The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Biden His Time

The former vice president’s deliberations are focused on whether Democrats will support a centrist—especially one of his age.

Joe Biden (Jose Luis Magana / AP)

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, February 4.

President Donald Trump has nominated acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the department. Bernhardt, an ex–oil lobbyist, will replace Ryan Zinke, who stepped down from the role in December following a year of scandals.

Speaking of Nominations: Trump told The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that he prefers to have acting Cabinet secretaries rather than permanent ones because “it gives me flexibility.” But no matter how much Trump likes flexibility, the Constitution doesn’t, argues David A. Graham.

Testing His Staying Power: Democrats are still urging Governor Ralph Northam to resign after a blog surfaced a photo of two people dressed in blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes in his medical-school yearbook. Northam, despite initially issuing an apology for the photo, now denies appearing in it but reportedly met with aides over the weekend to discuss the possibility of stepping down. If he does, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would take over for the rest of Northam’s term. Fairfax, though, is now facing some serious allegations of his own.

Trump’s Greatest Opponent: In the first month after recapturing the speaker’s gavel, Nancy Pelosi has emerged not only as the highest-ranking woman in the history of the republic, but also as the leader best able to frustrate and outfox Donald Trump, writes Todd S. Purdum. “Trump’s a silly man, and she knows it,” says one admirer. “He’s not going to be a problem for her.”

Done Biden His Time?: Former Vice President Joe Biden is leaning toward running for president, reports Edward-Isaac Dovere. But his deliberations now are focused on whether Democrats will support a centrist—especially one of his age. Another septuagenarian’s potential entrance into the 2020 presidential race might be the push Biden is waiting for.


Omar Castillo, an immigrant from Honduras who says that he is an actor, pretends to be President Trump as he sits with other migrants in the back of a platform truck during their journey toward the United States, in Matehuala, Mexico. (Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters)

Ideas From The Atlantic

How to Soak the Rich (Annie Lowrey)
“If the goal is to raise more money for redistributive policies and to ensure that millionaires pay their fair share, Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal isn’t particularly efficient. It might not even raise that much money, instead discouraging employers from paying workers more than $10 million or workers from trying to earn more than that threshold.” → Read on.

The NFL’s Truce With Trump Wasn’t Worth It (Jemele Hill)
“You might think the NFL’s strategic behind-the-scenes groveling and appeals to the president’s ego would have bought the league even more leeway with Trump, but on Sunday, Trump couldn’t resist throwing a jab at the league on its holy day.” → Read on.

Ralph Northam Should Go (Adam Serwer)
“If Northam remains governor, he gives license to any number of future scoundrels to remain in office despite engaging in bigotry against their constituents. There is more at risk here than Northam’s political career.” → Read on.

Democrats Overplay Their Hand on Abortion Rights (Alexandra DeSanctis)
“By defending more expansive abortion rights even in the face of these facts, Democrats are exposing an uncomfortable reality that they would rather not acknowledge: They embrace abortion as a woman’s right to end the life of her fetus at any stage—not the right to end her pregnancy.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Lobbyist at Trump Tower Meeting Received Half a Million Dollars in Suspicious Payments (BuzzFeed News)

Protesters Try to Storm Federal Jail in Brooklyn With Little Heat or Electricity (Annie Correal, Andy Newman, and Christina Goldbaum, The New York Times)

Insider Leaks Trump's "Executive Time"Filled Private Schedules (Alexi McCammond and Jonathan Swan, Axios)

‘There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.’ (David Freedlander, Politico)

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