Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: We won, we won, we won, also Trump is still a racist jackass

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Wall Street Journal / YouTube Can the Democrats Ride a Blue...
Wall Street Journal / YouTube

This is a news article, not a commentary, but I wanted to pound this topic again so I’m using it anyway.

Washington Post: On Trump’s fear that he might melt if he got wet.

President Trump flew 3,800 miles to this French capital city for ceremonies to honor the military sacrifice in World War I, hoping to take part in the kind of powerful ode to the bravery of the armed forces that he was unable to hold in Washington.

But on his first full day here, it rained on his substitute parade weekend.

Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump and the first lady had scuttled plans, due to bad weather, for their first stop in the weekend’s remembrance activities — a visit to the solemn Aisne Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood.

Every other allied leader managed to get out there and hold a damn umbrella. So why not Trump? the idea that the commander in chief could not be stand a little rain to honor men who died in mud made from their own blood is repugnant. That’s the word. The idea that Trump sat around in his PJs all day streaming Fox and tweeting threats against people who were fleeing for their lives before walls of fire and smoke isn’t just disgusting … it’s also suspicious. Because while Trump can trust his followers back in the States to stick with him even though he frequently shows that he doesn’t comprehend the idea of personal bravery, sitting around the hotel while everyone else attended the ceremonies so obviously makes Trump look like such a huge loser that even he can’t have missed it. Pool reports from the dinner last night also note that others strolled around the streets of the not-that-rainy Paris, Trump did not.

It’s all more than enough to suggest that there was a lot more going on here than just concerns that Trump’s adult diapers might start soaking up the atmosphere.

The sight of dignitaries arriving at other sites outside Paris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, led some foreign policy analysts to speculate the U.S. commander in chief just wasn’t up for it.

Up for it physically, mentally, or both?

Max Boot: On Trump’s demonstration of contempt for the armed forces.
Washington Post

It seems that soldiers who were captured aren’t the only ones that President Trump doesn’t like. He also apparently doesn’t care much for the ones who died for their country.

Trump isn’t fond of the live ones, either, as he’s prioritized weeks of playing golf and eating the world’s best chocolate cake over making a single visit to soldiers in the field. He does like military contractors though — especially when they’re selling bombs to his murderous pal, bin Salman.

The White House explained that bad weather grounded the helicopters that Trump and his entourage were planning to take. Yet somehow bad weather did not prevent French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from attending outdoor ceremonies commemorating the end of World War I that afternoon. Somehow bad weather did not stop Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired general John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, from attending the very ceremony that Trump could not make.

If Trump was puking from a bad Big Mac on the plane, or one too many scoops of ice-cream coated cake washed down with Coke — why not say so? Admitting to being sick would be much better than admitting to simply have disdain for the military.

Michael Beschloss: On what we shouldn’t be celebrating when commemorating Armistice Day.
Washington Post

On the Nov. 11 100th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War I, I’m celebrating the heroism of American warriors in Europe. Perhaps 116,000 of them died in that struggle. Their commander in chief, Woodrow Wilson, did not match the quality of their service. During the conflict, Wilson made serious mistakes as a political leader that should never be forgotten.

Woodrow Wilson was a racist son of a bitch. “He was a man of his times” is never an excuse, but Wilson wasn’t a man of his times. He wasn’t even a man of previous times, He was a man who brought new levels of racism. Take it, presidential historian Beschloss …

Wilson’s missteps in wartime were hardly his only defects. His most disgraceful flaw was his racism. Given his high-flown rhetoric as a professor about elevating humankind, Wilson especially stood out in his white supremacy. He was not a man of his time but a throwback. His two predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, had looked far kindlier on African Americans and their rights.

Wilson also pressed for, and got, that predecessor to the Patriot Act, the Espionage Act “giving him extraordinary power to retaliate against Americans who opposed him.” Parts of that law are still in effect. And still odious.

Mike Pence: Has a column on US policy in the Indo-Pacific.
Washington Post

Last year in …

That’s enough.

Elections 2018

And now, a big bunch of hindsight. Some of which really gets close to 20/20.

Leonard Pitts: On understanding where we stand.
Miami Herald

Most of all, progressives wanted a clear rebuke of the moral abomination that is Donald Trump. They didn’t get that, either. Instead, the midterms went a long way toward proving that Trump’s rise to power and the intolerance that fueled it were no aberration.

Consider that before the election, Trump declared himself a “nationalist” and issued an anti-immigrant commercial so racist it was even pulled by Fox “News.” And that Rep. Steve King of Iowa criticized diversity during an interview with an Austrian political party with actual ties to actual Nazis. And that the GOP trotted out one voter suppression scheme after another, each more odious than the last.

Then, consider that Republican voters were OK with all of it. As a synagogue in Pittsburgh was mourning victims of an anti-Semitic massacre, as a town near Louisville was laying to rest victims of a racist shooting, GOP voters gave thumbs up to bare-knuckle bigotry and naked intolerance straight out of the 1940s. Of all the things progressives wanted but did not get Tuesday, a clear rejection of that hatred may be the most troubling.

We’ll just have to settle for getting that other thing.

Most of all, they wanted to retake the House of Representatives. They got that, too.

Which means that, for the first time in his misbegotten presidency — likely the first time in his misbegotten life — Donald Trump now faces accountability. No more lying and lawbreaking while a bunch of invertebrates calling themselves a Congress look the other way. “Process server” is about to be a growth industry in Washington.

I do like the sound of that.

Moira Donegan: Was one of several pundits still baffled by one result from last week.
The Guardian

For the past two years, the American left has been haunted by a number: 53. It is the percentage of white women who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. In the sectors of the left where the figure and its implications have become a perennial theme, the number is treated both as disappointing and darkly unsurprising, a reflection of the conventional wisdom that white women would rather choose the racism espoused by the Republican party than join in the moral coalition represented by men of color and other women. On the left, this number can elicit exasperation, rage, and even suspicions about the moral legitimacy of the feminist project. It casts doubts on the political convictions of liberal white women, colors leftist perception of female-coded liberal political projects like the Women’s March, and has prompted long-overdue calls for increased political leadership by women of color.

And though it’s little consolation when talking about Trump …

 The truth is that the 53% of white women who voted for Trump in the last presidential election was actually an improvement on even worse numbers from previous cycles. White women supported Mitt Romney at 56% in 2012, and supported George W Bush by 55% in 2004. Even these robust showings by Republican white women were down from their previous highs: Ronald Reagan won a staggering 62% of white women in 1984.

Don’t forget, Reagan did that while running a campaign where “welfare queens” took the place of caravans, and black gang members stood in for MS-13. Mr. “Shining City” ran on racism.

Cliff Albright continues on the same theme.
Washington Post

Even in the South, candidates who are unapologetically progressive and who motivate their base of black, brown and young voters can claim victory. Take for instance, Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, where in 2017 Jon Ossoff lost a special election by three points to Republican Karen Handel. Although Ossoff received support from progressives nationwide, his campaign was not particularly progressive, and some argued at the time that his outreach to black and brown communities was lacking.

Ossof takes more kicks than he deserves. Much of the infrastructure of the party within the district, including connections with communities of color, is the infrastructure Ossof’s campaign built and left pretty much ready to go. He’s not the villain, or the loser of this story.

Fast forward to Tuesday and Lucy McBath, a black woman whose son was killed in a racist shooting. Her bona fides as a gun-control advocate and a “Mother of the Movement” helped her gain the victory Ossoff was unable to achieve.

The things that Albright is crediting here, are not exactly things that Ossoff could have changed. None of this takes anything away from McBath, who ran a sterling campaign and brought together progressive communities of all colors.

Andrew Gawthorpe: Has his take on the midterms.
The Guardian

Democrats took control of the House. They won the popular vote and, for the first time since 2008, independent voters – who aren’t affiliated with either party – backed the Democrats, and by a sizable margin. Democrats also won important Senate and gubernatorial races in states that will be key to beating Donald Trump in 2020, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

That … seems pretty much like winning.

That the Democrats have not won an even larger share of seats in Congress is largely due to gerrymandering, which gives Republicans a built-in advantage in the House. But in the long term, last night’s results will also help to restore fairness to American democracy. Florida overturned a Jim Crow-era voting ban affecting 1.4 million felons, including nearly 25% of the state’s African American adults – the greatest expansion of voting rights since the civil rights era. Meanwhile, key state-level wins will give Democrats the chance to redraw districts and undo gerrymandering.

Yet the elections were not the stunning repudiation of Trump and the Republican party that many liberals, profoundly disturbed by the nation’s trajectory, had hoped for.

Hoped for isn’t the same as expected. Republicans voted Republican, and they showed up to support Trump’s racist, xenophobic push, just as they had in 2016. How could we think otherwise, after 20,301 (at least) New York Times articles reminding us that Trump voters still love Trump?

Ana Marie Cox says the message is that there is no message.

Humans, and even political pundits, have a natural inclination to create patterns and narratives out of chaos, and never is that more obvious than during midterm elections, when they are called upon to make sense of thousands of different outcomes that hinge on hundreds of different idiosyncratic local issues. Sometimes those pronouncements are anodyne, obvious and mostly harmless: “Americans are still waiting for a national leader ,” perhaps. Or the equally timeless and meaningless nostrum, “Candidates matter.” But amid the hyperbole of the Trump era, analysts’ attempts to paper over the country’s restlessness with bland truisms are both a failure of imagination and a disservice to those Americans who have poured their labor, their money and their lives into their communities.

Yeah, except … no. Because that sounds like just as much as a “bland truism” as anything that came before. Yes, people like patterns. Also … sometimes there are patterns.

Joe Scarborough gets to deliver his take. Because I like his take.
Washington Post

President Trump lost. And it was not even close.

On Tuesday, the president and his allies paid a high political price for their preposterous claims about caravans filled with leprosy, Middle Eastern terrorists, Hispanic “breeders” and gang invaders. Those lies cost the hobbled president every bit as much as his vicious attacks on the free press and his foul campaign calls to imprison political adversaries. Despite all claims to the contrary, Trump Republicans faced a bitter reckoning at the polls in dozens of congressional races and hundreds of legislative battles across the United States.

There. That sounds right. Excuse me, while I put on “Go!” by the Indigo Girls. Okay. I’m ready.

Trumpism proved to be so politically toxic that Republicans likely took their worst shellacking in U.S. House races since the darkest days of Watergate. Trump Republicans lost at least 30 seats in Congress and took a beating nationally. In state legislative races, the tally was even worse, with more than 300 Republican legislators watching their political careers get washed away by the blue wave.

And yes, I’ve been to eight Indigo Girls concerts.

Heather Cox Richardson: Gives the meaning of this election.
The Guardian

American democracy just got some breathing room. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night, where they can put a check on runaway Donald Trump and the compliant Republican Congress. Had this not happened, America’s descent into oligarchy was imminent.

But the election is only a stay. It is not the triumph of American democracy.

It could have been. Tuesday night’s blue wave was a popular tsunami. Despite voter suppression in states like Georgia, Democrats still won by 7.1% popular margin. Unfortunately, because of gerrymandering, by which Republicans have cut extreme districts that favor themselves, Democrats will pick up only 27 seats despite their popular strength. A majority of voters – by a large margin – rejects the Republican party, but the party has rigged the system to retain power.

Obviously, Cox Richardson was writing this piece earlier in the week before some of the tight races began to be decided. Because it’s going to be at least 35 seats, and looking like the final number may be 39.

Hey, let’s listen to Closer to Fine. I’m feeling pretty good about these results.

Beto-Mania

James Henson is ready to do it again.
Washington Post

While a truly competitive party system did not manifest Tuesday, there are signs that double-digit margins for Texas Republicans are numbered. If Democrats want to finish what O’Rourke started, they need to follow his lead. And if O’Rourke wants to secure a spot in the U.S. Senate, he should look to 2020 — and challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

O’Rourke was part of a larger group of Democratic candidates contesting more races in 2018 than in recent memory, including every one of Texas’s 36 congressional seats. Two of those candidates, Colin Allred and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, defeated two veteran GOP incumbents, Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas and Rep. John Abney Culberson of Houston, respectively. Two other congressional candidates ran strong races and narrowly lost to Republican incumbents. These Democratic campaigns departed from the 21st century norm by being both well-funded and well-executed.

I think it’s a pretty fair bet that Beto will be running in 2020. Though I’m not going to predict the office.

Kristallnacht

This Friday saw the anniversary of this dark day in history.

Joshua Shanes on Kristallnacht, Pittsburgh, and Donald Trump.
Washington Post

Today we commemorate Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” a pogrom against Jews throughout Germany and Austria in 1938 that signified a sharpening of Nazi persecution. Mobs destroyed or vandalized hundreds of synagogues, as well as thousands of Jewish homes, schools, businesses and cemeteries. Nearly 100 Jews were murdered, and more than 30,000 Jewish men were put in concentration camps. The move toward the “Final Solution” — the effort to murder every last Jew — would follow just a few years later.

Kristallnacht was not an aberration. It was the culmination of decades of anti-Semitic politics and agitation, mostly expressed and exploited by men who never intended to act on it.

And therein lies the lesson for today.

As anti-Semitic attacks surge in the United States, the media has puzzled over President Trump’s responsibility. Many have concluded that as grandfather to Jewish grandchildren, he could not possibly be anti-Semitic. But what Trump feels in his heart is far less important than what he says and does. And this, too, has historical precedent.

It’s not fair to this piece to try and get it across in excerpts. Go read it.

Rebecca Kobrin on the same grim topic.
Washington Post

Kristallnacht may seem like an event in the distant past with little relevance to the United States today, but anti-Semitism, nativism and anti-immigration sentiments in the United States abound. In fact, this week, the Trump administration initiated a new restriction on asylum claims. To be sure, President Trump condemned the mass-shooting rampage at Tree of Life synagogue two weeks ago. But his continued deployment of anti-Semitic tropes, such as the specious claim that George Soros is funding the Central American immigrant caravan and his abolishing of asylum for people coming from the southern hemisphere shows how the lessons of Kristallnacht still need to be made clear.

And read this one.

Trump and Journalism

Leonard Pitts on Trump’s disrespect for the press.
Miami Herald

First, CNN reporter Jim Acosta tried —Trump kept interrupting him — to ask about the propriety of designating a caravan of refugees an “invasion.” But the rude president called Acosta rude for the questions he asked. Of course, the questions were tough, but entirely fair.

Then PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor tried — Trump interrupted her, too — to ask whether he emboldened white supremacists by declaring himself a nationalist. But the racist president chided her for “such a racist question.” Her question, too, was fair.

The man doesn’t seem to know — more likely, simply doesn’t care — that this is What Journalists Do. They ask questions, questions that are sometimes tough, pointed and skeptical. That’s how truth is learned. That’s how the people’s right to know is served.

… Trump is hardly the first chief executive to disdain reporters. But the vast majority of his predecessors nevertheless endured journalistic scrutiny with the understanding, as George W. Bush once put it, that news media are “indispensable to democracy.”

“I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive,” Bush said, “and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

April Ryan on Trump’s relationship to one particular type of journalist.
Washington Post

Wednesday, when PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor asked President Trump if his campaign rhetoric was “emboldening white nationalists,” the president (who has, in recent weeks, railed against “power-hungry globalists,” a distant immigrant “caravan,” and called African American Tallahassee mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a “stone-cold thief”) tried to turn the tables by saying: “That’s such a racist question.”

Friday, when CNN’s Abby Phillip asked Trump if he wanted newly designated acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to “rein in” special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump tried to dismiss her by saying: “What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions.” Wednesday at the White House, he told me to “sit down.” In Friday’s press gaggle, he called me “nasty” and a “loser,” never mind my 21 years spent covering four presidents as a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks.

It’s not hard to find the common denominator: Though there’s hardly anyone — from his predecessors to senators in his own party — he won’t try to shout down with ad hominem insults, Trump relishes, and injects venom into, verbal attacks against women of color.

To be fair, there’s little doubt that Trump is a racist asshole and dismissive bully to people of color in other situations. Michael Cohen recently gave a long list of Trump’s racist statements, and it’s far from the first such list. But it’s when he’s interacting with women journalists of color that we see Trump most clearly.

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