David A. Graham
David A. Graham
David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news. More +
  • Mike Segar / Reuters

    An Unrepentant Trump Finally Acknowledges Obama as American

    Donald Trump has finally said he believes the president was born in the U.S. What took him so long?

  • Brian Snyder / Reuters

    Just Why Does Hillary Clinton Want to Be President?

    Returning to the trail in North Carolina after a bout with pneumonia, the Democrat sought to calm worries about not just her health but her campaign.

  • Carlo Allegri / Twitter

    What Is Donald Trump Jr. Talking About?

    The Republican nominee’s son appeared to make a casual joke about the Holocaust—but his claims about his father’s honesty and why he won’t release his tax returns deserve scrutiny, too.

  • David J. Phillip / AP

    The $1.9 Million Settlement in the Sandra Bland Case

    The agreement, if approved, would require reforms of the Texas state police and the jails in Waller County, where she died in 2015.

  • Mike Segar / Reuters

    The Trump Surge

    The Republican nominee may not be winning yet, but a series of polls show that he has drawn very close nationally and in key swing states.

  • Hyungwon Kang / Reuters

    Colin Powell, the Last Reasonable Man

    Hacked emails show the former secretary of state is frustrated with Hillary Clinton, thinks Benghazi was a non-story, is still angry about Iraq, and hates Donald Trump

  • Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

    Matt Bevin's Apocalyptic Warnings of Bloodshed

    The Kentucky governor suggested that if the Democrat wins this year’s presidential election, armed insurrection might be necessary to protect the United States.

  • Chris Keane / Reuters

    Why the NCAA Is Pulling Championships From North Carolina

    In response to HB2, the state’s controversial “bathroom bill,” the organization is canceling all of its college-sports tournaments in the state.

  • Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    Obama's Veto Threat on the Saudi 9/11 Bill

    The president still intends to reject legislation that would let victim’s families sue foreign governments for terror attacks—but Congress could override him.

  • Track of the Day: ‘Shoulder Suite’ by Big Shoulders

    Last week, I premiered “Chicago,” a new track from David Nagler’s new album of poems using Carl Sandburg’s poetry as lyrics. A reader, James Parsons, wrote me about another band, which took not just a name but also some song titles from the famous opening lines of the same poem Nagler used, which deem the city

    Hog Butcher for the World
    Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat
    Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
    Stormy, husky, brawling,
    City of the Big Shoulders.

    Here’s James:

    Your entry immediately brought to mind one of my favorite-ever bargain-bin cassette finds, the album Big Shoulders by Chicago blues-rock-polka outfit Big Shoulders. Instrumental tracks end each side of the album (this is how old I am, albums … and sides!), side one with “Big Shoulders” (they really, really milked that moniker for all it was worth) and side two with “Shoulder Suite” [embedded below], which I think I like a little better, but that’s today.

    Obviously their whole thematic existence is heavily informed by Sandburg’s poem, and I’ve always run the opening stanza through my head whenever listening to either track. They’re also equally excellent to play on the car stereo as you take any expressway into the city or tool down Lake Shore Drive.

    (Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)

  • Andrew Nelles / Reuters

    Did Chicago Cops Try to Cover Up the Shooting of Laquan McDonald?

    A grand jury will decide whether officers should be charged for lying about the October 2014 death of a 17-year-old.

  • Brian Snyder / Reuters

    It's Not the Cough, It's the Cover-Up

    Hillary Clinton’s defenders often complain that her critics turn non-issues into controversies, but her crisis-response strategy tends to have the same effect.

  • Hillary Clinton's 'Basket of Deplorables'

    Paul Sakuma / AP

    The candidate: Hillary Clinton

    The gaffe: Speaking at a fundraiser on September 9, Clinton said, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

    The defense: The short version, as articulated more fully by my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates, is that Clinton was factually correct. She partially walked back her statement, saying, “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that's never a good idea,” but also sticking by her basic point: “It's deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It's deplorable that he's attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American.”

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): It’s never a good idea to publicly write off a quarter of the electorate as “deplorable,” even if they’re voters that Clinton was never in a million years going to win. This comment is already shaping up to be one of those defining gaffes of a campaign—the narrative-making soundbites that are remembered for years to come, like Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe or Barack Obama’s bitter-clingers moment. The silver lining for Clinton is that those comments rarely make much difference, as I explored here. Also, as Greg Sargent notes, most Americans say they agree that Trump and his campaign are prejudiced.

    The lesson: If you describe your opponents as hell in a handbasket, that's where your own prospects might end up.

  • Thierry Roge / Reuters

    The Right's Putin Derangement Syndrome

    Four years ago, Mitt Romney denounced Russia as America’s top geopolitical foe. Today, Donald Trump sees Putin’s lawlessness and brutality as a feature, not a bug.

  • HillaryClinton.com

    Against Hillary Clinton's Fancy Swag

    Campaign gear should be ugly, tacky, and hidden away by the second week of November. That’s what makes the Make America Great Again hat, well, great.

  • Mike Segar / Reuters

    Tough Debate Moderation Won't Stop Donald Trump

    Liberals who hope a good, thorough fact-checking would disillusion the Republican nominee’s supporters are doomed to disappointment.

  • Ashley Webb / Flickr

    A Delaware Crash Leaves I-95 in Less-Than-Mint Condition

    A tractor-trailer carrying blank pennies overturned and caught fire Thursday morning, blocking the highway for hours.

  • Gary Johnson: 'And What Is Aleppo?'

    The candidate: Gary Johnson, making his debut here two days after Jill Stein. Welcome!

    The gaffe: On Morning Joe on Thursday, Mike Barnicle asked the Libertarian nominee what he’d do about the Syrian city of Aleppo if nominated. His answer was pretty atrocious:

    “And what is Aleppo?” Once informed that it was a city in Syria, he offered a somewhat meandering canned answer on Syria, though he didn’t really say what he’d do there.

    The defense: Johnson says he’s “incredibly frustrated with himself,” and basically acknowledged he didn’t know the city. To his credit, when Mark Halperin asked if it should “be a big flap,” Johnson replied, “Well, sure it should!”

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): Johnson and the Libertarian Party have a golden chance this year—Donald Trump is widely reviled by many conservatives, and he’s especially weak on foreign policy, where he’s shown next to no real knowledge. But Johnson keeps squandering opportunities to show disaffected Republicans and conservatives he’s a good alternative—on DACA, on religious freedom, and now on Syria. There’s a reason Johnson seems to have hit a ceiling at less than 10 percent in the polls—well short of the 15 percent he needs to qualify for the presidential debates.

    The lesson: A presidential hopeful shouldn’t have to Raqqa his brain or have a Road to Damascus moment to remember the biggest city in Syria.

  • Track of the Day: ‘Chicago’ by David Nagler

    Poetry, like music, lends itself to epiphanies—those moments where a piece of art that might have previously seemed inert suddenly seems to connect. For David Nagler, it was the music of Randy Newman that helped him appreciate Carl Sandburg’s poetry.

    Both Newman and Sandburg might be seen as bards of American cities—Sandburg with his famous poems about Chicago, Newman with his barbed paeans to Los Angeles, Baltimore, Cleveland. But it was the characters that did it. Reading Sandburg’s “Mag” in Evanston, Illinois, where Nagler went to college, the “down on his luck, at the end of his rope” narrator reminded Nagler of the characters on Newman’s Good Old Boys.

    That was two decades ago. Now, Nagler is releasing an album called Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems, inspired by Sandburg’s book by that title and featuring guests including Jeff Tweedy and Robbie Fulks. This is the premier of “Chicago,” based on one of Sandburg’s best-known poems (you can read the text here):

    It’s easy to see the allure of Sandburg’s poems for an artist—they are full of powerful images and lyrical passages. It’s equally easy to see the challenge, too: They don’t rhyme and seldom stick to regular structures that would make them easily adaptable.

  • Mark Makela / Reuters

    Who Was Bill Clinton, Anyway?

    The former president heads out on the stump, working to rally voters who don’t even remember his administration.