The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: The Fate of the Union

Nancy Pelosi published a letter declining to allow the State of the Union in the House Chamber until the government reopens.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Wednesday, January 23. On the 33rd day of the partial government shutdown, we’re looking ahead to tomorrow, when the Senate is expected to vote on two competing bills to end the stalemate—but neither is expected to pass.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Donald Trump said that he’ll deliver the State of the Union at the Capitol on January 29, despite Pelosi’s request to postpone it until after the shutdown is over. In response, Pelosi published a letter declining to allow the State of the Union in the House Chamber until the government reopens.

But today’s turmoil isn’t confined to U.S. soil: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the nation would cut off diplomatic relations with the U.S. after Trump recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president.

Another One Jumps Into the Race: Pete Buttigieg (Boot-uh-judge, roughly meaning “lord of poultry”), the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is running for president. He told Edward-Isaac Dovere that his youth is a selling point: “When I took office, I drilled into people ... that the one phrase that is just not welcome here is, We’ve always done it this way.”

The Shutdown Strikes Again: FBI agents say that the loss of funding due to the partial government shutdown is impeding investigations and has created a serious national-security threat.

Zooming Out: While the shutdown rolls on, long-term national-security questions still plague the Foreign Service. Kathy Gilsinan reports on the United States’ uneven approach to prosecuting terrorist suspects.

‘Nobody Is Going to Believe You’: Bryan Singer, the Bohemian Rhapsody director, has been trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct for 20 years. In the March 2019 issue of The Atlantic magazine, his alleged victims tell Alex French and Maximillian Potter their stories.

Constant State: Trump has repeatedly threatened to declare a state of emergency to secure funding for a border wall. He’s not the only president to use emergency powers to bypass Congress: There are roughly 30 ongoing states of emergency in the U.S., some of them decades old.


Demonstrators protest against the partial government shutdown in the hallway outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office. Leah Millis / Reuters

Ideas From The Atlantic

The Trump-Era Overcorrection (Adam Serwer)
“It is an understandable impulse to want to repair a relationship with an estranged audience—news is about informing the public, and you can’t inform the public if a large segment of it doesn’t trust you. But the only goal that really matters is getting it right. The overcorrection is not about getting it right; it is about convincing people who will never trust the media to trust the media. And it is certain to fail.” → Read on.

The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story (Caitlin Flanagan)
“I am prompted to issue my own Ethics Reminders for The New York Times. Here they are: You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will causally harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won. If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.” → Read on.

I’m Doing a Reverse Marie Kondo on My Life (Jenny Shank)
“My family and I are not poor. We’re lucky to have a used piano, a houseful of books, and some resources. Those harder hit by this shutdown are likely, at this moment, trying to cling not only to the things that keep them alive, but also to those that keep them human.” → Read on.

Supersizing the Second Amendment (Garrett Epps)
“Legal history can be read many ways; adding in ‘tradition’—that is, a freewheeling assessment of the history of firearms not limited to legal sources and spanning the years from 1787 until now—creates a jurisprudential bullet that probably can pierce precedent, or public policy, or both.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Iowa Prepares for the Mother of All Caucuses (Natasha Korecki, Politico)
A ‘Go Big’ Idea to End the Shutdown (Jonathan Swan, Axios)
‘I Figured It Was Going to Be a Horrible Death, and It Probably Will Be’ (Cat Schuknecht, NPR)
How an Atlanta Neighborhood Died on the Altar of Super Bowl Dreams (Max Blau and Dustin Chambers, The Bitter Southerner)
Plants Are Losing Their Capacity to Absorb Human C02 Emissions (Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard)
This Is Nancy Pelosi’s Finest Hour (Alex Shephard, The New Republic)

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