Rule of Law

The Atlantic Politics Daily: Following the Hurd

Why so many Republicans are retiring from Congress. Plus: Squirrel Hill struggles with the role of politics in making meaning out of tragedy.

Today in Politics

Maybe the most fundamental truism in American politics is: Don’t make predictions. But, at least in Congress, if you’re trying to figure out which way the political winds are blowing, you could do a lot worse than tracking Congressional retirements.

Last year, more than two dozen Republicans retired, foreshadowing the Democratic blue wave that led to the party claiming 40 seats in the House.

The trend this year is a potentially ominous sign for the GOP—at least in the House. So far, 15 Republicans in the House and four senators are forgoing reelection without running for higher office. Just three House Democrats and one in the Senate are doing so.

Two Republican congressman announced they would leave the chamber today alone (though one amid felony charges). Notably, five other Texas Republicans have also called it quits recently.

Life in the House can be tough when you’re in the minority—and this wave of retirements seems to indicate that some Republicans have little confidence that their party will recapture the majority in the House anytime soon.

What’s notable about the retirees? They come from all over the country—including Wisconsin (James Sensenbrenner), Georgia (Rob Woodall), and Utah (Rob Bishop). The list is getting so long we’ve spun up a full retirement tracker to keep tabs on it.

Losses to the party’s already dwindling flock of women and people of color may sting the most. Two of the 13 GOP women in the House are heading for the exit, meaning that, in the House, there are more men named Jim than Republican women running for re-election.

But perhaps the most stunning retirement of them all has been Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the lone Black Republican in the House who, before the MAGA-fication of the GOP, was heralded as the future of the party. If Hurd is no longer the GOP’s future, who exactly is?

—Saahil Desai

Revisiting the UN

The gathering of the world’s nations is used to being overshadowed by domestic U.S. politics at this point. The activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the sea for two weeks to speak on climate change. The British effort to leave the European Union stagnates as the deadline ticks closer. Other countries were trying to salvage an Iran deal. But at the UN, crises are relative, Kathy Gilsinan writes.

Remember Venezuela? The humanitarian crisis unfolding in South America received light coverage during UNGA week. Nicolás Maduro remains in power nine months after the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognized Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader.

On Impeachment

President Trump seems to have no real impeachment war room. Bill Clinton focused on his day job during the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment, but Donald Trump’s Twitter screeds show the exact opposite approach, David Frum writes.

Impeachment processes are also about the role of Congress in American governing. “After all, congressional oversight is a critical component of the Constitution’s system of checks and balances,” Brianne Gorod argues, “and if the courts accept the president’s arguments, they would strip Congress of one of the fundamental tools it uses to serve as an effective check on the executive branch.”

The Week Ahead

‣ Monday, Sept. 30: House committees subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani over Ukraine-related documents. He recently spoke to—er, yelled at—our White House reporter.

‣ Tuesday, Oct. 1: Squeaking by the DNC’s deadline—and stricter criteria—to qualify for this month’s Democratic debates are Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard. The total field is still improbably large.

‣ Wednesday, Oct. 2: President Trump hosts the president of Finland at the White House.

‣ Thursday, Oct. 3: The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees conduct a deposition with the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who resigned last week after a … busy week for Ukraine and all involved in a July 25 phone call.

‣ Friday, Oct. 4: Trump speaks at the conservative youth group Turning Point USA’s Black Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

Featured Read

In the year since the deadliest attack on Jews on American soil, the Pittsburgh community of Squirrel Hill struggles with the role of politics in making meaning out of tragedy.

Even the most ardently activist jews in Squirrel Hill hesitate to say it out loud: Judah Samet got used. The 81-year-old Holocaust survivor was featured in national headlines after the shooting because of his narrow miss at the synagogue. He made the news again in February, during the State of the Union, as one of Trump’s invited guests. Memorably, the whole chamber sang “Happy Birthday” to him. “We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed,” Trump said. By attending the speech, Samet effectively acted as a representative of Pittsburgh, lending the president his credibility as a twice-over target of anti-Semitic violence.

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