Slate Plus

A Sad, Vicious, and Mostly Pointless Document

The Slate Plus Digest for March 17.


Look at this moose. 


Slate stories, all of which are about Donald Trump in some way, because c’mon

  • Is the president mentally ill? No, because he’s neither distressed nor delusional—he’s very successful at imposing his strange, ugly version of reality on the world. (He’s less successful at reading a book.)
  • His budget—“a sad, vicious, and mostly pointless document”—is a perfect reflection of his vision and symbol of his administration. Another good symbol is his favorite president, the white supremacist Andrew Jackson.
  • While we’re on the subject: Don’t forget that the president’s chief adviser is incredibly racist.
  • It seems like only a few days ago that Rachel Maddow was going to bring down the Trump administration with her leaked copies of the president’s tax returns. What a drag that was. Although maybe he and his allies will bring themselves down with their Bond-villain habit of bragging about their evil plans.
  • Read this essay by a Massachusetts freelancer with a chronic condition: “It’s hard not to feel like the new health care bill is designed to destroy me.”
  • Political correctness is, in fact, good.

Stories from outside of Slate, which somehow manage not to be about Donald Trump

  • This Guardian long read, about the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death, reminds me of a John McPhee New Yorker story.
  • From staff writer Josh Keating: “This Jacobin article about America’s role in undermining the Russian election in 1996 was really interesting and steers clear of cheap whataboutism. Includes an amazing Bill Clinton quote defending Boris Yeltsin’s war in Chechnya by comparing him to Abraham Lincoln.”
  • A $10 million lawsuit hinged on the kind of ambiguity that’s inevitable when you don’t use the Oxford comma. Why would you not use the Oxford comma in legal drafting? Get it together, Maine.

Very Short Q-and-A

Today’s question goes to staff writer Mark Joseph Stern, who covers legal issues for the magazine. It’s taken from the next episode of Slate Extra, our members-only podcast, in your Slate Plus podcast feed Tuesday.

Slate Plus: Do you think the courts are going to be able to stop the Trump administration’s excesses?

Mark Joseph Stern: I think they’ve acquitted themselves admirably thus far. I think that their job will become harder as Trump begins to appoint replacements in all of those vacancies that congressional Republicans refused to let Obama fill. Trump has inherited at least 100 vacancies in lower courts, as well as a Supreme Court seat, which he’s filling with an arch-conservative, and so the law will be changing. The law is never stagnant for a long time, and it’s already in the process of changing, and Trump’s judges will help to mold it in a new direction, and I suspect that most of them will be inclined to mold it in a pro-Trump direction. One of my greatest fears is not just that Trump gets away with his excesses in this four-year period, but that the courts accommodate his excesses in a way that affects the law for decades to come.

I think that we will make it through this, but it’s not a sure thing. It’s still so critically important for the people who oppose Trump’s agenda to be out there providing cover to these judges to do the right thing, marching in the streets, showing them that Americans still support civil rights, showing them that Trump does not speak for the majority of the country. It’s a lot easier for judges to go out on a limb when they know that the public is behind them.

Thanks, Mark!

And thank you for your Slate Plus membership. See you next week.

Gabriel Roth
Editorial director, Slate Plus