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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Biden’s speech makes waves

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Tim Miller/Bulwark:

Memo to Dems: Call The GOP’s “Populist” Bluff

One party is passing legislation to help working-class voters. The other party is voting against it.

As Carville says:

Here’s the deal: No matter how you look at the map, the only way Democrats can hold power is to build on their coalition, and that will have to include more rural white voters from across the country. Democrats are never going to win a majority of these voters. That’s the reality. But the difference between getting beat 80 to 20 and 72 to 28 is all the difference in the world.

The last sentence is the key. He’s not suggesting Democrats try to dominate rural America. But he recognizes that, as a matter of national political survival, Democrats must claw back part of their old coalition.

His advice for doing it:

  • Get Democratic politicians to talk like normal humans and not panelists at an Amherst conference on gendered labor in remigration.
  • Do to the insane House Republican caucus what the GOP did with the Squad.
  • Improve the branding around liberal priorities and the Biden agenda.

I concur on all three, but I’d like to revise and extend the third item. Because Democrats don’t just need to do a better job branding the benefits of the Biden agenda.

They need to make the “working class” Republican party pay for opposing them

John Harris/Politico:

Biden Just Gave the Most Ideologically Ambitious Speech of Any Democratic President in Generations

With his vow to spend money on blue-collar jobs and tax the rich, Biden’s program aims to splinter the Trump Coalition.

President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session Congress was the most ambitious ideological statement made by any Democratic president in decades—couched in language that made it sound as if he wasn’t making an ideological argument at all.

Make no mistake that he was. He called for trillions in new spending in a robust expansion of government’s role in multiple arenas of American life in ways that would have been impossible to contemplate in Barack Obama’s presidency. He plunged into subjects—racial and class inequities, immigration, gun violence—that were rubbed raw until bleeding in Donald Trump’s.

Peter Hotez/Nature:

COVID vaccines: time to confront anti-vax aggression

Halting the spread of the coronavirus will require a high-level counteroffensive against new destructive forces.

Nearly one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in less than six months, but anti-vaccine disinformation and targeted attacks on scientists are undermining progress. These threats must be confronted directly, and the authority and expertise of the health community alone aren’t enough to do this.

Even before the pandemic, I had a front-row seat to all of this. I have co-led efforts to develop vaccines in programmes, including a COVID-19 vaccine currently being tested in India. I also have an adult daughter with autism; my 2018 book, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism, became a dog whistle for anti-vaccine activists.


Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

Tucker Carlson’s latest idiocy on masks is dangerous and hypocritical even by his usual standards

Megan Ranney, associate professor of emergency medicine and public health at Brown University, made the case for continued mask-wearing in an article on NBC News’s digital site this month. “The pandemic has unequivocally proven the public health value of masks,” she wrote, while admitting that, like others, she was wrong early last year when she said that public mask-wearing wasn’t necessary.

There are legitimate questions now about the continued value of wearing masks outdoors, but what’s happening on Carlson’s show isn’t any sort of reasoned discussion about that.

“It’s part of a full-on, aggressive assault against science and scientists” on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, said Peter Hotez, author of “Preventing the Next Pandemic” and dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Tropical Medicine. He has made a point of being interviewed by those outlets when asked — but the invitations from Newsmax and Fox have tailed off in recent weeks, and host Laura Ingraham went after him by name recently.

Jonathan Chait/New York:

Biden’s Two-Part Economic Strategy Was Years in the Making

But Biden ran openly on all the policies he is trying to pass now, and all of them are extremely popular. Voters support the child tax credit by a margin of over 30 points, free pre-K by more than 40 points, and paid family and medical leave by more than 50 points.

Sure, all those generous social benefits probably sound nice in theory, but what about the trade-offs? Well, the trade-off is that, to be made permanent through the Senate rules, they have to be paid for. But Biden is paying for them by raising taxes on extremely rich people. Not only are those measures popular, they are more popular than the spending itself.


David Rothkopf/USA Today:

De-Trumpifying America will take Biden longer than 100 days, but he’s off to a good start

During Biden’s first 100 days in office, the spotlight has rightly been focused on the remarkable list of substantive accomplishments racked up by the new president and his team.

The scope and impact of their de-Trumpification of the government certainly deserves a place on that list given the former president’s toxicity and the active danger he posed to American democracy, our institutions, our well-being and our standing in the world.

That said, for all they have achieved, much of the work of de-Trumpification remains.

No one should make the mistake of thinking that just because the man is out of office, the dangers associated with him are fully behind us.


Zeynep Tufekci/Atlantic:

The CDC Is Still Repeating Its Mistakes

The agency’s new guidelines are too timid and too complicated.

Confused? You’re not alone. The guidelines got Linsey Marr, a professor at Virginia Tech and a leading expert on viral transmission, to remark that even she can’t remember all of this. “I would have to carry around a sheet of paper—a cheat sheet with all these different stipulations,” she said in an interview after the announcement.

And despite all the detail, social media was flooded with questions from people who couldn’t figure out what they should do in different settings. What happens if they live with someone who is not vaccinated or has medical issues? What counts as a crowd? How small is a “small, outdoor gathering”? Why are unvaccinated people “safest” at a small outdoor gathering but not at an outdoor restaurant? And why is a crowd a threat to the vaccinated? What does the color coding for unvaccinated people indoors mean exactly, since they are advised to wear masks at all times? The CDC should, at the very least, explain the scientific reasoning behind these rules. Not only would this empower people; it would inform the inevitable debate about the guidelines.


EJ Dionne/WaPo:

Biden’s speech was bipartisan and partisan at the same time

Since Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Democrats have been attacked for forgetting their working-class past and becoming a party dominated by educated elites. Much of the GOP’s populism may be phony, but the attacks stung.

Biden, ever ready to cite his childhood in blue-collar Scranton, Pa., signaled again that he would have none of it, pitching his policies as designed to lift up not the credentialed elite but those who “feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that’s rapidly changing.” He departed from prepared text to observe that these were “so many of the folks I grew up with.”…

Calling his American Jobs Plan “a blue-collar blueprint to build America,” he noted that nearly 90 percent of its infrastructure jobs “do not require a college degree” and that “75 percent don’t require an associate’s degree.”

And in a deft bit of political jujitsu, he touted his proposed investments in alternative energy to fight climate change as a form of economic nationalism. “There’s no reason the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. . . . No reason why American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.”

Yet Biden and his lieutenants were thinking of not just the past four years but the four decades since the rise of Ronald Reagan. Behind almost every move and argument he outlined was a desire to avoid repeating the errors and miscalculations of his party’s past.

And, of course, there’s the ongoing schadenfreude:


Kimberle Wehle/Bulwark:

Takeaways from the FBI’s Giuliani Raids

His Ukraine machinations are finally getting serious scrutiny, after Trump’s DOJ reportedly stalled the investigation.

Predictably, Giuliani’s legal team decried the warrants as “legal thuggery,” glossing over the fact that they were authorized by a federal judge and thus reflect a conclusion that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that items connected to the crime were likely to be found in Giuliani’s home and office. Given Giuliani’s attorney status and connection to a former president, the decision to pursue such a warrant was no doubt vetted at the highest levels of DOJ.


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