The Atlantic Daily: A Presidential Contender Makes Her Case

A new memoir from Kamala Harris misses a few things. Plus the intensifying effects of the shutdown, reading James Baldwin, and more

Leah Millis / Reuters

What We’re Following

Kamala Harris makes the case for a 2020 run. Since arriving in the Senate two years ago, Harris has become a political superstar, earning a reputation for her tense grilling of Trump-administration officials. Her new book looks to be a setup for a looming presidential campaign, but “instead of weaving a political vision into the biography of its author, it assembles itself rather like a campaign pamphlet” and glosses over her track record as California’s top prosecutor.​​​​​​

Meanwhile, squeezing in some late Friday 2020 news is Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, who told CNN she has decided to run for president.

The effects of the government shutdown are about to compound. As it drags into week four and becomes the longest ever in United States history, the federal government is reaching uncharted waters. Funds for food stamps will soon dry up for 38 million Americans. The federal-court system could soon run out of money, and a potential exodus of unpaid workers from the public could send the economy into a tailspin. These near-apocalyptic outcomes most likely won’t come to pass: “Come February, no one will have the political will,” said one former Obama-administration official who helped manage the 2013 shutdown.

Have you or others you know been impacted by the shutdown? We want to hear from you. Reply directly to this newsletter, or send us an email with your full name, city, and state to with the subject line The Daily: Shutdown Impacts.

What to watch and read. With Barry Jenkins’s film If Beale Street Could Talk earning awards-season accolades, James Baldwin’s eponymous novel—which inspired the movie—is being dusted off the bookshelf. In the book, which is set in 1960s-era segregation, “Baldwin demands black people not only to accept whites, but to do so with love, positioning black love as a vital instrument for white liberation and interracial renewal on a national scale.” The director M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, Glass, is the latest in a trilogy featuring comic-book heroes who somehow exist in the real world. It toggles back and forth between silly and serious in a way that’s sure to delight his fans, while infuriating other viewers.


Sears out of business
A dismantled sign sits leaning outside a Sears department store one day after it closed as part of multiple store closures by Sears Holdings Corp. in the United States in Nanuet, New York, on January 7, 2019. See more of Alan Taylor’s photos of the week here. (Photo: Mike Segar / Reuters)

Evening Read

What can $5 billion buy in border security? Krishnadev Calamur explores:

“Drug smugglers have more than $5 billion to throw at the problem,” Theresa Brown, who studies immigration at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told me. “They will find another way.”

In fact, the overwhelming majority of drugs, weapons, migrants, and criminals cross the U.S.-Mexico border through one of 330 designated ports of entry between the two countries.

Part of the $5 billion could be spent on technology to detect drugs and weapons, which are concealed in compartments in cars or mixed with legitimate cargo in semi trailers and trains. It could also be used to hire more CBP officers to enhance detection and ease traffic delays caused by the time it takes to inspect vehicles that carry goods into the country.

Read on.

What Do You Know … About Culture?

1. Glass is the newest—and possibly the weirdest—film from this director.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. This artist apologized for working with R. Kelly on their 2013 duet, “Do What U Want.”

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel in this 2018 film, based on the author’s memoir of the same title.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Poem of the Week

Here is a portion of “Nightfall” by Brad Leithauser, from our 2006 Fiction issue:

In Iceland, in early January,
when dusk begins at dawn,
alone in a wind-whipped shack,
I kneel as though cowering
before my little stove door.
Nights are immense, and my coal is black
as night.

Read the rest.

Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here—the puzzle gets more difficult through the week.

Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Email Shan Wang at

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