The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Joe for Broke

The former vice president is running for president—but last time around, President Obama favored Hillary Clinton. Plus: The acting White House chief of staff opens up about his job.

Joe Biden stands on one leg in front of the White House.
Andrew Harnik / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Thursday, April 25.

‣ North Korea reportedly sent the U.S. a $2 million bill to cover medical care for Otto Warmbier, the American student detained by the country for one year, who died shortly after he was returned to the U.S. in 2017.

‣ Facebook said it expects to be fined up to a record $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission over its mishandling of users’ personal information.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

‘Obama-Biden Democrat’: Former Vice President Joe Biden officially announced today that he’s running for president. He’s the last of the major Democratic candidates to throw his hat in the ring, but he joins a crowded field: Roughly 20 other Democrats are already in the race. This will be Biden’s fourth time running for president, and in his announcement he leaned heavily into his close relationship with President Barack Obama. However, the former president actually talked him out of running back in 2016, because he favored Hillary Clinton, reports Edward-Isaac Dovere.

Steve Snowden / Shutterstock / The Atlantic

Everything Is Going Fine: The House Democrats are lobbing subpoenas at Donald Trump’s administration, and the president is at the center of several investigations. Yet acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney wants everyone to know that he’s enjoying himself more than his predecessor, John Kelly. “When I got here, morale wasn’t what it needed to be,” Mulvaney told Elaina Plott and Peter Nicholas. “I don’t think I’m telling any secrets—John hated the job. And let everybody know.”

To Impeach or Not to Impeach?: Atlantic Ideas Editor Yoni Appelbaum argued in the March cover story that the House “must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs.” Vox Editor at Large Ezra Klein disagrees, arguing that “impeachment will be a partisan war over the president’s removal, and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.”

Listen to their full discussion on this week’s episode of Radio Atlantic.

Next Stop, America: The writers Deborah and James Fallows are back on the road, documenting politics and daily life in the towns and cities rarely covered by national media organizations. Follow their travels as part of their Our Towns journey.


Joe Biden arrives at the Wilmington train station in Wilmington, Delaware, after releasing a video announcing his candidacy to be president. (Matt Slocum / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

A Republic Too Fractured to Be Funny (Andrew Ferguson)
“Jokes that nearly everyone understands as jokes require shared assumptions, even a broad reservoir of lightheartedness and goodwill, and we no longer share those in our fractured republic. Humor has been privatized.” → Read on.

Unlike His Rivals, Biden Sees Trump as an Aberration (Peter Beinart)
“Before Trump, the former vice president implies, a moral consensus reigned. America, he declares, ‘is an idea’—an idea that ‘everyone is treated with dignity,’ and that ‘gives hate no safe harbor’ and ‘instills in every person in this country the belief that no matter where you start, there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work at it.’ That, Biden explains, is ‘what we believe’—or at least we did, before Trump came along.” → Read on.

A Voting-Rights Debate Reveals Why Democrats Keep Losing (David A. Graham)
“The debate … contrasts the Democratic tendency to focus on national solutions to problems with the Republican emphasis on state-level policy. It shows a Democratic tendency toward abstraction, and a Republican emphasis on action.” → Read on.

Authenticity Just Means Faking It Well (Gilad Edelman)
“Authenticity is not about being honest; it’s about seeming unscripted. If you sound rehearsed, then you can’t possibly be saying whatever you’re thinking right now; you’re saying something you decided to say at some moment in the past. Obama and Trump both have an uncommon ability to avoid that pitfall—even if they do so in very different ways.” → Read on.

Pete Buttigieg Offers America Double Relief (James Kirchick)
“That an openly gay politician can convincingly portray himself as more virtuous than a straight opponent attests to more than just the character of the current president. It shows how dramatically the country’s perception of homosexuality has changed.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

We Found 85,000 Cops Who’ve Been Investigated for Misconduct. Now You Can Read Their Records. (John Kelly and Mark Nichols, USA Today)
Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin, The New York Times)   (🔒 Paywall)

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