Opinion | Trump’s Not Superman. He’s Superspreader. – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Julio Cortez/Associated Press

“The most important question today is not what President Trump has learned from his bout with Covid-19. Trump is one of those leaders who never learns and never forgets, as the saying goes. The most important question is what have we as citizens learned — and, in particular, what have Trump’s supporters learned?

Because the debate over Trump himself is over. The verdict is in: He cast himself as Superman, but he turns out to have been Superspreader — not only of a virus but of a whole way of looking at the world in a pandemic that was dangerously wrong for himself and our nation. To re-elect him would be an act of collective madness.

But while I see it that way, and maybe you see it that way, will enough Trump voters see it that way? That will depend on Joe Biden’s ability to help them see all the big and small things where Trump has been so fundamentally mistaken.

The list of “small” things is long: Caution in a pandemic is not a sign of weakness, but of wisdom. Face masks in a pandemic are not cultural markers, just common-sense protection that says nothing other than “I’m a responsible person who wants to protect myself and my grandparent, myself and my customer, myself and my co-worker, myself and my neighbor from an invisible pathogen.” “

Opinion | Who Can Win America’s Politics of Humiliation? – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Joe Biden at a community meeting in Kenosha, Wis., last week.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

About four years ago, without asking anybody, I changed my job description. It used to be “New York Times foreign affairs columnist.” Instead, I started calling myself the “New York Times humiliation and dignity columnist.” I even included it on my business card.

It had become so obvious to me that so much of what I’d been doing since I became a journalist in 1978 was reporting or opining about people, leaders, refugees, terrorists and nation-states acting out on their feelings of humiliation and questing for dignity — the two most powerful human emotions.

I raise this now because the success of Joe Biden’s campaign against Donald Trump may ride on his ability to speak to the sense of humiliation and quest for dignity of many Trump supporters, which Hillary Clinton failed to do.

It has been obvious ever since Trump first ran for president that many of his core supporters actually hate the people who hate Trump, more than they care about Trump or any particular action he takes, no matter how awful.

Opinion | A Geopolitical Earthquake Just Hit the Mideast – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“For once, I am going to agree with President Trump in his use of his favorite adjective: “huge.”

The agreement brokered by the Trump administration for the United Arab Emirates to establish full normalization of relations with Israel, in return for the Jewish state forgoing, for now, any annexation of the West Bank, was exactly what Trump said it was in his tweet: a “HUGE breakthrough.”

It is not Anwar el-Sadat going to Jerusalem — nothing could match that first big opening between Arabs and Israelis. It is not Yasir Arafat shaking Yitzhak Rabin’s hand on the White House lawn — nothing could match that first moment of public reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

But it is close. Just go down the scorecard, and you see how this deal affects every major party in the region — with those in the pro-American, pro-moderate Islam, pro-ending-the-conflict-with-Israel-once-and-for-all camp benefiting the most and those in the radical pro-Iran, anti-American, pro-Islamist permanent-struggle-with-Israel camp all becoming more isolated and left behind.

It’s a geopolitical earthquake.

To fully appreciate why, you need to start with the internal dynamics of the deal. It was Trump’s peace plan drawn up by Jared Kushner, and their willingness to stick with it, that actually created the raw material for this breakthrough. Here is how.”

Opinion | “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other,” Should Be Biden’s Bumper Sticker – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

“I almost — but not quite — feel sorry for Donald Trump. He’s at war with two “invisible enemies” at once — the coronavirus and Joe Biden — and both remain highly elusive, the pathogen by nature and the politician by design.

Biden, who made a rare public appearance on Tuesday, has been wise to stay out of sight. Trump is now in a full-on race to the bottom with himself, pushing uglier and uglier positions that appeal to smaller and smaller segments of the American public. Why get in his way?

Of course, eventually Biden will debate the incumbent and will need a simple, clear message to counter Trump’s tired “Make America Great Again” trope.

I have an idea for Biden’s bumper sticker.

As I think about what kind of president Biden wants to be and what kind of president America needs him to be, the slogan that comes to mind was suggested to me by the environmental innovator Hal Harvey. Harvey didn’t know he was suggesting it; he just happened to sign off a recent email to me by writing: “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.”

David Lindsay: Thomas Friedman keeps getting great ideas from the environmentalist Hal Harvey, whose short plan for saving the planet is called the four zero’s, and has been incomporated into the show Kathleen and I present on nature and climate change.

Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“My favorite story in John Bolton’s book about the Trump Fun House — sorry, White House — was that President Trump appealed to China’s leader to buy more U.S. agricultural products to boost Trump’s farm vote and his re-election.

Donald: Stop begging. Both Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have decided to vote for you. Don’t worry!

They know that as long as you’re president, America will be in turmoil. For Xi, that means we’re a less formidable economic rival, and for Vlad, that means we’re a less attractive democratic model for his people. They also both know that as long as you’re president the U.S. will never be able to galvanize a global coalition of allies against them, which is what China fears most on trade, human rights and Covid-19 and Russia on Ukraine and Syria.

Don’t take it from me. Here’s what Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and deputy representative in Geneva, told Bloomberg’s Peter Martin: “If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances.”

Chinese officials, Martin reported, see a unified front on trade or human rights by the U.S. and its allies as “Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence,” and Trump’s behavior ensures that will never come about.”

David Lindsay:

It has become clear to me that Bolten’s publisher sent free advance copies of his new book to every columnist at the NYT who writes about foreign policy ever. I should complain to my own publisher, and perhaps fire them, for not doing the same courtesy for my book, The Tay Son Rebellion!

Opinion | Is Trump Trying to Spread Covid-19? – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

When the full record of the coronavirus in America is written, historians may argue that President Trump’s biggest mistake was not what he failed to do in early 2020, when the right strategy for combating the virus was widely debated, unproven and hard. No, they will point to what Trump failed to do in June 2020, when the right strategy was clear, proven and relatively easy.

No doubt, this virus is inscrutable. It pops up, it disappears, it reappears, some people are symptomatic, some asymptomatic, some seem to have natural immunities to it that we don’t understand, and once it infects people it hits in radically different ways: It comes in the equivalents of decaf, regular and double macchiato — and you never know if you’re going to get the mild or the extra-strength version.

But there is so much that we do know now that could make this post-lockdown phase so much less dangerous and so much more economically viable than it is.

We know that countries where everyone wears a mask outside the home sharply reduce the spread and that people who practice strict social distancing infect fewer people and are infected less often. And we know that people who avoid “superspreading” events — large, prolonged social gatherings, religious services and crammed nightclubs and workplaces, where one highly contagious person can quickly spew the virus to many others — are less likely to get infected.

Opinion |  How to Make the Coronavirus Pandemic Even Worse – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Having a pandemic is really bad. Having a pandemic and a civil war together is really, really bad. Welcome to Donald Trump’s America 2020.

If you feel dizzy from watching Trump signal left — issuing guidelines for how states should properly emerge from pandemic lockdowns — while turning right — urging people to liberate their states from lockdowns, ignore his own guidelines and even dispute the value of testing — you’re not alone.

Since Trump’s pronouncements are simultaneously convoluted, contradictory and dishonest, here’s my guess at what he is saying:

“The Greatest Generation preserved American liberty and capitalism by taking Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day — in the face of a barrage of Nazi shelling that could and did kill many of them. I am calling on our generation to preserve American liberty and capitalism today by going shopping in the malls of Omaha, Nebraska, in the face of a coronavirus pandemic that will likely only kill 1 percent of you, if you do get infected. So be brave — get back to work and take back your old life.”

Yes, if you total up all of Trump’s recent words and deeds, he is saying to the American people: between the two basic models for dealing with the pandemic in the world — China’s rigorous top-down, test, track, trace and quarantine model — while waiting for a vaccine to provide herd immunity — and Sweden’s more bottom up, protect-the-most-vulnerable-and-let-the-rest-get-back-to-work-and-get-the-infection-and-develop-natural-herd-immunity model, your president has decided for Sweden’s approach.

He just hasn’t told the country or his coronavirus task force or maybe even himself.

But this is the only conclusion you can draw from all the ways Trump has backed off from his own government guidelines and backed up his end-the-lockdown followers, who, like most of the country, have grown both weary of the guidelines and desperate to get back to work and paychecks.

But, in keeping with my D-Day analogy, Trump has basically decided to dispatch Americans into this battle against this coronavirus without the equivalent of maps, armor, helmets, guns or any coordinated strategy to minimize their casualty count. He’s also dispatching them without national leadership — so it’s every platoon, or state, for themselves, maximizing the chances of virus spread between people who want to go shopping and those who still want to shelter in place.

He’s also dispatching them without a national plan to protect the most vulnerable, particularly the elderly, and without setting the example that everyone should wear face masks and practice social distancing whenever they are at work or in a public setting. Finally, he’s dispatching them without a plan of retreat if way too many vulnerable people are infected and harmed as we take to the malls of Omaha and beyond.”

David Lindsay: Great op-ed, and comments. One of my favorite comments:

bill
sunny isles beach, fl
Times Pick

There could have been federal leadership if our federal leader did his job. It could have been good for him too. If Trump had taken the impending arrival of a pandemic seriously, he could have looked like a hero, instead of a snake looking for a hole to hide in while he blames everyone…I mean everyone…for our disaster but himself. ] Meanwhile Trump is still not doing his job regarding the pandemic. We still don’t have a national strategy for testing sufficient numbers so that we can identify the disease spreaders, isolate them, treat them, and track who they might have spread the disease to. It’s not rocket science. It’s just common sense. It takes a functional, grown-up president to oversee and coordinate it. It’s a tragedy that we don’t have one. I’ve never been a great fan of Andrew Cuomo, but contrast how effectively he’s handling the New York pandemic compared to Trump. It’s appalling. Trump has got to go…the sooner the better.

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Opinion | Make America Immune Again – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“If Joe Biden is looking for a bumper sticker for his campaign against Donald Trump, I’d suggest this one: “Make America Immune Again.”

This pandemic has both exposed and exacerbated the fact that over the last 20 years we as a country have weakened so many sources of our strength. We’ve simultaneously eroded our cognitive, ecological, economic, social, governance, public health and personal health immune systems — all the sources of resilience we need to get through this pandemic with the least damage to lives and livelihoods.

All these immune deficiencies are the logical outcome of how we’ve let ourselves go as a country, how we’ve let ourselves be dumb-as-we-wanna-be for so many years — devaluing science and reading, bashing public servants for political sport, turning politics into entertainment, not to mention adopting horrible eating habits that have left 40 percent of Americans obese.

Dumb-as-we-wanna-be is epitomized by the guy in Austin, Texas, who last week shoved a “park ranger into the water while the ranger was explaining to a crowd the need for social distancing,” as CNN reported.”

Opinion | We Need Great Leadership Now, and Here’s What It Looks Like – By Thomas L. Friedman with Dov Seidman- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Martin Barraud/Getty Images

David Lindsay: This NYT editorial is in my opinion, their articulate position on a new political platform for the post covid world. It takes up an entire page of print in the paper.
I have pulled out one of my favorite parts below after the intro.

“In a time of crisis, like we are in now, with people feeling frightened and uncertain, leadership doesn’t just matter more. It matters exponentially more.

Because even small errors in navigation can have exponential consequences when you’re spending $1 trillion in a week — while fighting a pandemic that spreads so fast that hesitating for just a week can totally sap your ability to manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.

In moments like these, when the choices we make are so impactful, people desperately want to believe that their leaders know what they’re doing. But they quickly learn that in times like these, leaders either grow or swell — they either grow out of their weaknesses and rise to the level of the challenge or all of their worst weaknesses swell to new levels.

And pandemics leave nothing hidden. They flow into every tiny corner and pore and expose every weakness or strength in your society: how much trust you have in your government; how much social trust exists in your community to enable collaboration; the strength of your companies’ balance sheets; how prepared your government is to tackle the unexpected; how many of its people are living paycheck to paycheck; and what kind of public health care safety nets you’ve built.”

‘”. . .  Because this is such a critical leadership test at all levels, and because it is so not over, I called my teacher and friend Dov Seidman — who is the founder and chairman of both the ethics and compliance company LRN and the How Institute for Society, which promotes values-based leadership — to explore this issue. This is an edited version of our conversation:. . . ”

Opinion | What America Needs Next: A Biden National Unity Cabinet – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

“In the last Democratic debate, Joe Biden declared that he would nominate a woman as his vice-presidential running mate. That felt right at the time. But times have changed. Biden needs to go much, much further: At the Democratic convention he needs to name not just his vice president, but his entire cabinet. And it needs to be a totally different kind of cabinet — a national unity cabinet — from Democrats on the Bernie Sanders left to Republicans on the Mitt Romney right. Why?

Because while most people are playing nice right now managing this virus, the wreckage, pain and anger it will leave behind will require megadoses of solidarity and healing from the top.

And even if we get to the other side of this crisis by January, there are going to be a set of wrenching debates around who got bailed out and who didn’t and around how much civil liberty we should sacrifice to track and quarantine Covid-19 carriers until there is a vaccine. If handled on a partisan basis, those issues will rip our country apart.

In short, if this isn’t the time to leave behind the hyperpartisanship that has made it nearly impossible for us to do anything big and hard for two decades, then when?

Considering all the people who have come together in this crisis to tend to neighbors, contribute to hospitals, share scarce resources and learn from one another how to combat Covid-19, would it be asking too much for our political system to mirror the best in us rather than to continue to exacerbate the worst? Americans today deserve the government they need more than ever. It has literally become a matter of life and death.

Biden, because he doesn’t run anything right now, has had a hard time demonstrating leadership. The one giant contrast that he could draw with President Trump, though, is the approach he would take to governing.

Americans are not focused on this now — but they will be. And when they are, Biden needs to show that he isn’t running to be president of the 48 percent (or less), as Trump is; he’s not trying to suppress the vote, as Trump is; he’s not running to squeak by in the Electoral College, as Trump is. He needs to show he’s running to be a majority president, a unity president — but not just unity for unity’s sake, but unity of purpose based on a set of shared values for rebuilding America.

Biden should enlist people ready to embrace these values:

1) They have to believe in science — and not just around the coronavirus but around climate change, which is the next train coming at us.

2) If they were in power during this crisis, they have to have led their city, state or business in a way that took the science of this epidemic seriously from the start and cared for those under them.”

David Lindsay: This not my favorite Friedman piece. Pete Buttigieg was my choice for VP. I think saying the VP has to be female, was Biden’s first really big mistake. He mentions three women, but they are unknowns to most of us. We know that Buttigieg can speak, and think like a president.

The comments are interesting, and here is my favorite so far:

Drew
San Jose, Costa Rica
Times Pick

A good start but a few adjustments are needed. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is far the best person for Ambassador to the UN. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should stay put for now. And perhaps Andrew Yang should be Secretary of Energy over Karsner. But the big flaw in this line-up, there has to be some role for Sen. Sanders. Something important. Some office with real authority. Something worthy of the man. Not sure what it could be but for certain VP Biden must bring in Sanders in a visible way, address his concerns and gain his cooperation. The appearance of exclusion was Secretary Clinton’s biggest mistake.

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