In a debate filled with barbs, put-downs, interruptions, and insults, Donald Trump didn’t separate himself from the rest of the field by being more combative or more outrageous—although at moments, he was clearly trying. Trump, instead, set himself apart by delivering a ringing defense of the “New York values” that Senator Ted Cruz accused him of embodying. “New York is a great place,” he said. “It's got great people, it's got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.” His tone turned somber:
And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death—nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.
It was Trump’s best moment of the campaign: a stirring tribute to a cosmopolitan city, and an invocation of national unity, beating back a crude attempt to divide Americans against each other.
What preceded it was less inspiring. Trump stood by his contention that Ted Cruz may not be a “native-born citizen,” and therefore may be ineligible for the presidency. Cruz hotly disputed that, and the weight of the scholarly consensus is firmly on his side. It was vintage Trump: blustering, insinuating, and flat-out fabricating. And it helped make the defense of New York that followed seem even more unusual.
That exchange also stood out because so much of the other drama on the stage Thursday night seemed so familiar. Ben Carson affably flubbed his foreign-policy questions; John Kasich emphasized his record in Ohio and tried to look more serious than his rivals; Jeb Bush delivered solid points in a style that robbed them of most of their impact; Chris Christie talked up his record as a prosecutor while brazenly denying other things he’s done; and Cruz sparred repeatedly with Marco Rubio.
With just a few weeks left before Iowa voters head to the caucuses, almost all of the candidates came to North Charleston, South Carolina, looking to shake things up. For the most part, that failed to happen.
But Ted Cruz, who’s clinging to a narrow lead in Iowa, didn’t just take hits from Trump. The fiercest attack of the night came from Rubio, who rattled off a detailed list of specific stands on which he accused the Texas senator of reversing himself, branding him a cynical opportunist, not a consistent conservative. “I appreciate your dumping your oppo-research folder on the debate stage,” Cruz smirked.
“No, it’s your record,” Rubio shot back.
The debate also featured a war over trade wars. Trump was pressed to defend past comments supportive of slapping retaliatory tariffs on Chinese imports. Instead of backing away from tariffs, he stressed the need for a firm response to the rising power. Economists across the country held their heads, and his rivals gleefully pounced. But as they took turns explaining the economic theory of why tariffs ultimately hurt consumers, Trump simply insisted that he’d be tough enough to make the Chinese crumble. By Friday, there will likely be dozens of columns explaining the downsides of tariffs; whether any of them will dissuade Trump supporters from believing that he alone has the resolve to right America’s trade deficit with China is another matter entirely.
It’s equally fair to wonder whether any of these performances will alter the trajectory of the race. Trump was closing in on Cruz in Iowa even before the debate, and riding high in the national polls. Marco Rubio turned in another superb performance on the stage, but his past skill as a debater has never brought him the surge of support that he needs to challenge the frontrunners. Ben Carson’s fading campaign will continue to fade. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich are still jockeying for establishment support.
One thing that was different on Thursday night was the audience, generously salted with members of the Republican National Committee, in town for their winter meeting. The presence of the literal Republican establishment didn’t restrain candidates from touting their outsider credentials. But it did reflect the tensions roiling the party, as parts of the crowd cheered loudly for Trump, as others booed.
But if RNC Chair Reince Preibus was worried, he didn’t let it show. “It’s clear we’ve got the most well-qualified and diverse field of candidates from any party in history,” he tweeted afterwards. The field may be yuuge, but the candidates are the best. The head of the Republican establishment adopting the argot of Trump seemed a perfect end to the night.
I'll be curious to see how GOP voters react to Ted Cruz's performance. Even though the constitutional law is on his side, I thought his assertion that even Trump wouldn't be eligible for the president came off as too-clever-by-half. Trump's shutdown of the Texas senator on the "New York values" quip might've been his strongest punch yet in the debates. And Cruz also didn't respond very strongly to the 95 theses that Rubio nailed to his door—replying that only half of them were false. Will all this cut into Cruz's lead in Iowa? We'll find out soon.
As I saw it, the three leading candidates—Trump, Cruz, and Rubio—all had their moments during a debate that stretched nearly 2 and a half hours. Cruz excelled in the first half and 'won' his fight with Trump over his eligibility. Trump had a good moment invoking 9/11 to defend his "New York values" against Cruz's attack. And toward the end of the night, Rubio unleashed a well-executed attack on Cruz's flip-flopping over immigration. That said, it's unclear that any of those moments will change the dynamic of the race. Bush, Carson, Kasich, and Christie didn't make much of an impression, and they were lagging in most polls as it is. Nor was there much of a substantive debate over policy, unlike some of the previous Republican debates.
My closing thoughts will be brief tonight, because I have no idea how Republican voters will respond to that display. But I will say this: Ben Carson just isn’t going to win. There’s no chance. And even beyond him this field needs to be winnowed.
Trump: "I stood yesterday with 75 construction workers. They're tough they're strong they're great people." They had tears running down their faces because of the humiliation by Iran. "It was a terrible sight, a terrible sight. ... If I'm president there won't be stupid deals anymore. We will win on everything we do."
Cruz: Benghazi, betrayal, a commander-in-chief who won't say radical Islamic terrorism. "I want to speak to all of those maddened by political correctness. ... this will end." If I'm elected, soldiers and policemen, I will have your back.
Rubio: Our rights come from God. Free enterprise. Individual liberty. The American miracle. But this country is changing. We're being left behind and left out because we elected a president who wants to change America and make it more like the rest of the world. "That's why 2016 is the turning point in our history."
Chris Christie says he loves this country. If not for the flag lapel pin on his suit I wouldn’t be sure if he was telling the truth. But with that piece of political flare proudly displayed on his very clothing who can doubt him?
Christie: Obama lives in a fantasyland. This country is not respected. Taxpayers are being pushed backwards, and the president doesn't understand. "We need a fighter for this country again … fighting for justice and to protect people from crime and terrorism ... someone who will fight Hillary Clinton."
Bush: "Who can you count on to keep you safer, stronger, and freer?" I got results in Florida. I have a plan. I am a candidate of substance. "I ask for your support to build together a safer and stronger America."
We’re one corporate deal away from debate questions like, “According to data from McDonald’s, home of the McFlurry, American families have less to spend on discretionary items, like golden French fries or savory McRibs, than they have in a generation…"
"The entire system of legal immigration must now be re-examined," says Rubio, who's still trying to shake off the ghost his 2013 immigration proposal, which was widely unpopular with conservatives and has provided some good fodder for his opponents this cycle.
John Kasich now channeling South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is in the audience tonight. Haley called for unity in her GOP response to the State of the Union, saying: "When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference." Kasich echoes that with his own call for unity: "As president of the United States, it's all about communication, folks, it's all about getting people to listen to one another's problems. When you do that you will be amazed at how much progress you can make, and how much healing we can have."
Rubio tries to explain his shift away from the 2013 Senate Gang of Eight bill by saying that immigration is now a security issue, not a jobs issue. But it ignores the fact that after 9/11, and even before that, security was a big part of the concern about liberal immigration policy.
True to form, the Republican candidates lose all skepticism of government employees as soon as they’re given a badge and a gun, whereupon they become the salt of the earth, bereft of bad actors, and deserving of the benefit of every doubt. But transfer one of those police officers to the IRS…
"This is a guy who just believes that law enforcement are the bad guys," Christie says of the president, before launching into an attack on so-called sanctuary cities. "This president allows lawlessness throughout this country."
Christie adds a new twist to the Ferguson effect by attributing a purported national rise in crime not to Black Lives Matter protesters, but to Obama's two attorneys general and the Obama administration overall.
Here’s a line from the Lincoln-Douglas debates that one of the candidates can draw on this evening: "MY FELLOW-CITIZENS: When a man hears himself somewhat misrepresented, it provokes him-at least, I find it so with myself; but when misrepresentation becomes very gross and palpable, it is more apt to amuse him.” If Jeb Bush said that I think I would find him a lot less affected.
“We have seniors out there who are scared to death, because…” Chris Christie begins, but fails to complete the sentence correctly–– “…because they are spending too much time watching alarmist cable news."
"It's not the evil rich people, it's the evil government," Carson says, in an effort to draw a contrast between the worldview of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and his own. It's an interesting way to sum up the left-right split this primary season.
Chris Christie endorsed corporate tax repatriation—bringing back money from overseas in exchange for a one-time tax break—as a way to pay for infrastructure, which is an idea that's gained some traction in Congress. The problem, according to infrastructure advocates, is that it isn't a longterm solution but a one-time fix.
Attacking the president's executive actions has been a favorite line of criticism from Republican candidate's tonight. Marco Rubio says he would go after the Environmental Protection Agency, except in his telling EPA really stands for "Employment Prevention Agency." The candidates aren't talking about climate change during this debate, but Rubio's promise to take down EPA is a veiled threat against the president's climate agenda, given that most of what the administration has achieved so far in curbing greenhouse gas emissions has come as a result of EPA regulations.
There was a trade war over trade wars on stage just now. Trump understands trade, but he also understands audiences—and he’s unrelenting in his attacks on China, and the need to take a harder line. Other candidates—Kasich, Rubio, Bush, Cruz—try hard to deliver textbook explanations of the dangers of tariffs. But for Trump, this is all about showing toughness toward a rising China. And he seems to carry a large chunk of the crowd with him.
It seems like what Donald Trump wants, more than anything else, is to negotiate with China and other foreign nations. If offered a hypothetical “Negotiator-in-Chief” job I wonder if he’d gladly drop out of the presidential race and do that, provided that he was allowed to record, edit, and televise the sessions on NBC at his discretion.
The candidates are asked where they stand on admitting Syrian refugees to the U.S. Kasich says he would pause the program, and Christie stands by his comments that the U.S. should not take any Syrian refugees. The U.S. is expected to take in 10,000 refugees, far less than Canada and some European nations.
Ted Cruz reiterates his proposal to revoke the citizenship of Americans who travel overseas to fight ISIS, which runs counter to past Supreme Court rulings that bar Congress from involuntarily denaturalizing American citizens.
Ted Cruz declares that President Obama "acts as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.” I’m not sure that “pants on fire” is strong enough to convey the brazenness of the lie. Can we add a new category? Brooks Brothers on barbecue? Necktie on Napalm?
"We have to find out what's going on," Trump says when asked about his calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He likes to repeat that line when asked about foreign policy and the threat of terrorism. It's such a vague promise, yet so far it has resonated with an electorate gripped by fear over the possibility of more terrorist attacks.
I wondered whether police killings would come up in tonight’s debate, which is being held in North Charleston, where the officer who shot and killed Walter Scott faces murder charges. Trump just declared, “The police are the most mistreated people in this country.” I suppose that counts.
Jeb Bush points out that Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims coming to the United States would weaken our hand with allies and prevent fighters helping us with ISIS from coming here. I’m surprised no one has instead talked about the Muslim translators who helped American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are in danger of being killed for helping us if not allowed to claim political asylum here.
Jeb Bush calls Trump’s comments unhinged, and draws applause from the crowd, too. This crowd may tip toward the establishment, but there are enough Trump supporters tonight for its divided responses to mirror the party’s broader splits.
When Donald Trump takes a long, detailed question, and answers with a flat, “No,” it draws cheers every time. In this case, he’s asked whether he wants to reverse his proposal for banning Muslims from entering the United States. There have been boos from this crowd tonight, but it’s hushed as he refuses to back away from bigotry, and cheers when he’s finished.
The moderator just presumed that the right thing to do is removing Assad from power––but Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and perhaps others on that stage disagree, and believe the U.S. should focus on fighting ISIS in cooperation with Russia.
A clever question, praising Lindsey Graham in front of a hometown crowd, and then inviting Ben Carson to disagree with his plan to send 20,000 troops to fight ISIS. But it produces the usual results, with Carson offering a rambling string of vague generalizations in lieu of foreign-policy specifics.
Donald Trump’s defense of New York values may be the most skillful invocation of 9/11 on a Republican debate stage, which is saying something, since there’s nothing GOP primary candidates like to invoke more.
Trump, pressed to defend New York, falls back on 9/11. Usually, when the attacks are invoked in these debates, it’s a cheap trick. But tonight, it’s Trump’s finest moment. He reminds the audience of a moment when all Americans felt a deep solidarity with the people of his city.
Cruz is asked what he means when he accuses Trump of holding New York values. “I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” says Cruz. It’s a remarkable spectacle—a candidate for president implying that being a citizen of its largest city is somehow un-American.
Marco Rubio suggests that more people are going out and buying guns under the Obama presidency because they're afraid that the president wants to take guns away. He's not wrong. When Americans fear the government may be on the verge of confiscating guns, they rush to buy more. The latest example of that came earlier this month. Gun sales rose dramatically after the president announced executive actions aimed at expanding background checks.
The stress on the vital importance of mental-health care is a welcome development; Trump is absolutely right that states have shifted resources away from treatment in the past several decades. But better mental-health care is unlikely to curb gun violence, because very little of it is committed by the mentally ill. There’s a basic disconnect between these answers and the data.
Carson gets asked whether he thinks Hillary Clinton is an enabler of sexual misconduct because of husband Bill. He pivots to rhetorical questions about how mad everyone in the country is. "Here's the real issue: is this America anymore? Do we still have standards? Do we still have values and principles? ... We need to start once again recognizing that there is such a thing as right and wrong."
Christie claims he never supported Sotomayor or wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. Both of those claims are pretty easily debunked. But he talked about donating to Planned Parenthood in 1994; and here he is supporting Sotomayor's nomination.
And just like that, a question on Bernie Sanders. Kasich says that if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, Republicans will "win every state." But polls show that Sanders actually outperforms Clinton and is defeating Republican candidates handily.
Rubio goes after Christie for his since-vanished support for Common Core and some donations he made to Planned Parenthood. Christie shoots back. "Two years ago, he called me a conservative reformer that New Jersey needed," Christie says of Cruz. "That was before he was running against me.”
I’m not a fan of these last three questions. There’s no need to adjudicate the birther nonsense on the debate stage. And who cares if Nikki Haley appeared to take sides in a State of the Union response, or whether Donald Trump is angry? Who cares if Chris Christie is saying Marco Rubio is slimy? These are all issues that can be dealt with in the course of everyday campaigning. If Fox Business moderators are going to inject conflict into the debate, it should be in service of forcing the candidates to articulate important differences that they wouldn’t otherwise address, or that are particularly important for the American people to hear about more.
The audience here in Charleston is pretty rough on Trump, booing and jeering him. That might be because of the fact that many debate attendees are Republican National Committee members here for the winter meeting that's being held concurrently.
The camera pans to South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as Trump is asked to respond to her GOP response to the State of the Union, which called on the public not to give in to angry and divisive rhetoric. Trump seems unwilling to go in for an attack. "First of all Nikki said I'm a friend of hers," Trump starts. "We're friends, that's good." He continues on to say he's "very angry" because "our country is being run horribly.”
Is Cruz eligible to be president? Earlier today, we published a detailed legal memorandum written by Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black's Law Review, and a distinguished research professor of law at Southern Methodist University. It’s the most thorough exploration of the legal questions I’ve seen—and tries to put the matter to rest once and for all. You can read it for yourself.
Donald Trump was a birther in the original sense—that is, he professed that he doubted President Obama’s gift certificate. The GOP electorate has made him the frontrunner anyway. So it’s interesting to see Trump get booed in this debate for raising the issue with respect to Ted Cruz. The most ingenious part of Ted Cruz’s response was to highlight that he believes missionaries born abroad would be eligible to be president of the United States. The most fascinating part of the exchange is watching Trump deal with being booed during his response.
This is really the first time we've seen Trump and Cruz spar on a primary debate stage. During the last debate, the candidate's relationship seemed to have started to fray and there was plenty of speculation that there might be a fight, but that fizzled. Now, however, the two candidates seem ready to really go after each other.
Cruz notes that some who’ve weighed in have gone so far as to suggest that both parents of a candidate would need to be born on American soil; Trump’s mother was born in Scotland. “On the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you. You’re an American, as is everyone else on this stage.”
Cruz gets asked about his undisclosed $750,000 loan from Goldman Sachs used to finance his election to the Senate. “Thank you for passing on that hit-piece on the front page of The New York Times,” he says. This has been a favorite tactic of Cruz’s, pivoting from the specifics of any charge he faces to attack the establishment. “Yes, I made a paperwork error, disclosing it on one piece of paper instead of the other,” he says. That’s not going to cut it. Elections experts have called it a clear violation of the rules, of the sort that’s generally sanctioned.
When Ben Carson got a question on foreign policy, he went off on a bit of a tangent. He rattled off a laundry list of threats that seems designed to show that the candidate has studied up. Hard to imagine, however, that Carson didn't lose the audience when he said that "we have enemies who are obtaining nuclear weapons that they can explode in our exo-atmosphere."
Ted Cruz has just become the first presidential candidate to highlight the fact that his critics compare him to a demonic spirit––this by way of the now familiar “the media is awful” sidestep, where GOP candidates turn any attack on them into a referendum on the media. This invariably draws applause from folks in the room at debates. I wonder how it plays with the folks at home.
Jeb Bush says that America should not be the world’s policemen. But in most every instance of controversy over whether the U.S. should deploy troops to police the behavior of other nations he favors military intervention. He doesn’t merely want the U.S. to be the world’s policeman. He wants it to be stop-and-frisk policing.
Jeb Bush goes for the jugular, attacking Hillary Clinton who he says "would be a national security mess,” adding that if she’s elected, “She might be going back and forth between the White House and the Courthouse”.
Chris Christie says that in his administration, “tin-pot mullahs” would know better than to seize American craft. In 2001, early in the administration of George W. Bush, China held 24 American airmen for 11 days, until Bush apologized. Compared to that, the prompt return of the unharmed sailors looks less like a humiliation than a triumph.
Chris Christie says that if he is the Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton won't get "within 10 miles of the White House." Fact check: Clinton owns a home in northwest D.C. which is definitely within 10 miles of the White House, so that will be a tough promise to keep.
Ted Cruz implies that if Americans are captured during his tenure, he would go to war rather than allow them to be photographed on their knees. Beyond a needless war, the result would likely be the deaths of the hypothetical prisoners. No president in history has ever behaved in the way Cruz suggests, because it is bellicose nonsense.
Politico had an interesting interview with Ted Cruz about his debate strategy, in which he admitted that he deliberately does not answer the moderator's question right away so that he can ultimately have more speaking time. He demonstrated that right off the bat, answering a question on the economy by talking about Iran's detaining of 10 U.S. Navy sailors.
Wondering where Rand Paul is? The Kentucky senator didn't qualify for tonight's primetime debate, and refused to take part in the less prestigious "happy hour" debate that wrapped earlier in the evening. Not surprisingly, the candidate will still try to make his voice heard. According to his campaign, Paul will be taking to Twitter when the debate starts to react to his rivals on the main stage.
Greetings from Charleston, where I just watched the undercard debate so you don't have to. It featured Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee—Rand Paul also qualified, but declared it beneath his dignity to participate. All three candidates had an edge of desperation as they struggled to insist they're relevant despite voters' clear lack of interest in what any of them is selling. Fiorina focused on contrasting herself with Hillary Clinton; Huckabee and Santorum both styled themselves as champions of working people. Santorum was even shoutier than usual, which is saying something. Without Lindsey Graham to crack jokes, the undercard was painfully short on entertainment value—the best line of the night was probably Santorum saying he'd take Paul's time. In short, if you missed it, you didn't miss much.
The last time the Republicans debated, nine candidates took the stage, Ben Carson was a leading contender, and George Pataki’s run for office seemed all but over. Now seven are left, Carson is an afterthought, and Pataki’s candidacy is finally over.
After a wild 12 months, the unpredictable 2016 presidential race has finally entered 2016, and it’s starting to settle down. Donald Trump sits atop the polls, with Ted Cruz a clear second. In Iowa, where voters will caucus on February 1, those roles are reversed—although Trump has lately been closing the gap. A host of establishment candidates are jostling for position behind them, waiting to shoot ahead if they stumble. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie are hoping to survive long enough to exploit any such opportunities.
As my colleague Russell Berman writes, one shift is that the long-simmering tensions between Trump and Cruz are finally out in the open. Trump has suggested that Cruz’s birth in Canada renders him ineligible to be president, while Cruz has attacked Trump’s “New York values,” which he declined to define other than to say that “they're not Iowa values and they're not New Hampshire values.” Whether that conflict will carry over to the debate stage, or whether they’d prefer to trade punches at a safe remove, remains to be seen.
Ben Carson’s once high-flying campaign is locked in a tailspin, from which it seems unlikely to emerge. The other four candidates are left to decide whether to set themselves apart by punching up at the frontrunners, by trying to take down each other, or by aiming to rise above the squabbling on stage.
The debate is being held in the Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in North Charleston, South Carolina. The city came to national attention last April, when Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in the back as he fled, killing him. Slager, charged with murder, was released on bond last week. Ten miles away sits Emanuel A.M.E. Church. In June, Dylann Roof was welcomed to a prayer service there, sat for an hour, and then shot and killed nine. And on Tuesday night, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley used her rebuttal to the State of the Union address to remember what happened next:
We didn't turn against each other's race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.
The debate over the use of force by police, the question of gun violence, and the challenges of pluralism have not received much attention in the Republican debates to this point. But one reason the parties now have four early states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—is to ensure that issues of regional and local salience make their presence felt on the campaign trail. That will be the case tonight, whether these questions take center stage, or become conspicuous by their absence.
It happened gradually—and until the U.S. figures out how to treat the problem, it will only get worse.
It’s 2020, four years from now. The campaign is under way to succeed the president, who is retiring after a single wretched term. Voters are angrier than ever—at politicians, at compromisers, at the establishment. Congress and the White House seem incapable of working together on anything, even when their interests align. With lawmaking at a standstill, the president’s use of executive orders and regulatory discretion has reached a level that Congress views as dictatorial—not that Congress can do anything about it, except file lawsuits that the divided Supreme Court, its three vacancies unfilled, has been unable to resolve.
On Capitol Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan resigned after proving unable to pass a budget, or much else. The House burned through two more speakers and one “acting” speaker, a job invented following four speakerless months. The Senate, meanwhile, is tied in knots by wannabe presidents and aspiring talk-show hosts, who use the chamber as a social-media platform to build their brands by obstructing—well, everything. The Defense Department is among hundreds of agencies that have not been reauthorized, the government has shut down three times, and, yes, it finally happened: The United States briefly defaulted on the national debt, precipitating a market collapse and an economic downturn. No one wanted that outcome, but no one was able to prevent it.
Fears of civilization-wide idleness are based too much on the downsides of being unemployed in a society premised on the concept of employment.
People have speculated for centuries about a future without work, and today is no different, with academics, writers, and activists once again warning that technology is replacing human workers. Some imagine that the coming work-free world will be defined by inequality: A few wealthy people will own all the capital, and the masses will struggle in an impoverished wasteland.
A different, less paranoid, and not mutually exclusive prediction holds that the future will be a wasteland of a different sort, one characterized by purposelessness: Without jobs to give their lives meaning, people will simply become lazy and depressed. Indeed, today’s unemployed don’t seem to be having a great time. One Gallup poll found that 20 percent of Americans who have been unemployed for at least a year report having depression, double the rate for working Americans. Also, some research suggests that the explanation for rising rates of mortality, mental-health problems, and addiction among poorly-educated, middle-aged people is a shortage of well-paid jobs. Another study shows that people are often happier at work than in their free time. Perhaps this is why many worry about the agonizing dullness of a jobless future.
House Republicans released a lengthy report on Tuesday detailing how events unfolded and criticizing the government’s response to them.
After a two-year investigation that cost $7 million, one of the most politically contentious chapters of Hillary Clinton’s career came to a close on Tuesday. House Republicans released their long-awaited reporton the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Clinton was the secretary of state at the time. As a result, the investigation into the attack has been politically charged: It coincided with an election year in which Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. House Republicans, however, have repeatedly denounced accusations that the investigation was a political ploy. On Tuesday, they continued to do so, highlighting their efforts to make sense of the government’s response to the attacks.
The way members of the ‘model minority’ are treated in elite-college admissions could affect race-based standards moving forward.
In his new book, Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting Into Highly Selective Colleges, the strategist Greg Kaplan urges Asians not to identify as such on their applications. “Your child should decline to state her background if she identifies with a group that is overrepresented on campus even if her name suggests affiliation,” he advises parents, also referencing Jews. Such tips are increasingly common in the college-advising world; it’s not unusual for consultants, according to The Boston Globe, to urge students to “deemphasize the Asianness” in their resumes or avoid writing application essays about their immigrant parents “coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks.”
It’s the cloudless map’s first major makeover since 2013.
More than 1 billion people use Google Maps every month, making it possibly the most popular atlas ever created. On Monday, it gets a makeover, and its many users will see something different when they examine the planet’s forests, fields, seas, and cities.
Google has added 700 trillion pixels of new data to its service. The new map, which activates this week for all users of Google Maps and Google Earth, consists of orbital imagery that is newer, more detailed, and of higher contrast than the previous version.
Most importantly, this new map contains fewer clouds than before—only the second time Google has unveiled a “cloudless” map. Google had not updated its low- and medium-resolution satellite map in three years.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a new short story: a Virginia Woolf-inflected ode to Melania Trump.
“Melania decided she would order the flowers herself.”
So begins the new short story from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the first such work commissioned by, and for, The New York Times Book Review. The paper gave the acclaimed writer—author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, and the recipient of a MacArthur Genius grant—a broad assignment: Write anything about this election season you like.
Adichie chose Trump. Specifically, she chose the Trumps. And the result of that is “The Arrangements,” which, as its opening line suggests, trains its gaze on Melania, the woman most Americans know as silent and stoic and, perhaps most of all, a cipher. “The Arrangements” is, in the manner of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a tribute to an earlier work of literature—in this case, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, one of the still-soaring examples of literary modernism, and an early-20th-century novel that’s especially notable for being told from the perspective of a woman. In that sense, “Melania decided she would order the flowers herself” is both a call-out to Dalloway’s opening line and declaration of Adichie’s intent: It is Melania who will do the deciding. It is Melania who will do the thinking. It is Melania who will deal with the flowers.
The Late Night host discusses the pleasures of satirizing the presumptive GOP nominee and the rise of topical humor on his show.
Late-night talk shows usually take months, even years, to find their creative voice. In retrospect, Seth Meyers discovered his in 2011, three years before he took the hosting chair at NBC’s Late Night. That was the year he roasted Donald Trump at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, flexing a skill for sharp political satire that he’s only continued to hone since then. Last year, Meyers moved his Late Night monologue behind a desk and started focusing more on current events with a segment called “A Closer Look,” a longer-form piece that deconstructs a major issue of the day. Initially the show, which airs four times a week, featured “A Closer Look” once or twice a month. Now it’s an almost-daily staple.
American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.
As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”
The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
The 18th-century ailment was on the brink of elimination before budget cuts helped resurrect it.
In recent months, newspapers around the country have published stories that sound like they could have been written 100 years ago. Indiana’s syphilis cases skyrocketed by 70 percent in a single year. Texas’ Lubbock county was under a “syphilis alert.” Various counties face shortages of the medication used to treat syphilitic pregnant women.
But the headlines are very much modern—and urgent. Syphilis is back, public-health experts say.
For many years, syphilis was considered a practically ancient ailment—a “Great Pox” that, like tuberculosis or polio, Americans just don’t get anymore. There were just 6,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis in 2000, and the CDC briefly thought the disease’s total elimination was within reach.
Three Atlantic staffers discuss “The Winds of Winter,” the tenth and final episode of the sixth season.
Every week for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Christopher Orr, Spencer Kornhaber, and Lenika Cruz discussed new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners were made available to critics in advance this year, we'll be posting our thoughts in installments.