The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Beto’s Mythtakes

Can the Texas Democrat turn his popularity and fundraising numbers into a real movement? Plus: Joe Biden's not-yet-campaign isn't ready for #MeToo accusations

Clarice Silber / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, April 1.

‣ A whistle-blower in the White House has reportedly told Congress that senior officials in Donald Trump’s administration granted security clearances to 25 people whose applications had been previously denied by career employees.

‣ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced that on Wednesday, he will authorize a subpoena to obtain the full report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Biden Isn’t Ready: Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has already run for president twice unsuccessfully, has been mulling a presidential run for the past few weeks, but he hasn’t yet hired staff or set up his campaign team. (Supporters have been told he might not announce for another few weeks.) And the work he’s doing almost-but-not-yet-running is surfacing problems: Biden has been accused of kissing a woman on the back of her head without her consent, but his presidential campaign team can’t push back, because it doesn’t exist yet.

The Story of Beto O’Rourke: Myth is important to O’Rourke. He loves The Odyssey and even named his eldest son Ulysses. But there are some discrepancies between reality and the myths he erects around himself. Can the Texas Democrat turn his popularity and massive fundraising numbers into a real movement? Edward-Isaac Dovere reports.

As always, we’ll continue to update our 2020 tracker as more candidates throw their hat in the ring. Keep an eye on that here.

‘The Worse, the Better’: Two of Donald Trump’s recent moves—to cut federal aid to three Latin American countries, and to assert that the Affordable Care Act should be thrown out entirely—show that the president shares political sensibilities with the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin: “Increasing turmoil is the point, since the worse things are, the better things are” for holding on to power, writes David Graham.


The Capitol is framed amid blooming cherry trees in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

Bill Barr Has Promised Transparency. He Deserves the Chance to Deliver. (Benjamin Wittes)
“I am still inclined to give Barr the benefit of the doubt on the release of the Mueller report, if only in a kind of ‘trust but verify’ sort of way. The reason, in short, is that Barr has promised numerous times to show his work.” → Read on.

White Terrorists Give Political Cover to Other Americans’ Prejudices (Ibram X. Kendi)
“This police officer could not have been suspecting me. I thought for a second to look behind me. I’m glad I did not. A sudden movement from a black person before a fearful police officer can be a death sentence.” → Read on.

(Fox News)

Fox Got It Wrong With ‘3 Mexican Countries,’ but It Also Got It Right (Adrienne LaFrance)
“If your solution to the migrant crisis is to ratchet up the pain of migration until it slows, understanding specifics is not necessary. One Mexico, or three, or five—the solution is the same.” → Read on.

Trump Laid a Trap on Immigration—And Only Beto Sees It (Peter Beinart)
“Critics lampoon O’Rourke as light on government accomplishments and policy detail. But so far, he is the only person putting Latin America at the center of his foreign-policy agenda—which is where it belongs.” → Read on.

What Democratic Contenders Are Missing in the Race to Revive Antitrust (John Newman)
“No matter how strongly worded a law may be, ideologically driven judges can usually find a way around enforcing it. The cyclical history of U.S. antitrust law is proof that judges wield nearly limitless institutional power in this area.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

What Liberal Columnists Miss About Rural America (Tarence Ray, The Baffler)
What American Nationalism Might Mean as a Question of Public Policy (Kevin D. Williamson, National Review)
Where in the U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS? (Paul Kiel and Hannah Fresques, ProPublica)

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