnout surge. The politics of free college are arguably better, but some polls suggest that it too is unpopular.

So I wonder: Are any of these priorities worth increasing the chances of President Trump’s re-election?”

David Lindsay:  I support all of the above.

Opinion | How to Fight Gerrymandering Now – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Demonstrators protested against gerrymandering in front of the Supreme Court in March.CreditJoshua Roberts/Reuters

 

“John Roberts and the four other Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices last month gave their approval to extreme gerrymandering, which means that federal courts will no longer be able to reject political maps drawn for partisan reasons.

That’s a bad development for American democracy. Political parties will be able to entrench power by drawing legislative districts that allow them to win elections even when they receive fewer votes.

So what can opponents of gerrymandering do? I see several strategies:

1. Criticize the Roberts court for its partisanship. Both parties engage in shameful gerrymandering. But Republicans have done much more of it than Democrats. To be blunt, five Republican-appointed justices — including one who’s on the court only because Senate Republicans effectively stole a seat — delivered an enormous, anti-democratic gift to their own political party.”

Opinion | The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred.

Timothy Egan

By Timothy Egan,    Contributing Opinion Writer

“Kids in cages and tanks for the tyrant. After that dictator-friendly Fourth of July, it’s time for all true patriots to conduct a political gut check.

“Like many people, I’m worried about the Democrats. A majority of Americans are desperate for someone to dislodge the despot from the White House. And yet some Democrats are pushing policy positions — such as taking away private health insurance from more than 150 million people — that are deeply unpopular.

The smarter candidates will rethink this, and soon, or otherwise ensure that an awful American aberration is more than a one-off.

But as troubled as I am by the Democrats, I’m terrified of the Republicans. In numerous surveys of a party that has adopted the worst pathologies of President Trump, Republicans have shown themselves to be explicitly anti-American. The Founders would gag. So would Abraham Lincoln.”

“. . . . Trump has compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, which is like comparing a noxious weed to a redwood tree. When the anti-immigrant Know Nothing party was at its height in the 1850s, Lincoln had this to say: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be?” He continued, “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’” ”

David Lindsay:

Thank you Tim Eagan, for light and truth. Here is the most popular comment, which, along with many others, I endorse.

CD In Maine
Freeport, ME
Times Pick

Thank you Timothy Egan for your harsh characterization of the American South. I so often dream about the kind of nation the U.S. would be but for the outsized influence of southern culture on our government and politics, which has been a counter-force to the realization of the American ideal since the country’s birth. We would more likely resemble Canada or New Zealand. The Republican Party is now the political reflection of the worst of southern culture. The racism, militarism, paranoia, and anti-intellectualism that animates the Republican Party has a rich history in that region. There is no Trump without the South. I hate to generalize so broadly, but I am tired of a living in a nation where a senator from Kentucky rules the country. I am tired of being unable to implement sensible policy of the kind found everywhere else in the world because Wyoming has as many senators as New York. I am tired of pandering to uneducated rural voters because the electoral college disenfranchises millions of voters in blue states. I am tired subsidizing red states while they moan about the evils of a government that redistributes resources to them. But mostly, especially on July 4, I am tired of being told that I am the one who is “un-American.” I just want the Confederacy to go away, once and for all.

26 Replies1034 Recommended

Opinion | The Biggest Threat to America Is Us – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Near the close of last Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, Chuck Todd asked the candidates what he called “a simple question.” In “one word,” he asked, who or what is the biggest geopolitical threat to America today?

Reflecting on that moment, I asked myself what I would say. It didn’t take long to decide. It’s not China or Russia or Iran. It’s us. We’ve become the biggest threat to ourselves.

China, Russia, Iran and even North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man” aren’t going to take us down. Only we can take ourselves down.

Only we can ensure that the American dream — the core promise we’ve made to ourselves that each generation will do better than its parents — is not fulfilled, because we fail to adapt in this age of rapidly accelerating changes in technology, markets, climates, the workplace and education.

And that is nearly certain to happen if we don’t stop treating politics as entertainment, if we don’t get rid of a president who daily undermines truth and trust — the twin fuels needed to collaborate and adapt together — if we don’t prevent the far left from pulling the Democrats over a cliff with reckless ideas like erasing the criminal distinction between those who enter America legally and those who don’t, and if we fail to forge what political analyst David Rothkopf described in a recent Daily Beast essay as “a new American majority.”

David Lindsay:

Clearly, Friedman is afraid, like I am, that if we put up a far left candidate who is squishy on stopping illegal immigration, we could very well end up with four more years of Trump. As it is, we still have 572 more days left in his first and hopefully only term. It matters, what all those white people in all those red, agricultural states think, because they controle the electoral college.The blue states can only win the popular vote. With climate change and global warming accellerating, we can not afford to lose the next election.