The Atlantic Daily: The Republican Definition of ‘Presidential’

Donald Trump’s legacy as POTUS is still coming into focus, but one thing is clear: The GOP’s standards for presidential candidates have dramatically changed.

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Trump waving
Yuri Gripas / Bloomberg / Getty; The Atlantic

For four years, Donald Trump childishly lashed out at presidential norms. More than a year after the former president departed the White House for Mar-a-Lago, Washington is still trying to piece together what he left behind.

When, that is, they can find the pieces. Trump, it turns out, took some with him to Florida.

  • We’re learning how extensively Trump destroyed documents. The Presidential Records Act, which was passed after Watergate, “was not designed for a president as lawless and shameless as Trump,” David A. Graham explains.
  • He remains obsessed with his own defeat. The 2020 election loss “has pulled him into a deep, dark place,” Peter Wehner argues. “He wants to pull the rest of us into it as well.”
  • The GOP is no longer a big tent. “The single unifying requirement is paying fealty to Donald Trump,” David writes. “Pretty much anyone willing to do that is welcome.”
  • The party is lowering its standards ahead of 2024. “Shredding the Constitution should disqualify anyone applying for a job protecting the Constitution,” John Dickerson argues. But “the 2024 GOP presidential nominee will either be Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election, or it will be someone who passes the current purity test: agreeing to overlook the fact that Trump tried to overthrow an election.”
Lindsey Jacobellis at 2022 Winter Olympics
Tim Clayton / Corbis / Getty

The news in three sentences:

(1) Four additional U.S. states, including New York, announced the end of their mask mandates.

(2) The truck-driver protests in Canada, including blockades at the border, continued.

(3) The snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis secured America’s first gold medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Take a minute to admire the stars while reading “Night Sky” by the poet Carl Dennis.

A break from the news:

The older we get, the more we need our friends—and the harder it is to keep them, Jennifer Senior writes.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.