Make Boring Politics Again – The Atlantic

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Joe Biden promised voters that they wouldn’t have to constantly think about politics all the time. That didn’t work out for them, or him.

But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.

More: Scroll down to read Imani Perry’s picks from the newly launched Atlantic archive.

Almost unconvincing

Sometimes, political strategists and scholars talk about trying to win the news cycle. These days, the question is less of whether Joe Biden will win in a news cycle than what kind of defeat he will suffer. The president’s struggles come from a variety of causes — inflation, foreign war, the long -term effects of COVID, a conservative judiciary, and sloppy messaging — but one way I think about them is this: Not done Biden to deliver the boring America he promised when he ran for president.

Biden’s pitch in 2020 will bring him back to normal. For him, Donald Trump’s presidency was an aberration, a vision that set him apart from his Democratic rivals who saw Trump as the culmination of a long stream in American society and Republican politics. But for an electorate tired of the roller coaster of the Trump years and after COVID, Biden’s assurance that politics can be boring again is pretty enticing.

No matter how hard it is to be interesting, it’s harder to deliver dull. Former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan allegedly joked that the hardest part of his job was “events.” Biden was certainly empathetic. The Supreme Court decision last month was overturned Roe against Wade deprived of Americans what many consider a fundamental right. This, too, for the White House, is a political migraine. The decision was the product of a Court full of conservative magistrates before Biden was elected. The White House can’t stop the decision, nor does the president have many (if any) good options to push back.

And yet Biden seems to have done the worst in a bad situation. His lead attorney was somehow surprised at the timing of the decision, according to CNN — a claim that might seem hard to believe if not for the lack of any unified response from the White House. The administration seemed completely reactive, announcing, for example, that declaring a health emergency was not a “good option,” before it was abruptly reconsidered.

Over the weekend, Biden’s outgoing communications director slammed “activists who continue to move away from the Democratic Party’s mainstream,” a strange place to train his fire. Perhaps he is trying to recapture the magic of the campaign in 2020, when Biden was opposed to progressive “Defund the police” activists but sided with the voters. In this case, however, voter sentiment is clearly in favor of some access to abortion, and not just Democrats.

This inconsistency had its damage. As Ed Kilgore wrote IntelligencerBiden now has a lower vote than Trump at the same point in his presidency. The New York Times seems to run a big step back story about Biden’s aging on an almost monthly basis. Today brought the poll finding that nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters Wants to see other people as party nominees in 2024.

Perhaps this negative reaction to Biden was unfair. Despite having narrow control over Congress, Democrats have passed blockbuster legislation, such as a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a major COVID relief package, even though they erred in promising a Build Back Better plan that they did not pass. . Experts have widely praised Biden’s handling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Last week’s unemployment report exceeded expectations. The price of gas is falling. Some of the other problems, including inflation and COVID, are largely out of his control.

However, that is not what voters want to hear. They voted for Biden because he offered assurance, and now he is struggling because… he can’t offer assurance. Writing this newsletter almost a month ago, my colleague Tom Nichols pleaded with voters to leave Joe Biden. The problem is they also want to be alone, without having to worry about the cost of filling their tank or whether they will get basic health care if they are pregnant. However, politics, or reality, keeps coming in.


Today’s news
  1. After rejecting a congressional subpoena, Steve Bannon claimed he was ready to testify before the House committee on Jan. 6.
  2. The death toll in Russia’s strike on Saturday in a Ukrainian apartment block in Donetsk’s Chasiv Yar town has risen to 31.
  3. This afternoon, the White House previewed the first image captured by the largest galaxy telescope in history.


The Atlantic Archive: Race, Roots, and Hope
Photo illustration with issue in November 1857
(The Atlantic)

now, The Atlantic makes all 165 years of its journalism available online. Read Editor’s note by Jeffrey Goldberg about new archiveexplore The Atlantic Writers Projector continue below for a take on four of the writer’s stories Unstable Territorya newsletter of the “American rootwork.”

When I was a teenager living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I often walked to the home of abolitionist and Union official Thomas Wentworth Higginson. I remember Ida B. Wells might have visited Higginson there, and romantically imagined myself in her footsteps, walking down Buckingham Street. So it became particularly exciting to find the abolitionists Higginson wrote in Atlantic archive.

In this essay from the June 1861 issue, he recounts the insurrection led by Denmark Vesey in South Carolina about 40 years before. He was not as brutally outspoken about racism as Wells, but Higginson’s recognition of the nobility of self-liberation was significant, especially at the dawn of the Civil War.

Two other writings from the archive that aroused my interest both came from the September 1859 issue. The first was a description of the trio’s visit to Martha’s Vineyard, before the island became associated with the elite resort glamor that characterizes it today. The migration of the Gay Head tribe, the impact of the whaling industry on the island’s ecology, and the local language and culture of New England are clearly demonstrated. If you are familiar with the scenery, the description of the geography and beauty of the Vineyard will be completely familiar. But this story tells something about the root of the area and how it has become this treasured enclave today.

The other article from that issue is another account set in today’s popular tourist destination: Savannah, Georgia. In particular, it is a complimentary review of a pamphlet by the American Anti-Slavery Society about an event known historically as “the weeping time,” the largest slave auction in U.S. history. As the pamphlet revealed, a Philadelphian held the auction — a powerful reminder that although antebellum slavery was centered in the South, its beneficiaries were nationwide elites.

Finally, this article in 1954, published two months after Brown against the Board of education decision, provides authoritative, if brief, history of school separation. But what strikes me about it is author Arthur E. Sutherland’s hope for desegregation — a hope that was soon shattered by widespread opposition and the anemic “all deliberate speed.” command of the second. brown opinion. Now, of course, though brown Not seemingly immediately under threat, the ideology of white supremacy subject to legal separation is on the rise. After nearly 60 years, it is harder to get hope.

Faith Perry

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break
cartoon illustration of a slushie with a straw, with a question mark on the cup, and a rotating pattern in the background
(The Atlantic)

Read. “Luck,” a new poem by Carl Dennis: “There is no way to explain in a car, always waiting / Where you leave it, the human ability / To remove the mind from the body / When the body needs . of guidance. ”

Watch. Saw already Top gun and in the mood for more explosive action? Watch Already Vu (available at Disney+ and rent on Amazon Prime), a thriller directed by Tony Scott in 2006 with Denzel Washington that became a “kind of high-tech Vertigo. ”

Or try others from our writer’s list of 26 brilliant films that critics are wrong about.

drink. It’s Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven. What the hell is a slushie, anyway? Find out here.

Play our daily crossword.


A fun to fill here this week, especially since it gives me a chance to celebrate the hottest team in baseball. I’m always looking for solace in Tom Scocca’s paean to the 2011 Baltimore Orioles, who last finished in the AL East but broke the playoff hopes of the hated Red Sox on the final day of the season. Scocca said how important rooting is for a bad team. The O’s will almost certainly end up in the basement again this year, but they’ve won eight games in a row, and they’re guaranteed not to lose tonight, as it’s a non-working day. Here are the small successes — or better yet, eight of them.

– David

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.