The Atlantic Politics Daily: ‘Namaste Trump’ Is a Sequel

The Trump-Modi bromance may have something to do with their populist panache. Plus: what happens if presidents refuse to leave office after their term ends.

It’s Monday, February 24. In the rarest of rare outcomes, a jury convicted Harvey Weinstein today of sexually assaulting two women (but acquitted him on the most serious charge, predatory criminal assault).

In the rest of today’s newsletter: Trump at the Modi-o, part two. Plus: the Nevada caucus aftermath, and what happens if presidents refuse to leave office after their term ends.


(Francis Mascarenhas / Reuters)

The MAGA show heads to India.

The sight was surreal: President Donald Trump clasping hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both of them taking in the raucous chants of some 50,000 Indian Americans who came to a Houston football stadium late in September for an event (aptly) named “Howdy Modi!”

Who wouldn’t want to bask in a sequel?

Today, Trump joined Modi for “Namaste Trump,” a MAGA-style rally for the two leaders in the world’s largest cricket stadium, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Though Trump tied himself into knots trying to pronounce Hindi words—stumbling over chai as well as the name of the city in which the rally was held—he got the crowd he came for. More than 100,000 people filled out the stadium pews; another 100,000 lined the motorcade route.

The Trump-Modi bromance may have something to do with their populist, us-versus-them panache: Trump sought to implement a version of a Muslim ban; Modi has done basically just that. Trump blasts the press as “fake news”; Modi’s government has cracked down on unfavorable media outlets.

As intolerance and division in both societies erode their democracies, I fear that the leaders may reinforce each other’s worst instincts,” William J. Burns, a former deputy secretary of state, writes, worrying about the type of relationship that is developing between both countries.

Read his full essay.

—Saahil Desai

(NASA / Handout via Reuters)

The NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson (photographed here at her desk at NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1966), died today at 101. That her role in the mythos of spaceflight wasn’t celebrated until her 90s is a reminder of “who gets left out of the stories America tells about its accomplishments,” Marina Koren writes.


(Jim Young / Reuters)

Nevada’s Democratic Party held its caucus on Saturday. If you’re still catching up on the results, we have the latest:

“In the most diverse contest of the year, the most progressive candidate in the field won his biggest victory yet,” Russell Berman writes: Bernie Sanders’s victory in Nevada proved his staying power, following the first two primary contests in mostly white states.

“Efforts to stop him so far have been ineffective and made the party seem out of touch,” Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: As Sanders rises, the Democratic establishment is weaker than it’s ever been.

“The Nevada outcome could intensify the muddle in the middle that has prevented any centrist candidate from emerging as the principal alternative to Sanders.” Even if Joe Biden notches a win in South Carolina (he was second to Sanders in Nevada), too many moderates remain in the race for any of them to truly challenge Sanders on Super Tuesday, Ronald Brownstein writes.

+ There’s a key lesson centrists aren’t learning, Ibram X. Kendi argues.



“That a president would defy the results of an election has long been unthinkable; it is now, if not an actual possibility, at the very least something Trump’s supporters joke about.”

Here’s a hypothetical. Say it’s November 2020 and Trump has been defeated, thus bringing an end to his administration on January 20, 2021 (or say he’s reelected; his term would still end in January 2025). Say he then refuses to leave the White House. What then?

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, looks at all the ways such a crisis would play out.


(Ben Childers)

Floods and Politics

Across Kentucky, floods are devouring rural communities. The catastrophe is out of sight, out of mind for many people living outside these areas, partly because the national news media are too quick to default to a “flyover country” attitude toward noncoastal towns, Silas House writes.

If coal mining isn’t devouring the mountain in front of your house, then it’s easy to leave all the lights on. If your home isn’t being carried away by floodwaters, it’s hard to feel the consequences of climate change. Folks in rural places aren’t immune to this disconnect. They say they care about the land, yet they often elect politicians who value profit over the environment. Rural voters’ support of Trump is widespread, even though he has been designated by several environmental groups as the “worst president in history.”

Read the rest.


Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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