The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: The Swamp Won’t Drain

It’s clogged with former members of Congress-turned lobbyists, and presidential candidates such as Elizabeth Warren won’t have an easy time cleaning it out with their policies.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

What We’re Following Today

It’s Tuesday, May 28.

CORRECTION: Our Friday newsletter said that Donald Trump had announced the U.S. was sending 1,500 troops to Iran. It should have said that the U.S. is sending 1,500 troops to the Middle East, amid tensions with Iran.

‣ A parade of disaster weather continues: Tornadoes hit Ohio and Indiana, killing one, and the Midwest and parts of the South face severe flooding.

‣ President Trump returned from his four-day state visit to Japan, during which he said he was not bothered by North Korean short-range missile tests, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had described as “of great regret.”

‣ A disaster-aid bill supporting areas affected by hurricanes and wildfires failed in the House a second time after another Republican lawmaker, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, objected. (The Senate passed the bill last week.)

Here’s what else we’re watching:

You Can’t Drain the Swamp: The Democratic presidential candidates Michael Bennet and Elizabeth Warren have proposed a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists once they leave office. Currently, former senators have to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, and former representatives have to wait just one. Lobbying is the single most popular career choice for retiring members, and it’ll be nearly impossible to persuade lawmakers “to permanently cut off a lucrative source of their own retirement income,” Russell Berman argues.  “Good luck with that.”

Another Outbreak: A concentration of measles outbreaks in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community has resulted in an upsurge of anti-Semitism: incidents including “pedestrians crossing the street to get away from visibly Jewish people, bus drivers barring Jews from boarding, and people tossing out slurs such as ‘dirty Jew.’”

A Pastor’s Case for Choice: The Reverend Jes Kast grew up in a conservative, evangelical Christian community. She participated in pro-life protests and, like her family, believed abortion went against Christian teachings. Then she went to seminary. “I began questioning: What about bodily autonomy? Isn’t that justice? How would God ever infringe upon that?” she told Emma Green. Read their conversation on why Kast no longer believes abortion is wrong.

(Courtesy of Jason Paladino / The Atlantic)

‘A Pain in the Ass’: Emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request reveal how naval officers felt about the journalist Zachary Stauffer’s investigation into the death of the naval pilot Lieutenant Wesley Van Dorn. “Garbage journalism,” “we have little to worry about,” and “my hope is that this will now slowly go away” were just some of the internal communications about Stauffer’s reporting efforts.


Residents sort through belongings at the Westbrooke Village Apartments in Trotwood, Ohio, after the roof was torn off during a severe storm the night before. (John Minchillo / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

HBO’s Beto O’Rourke Documentary Goes All In on Intimacy (Megan Garber)
“What is striking, though, is the low-stakes nature of the miracle: But wait! There’s more! the film keeps insisting—and the ‘more’ here involves Beto, in his kitchen, eating some toast.” → Read on.

Self-censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science (Luana Maroja)
“The duty of scientists is to study the world—including the human body and mind—as it is. Some of our students, however, are seeing only what they want to see and denying real-world phenomena that conflict with their ideology.” → Read on.

The Abortion Debate Is No Longer About Policy (Michael Wear)
“Because the issue is so personal—it strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a person with life and agency—our discussions ought to remind us of our humanity and frailty. Instead, our toxic politics has taught us that to acknowledge nuance is to make ourselves vulnerable and exposed.” → Read on.

Robert Smith’s Real Gift to Morehouse (Ibram X. Kendi)
“If a billionaire can humble himself and declare himself community-made, then why can’t we? Then why can’t I?” → Read on.

The Tragedy of Edmund Morris (Andrew Ferguson)
“I often think of Edmund Morris, the master biographer who died this weekend at the age of 78, as the man whom Ronald Reagan, the subject of his most famous biography, drove crazy.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

The Intersectionality Wars (Jane Coaston, Vox)
River of No Return (Ted Genoways, The New Republic)
Elizabeth Warren Gains Ground in 2020 Field, One Plan at a Time (Thomas Kaplan and Astead W. Herdon, The New York Times)   (🔒 Paywall)
Donald Trump’s Wikipedia Entry Is a War Zone (Aaron Mak, Slate)

And One More Thing …

‘It Haunts Me’: For 50 years, the United States swore veterans who witnessed nuclear explosions to secrecy. Atomic veterans break their silence, and describe what they saw for the very first time in this documentary.

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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