Top 5: Stanley Tucci & Italy

+ in related news...Meet Ilaria

Dear friends,

On March 23, Melissa and I welcomed our beloved second daughter, Ilaria Ciro Wear, into the world.

We fell in love with Ilaria's first name on our last trip to Italy, which we took in late 2019 with Saoirse and Melissa’s parents. We decided on the streets of Turin that if we were blessed to have another baby girl, her name would be Ilaria. “Ciro” comes from my grandfather, who was my best friend and the most incredible person. I understand that Shakespeare wrote “what’s in a name?,” but he was busy rationalizing for his star-crossed lovers. There is a great deal of love invested in Ilaria’s name, and we already have a great deal of love for Ilaria herself. 

We are going to take off from our usual political and faith in the news round-ups this week, but we’ll ramp back up to our usual routine for subscribers later in the month of April. See below for a brief look-ahead at the political week ahead, as well as some thoughts and analysis regarding our roiling immigration debates. You’ll find the Top Five, as usual, in this post as well.

For those who will be celebrating Easter, we hope yours is blessed.

-Michael and Melissa

This week, look for President Biden to begin to roll-out details of his $3-4 trillion spending proposals, starting with the infrastructure package. He is expected to push the infrastructure bill in tandem with one or two other pieces of legislation concentrated on child and health care issues like universal pre-K, national child care support and paid leave. (Reuters) The debate over the filibuster will continue to percolate as well.

So, too, will conversations about what is happening at the border. For more than a decade, immigration politics has been defined by negative polarization, perhaps as much as any major issue in our politics. What has driven Republicans approach—even though when you dig down into the numbers, Republican voters are more nuanced on the subject—is a conviction they must stand against Democrats’ supposed support for “open borders.” What has driven Democrats’ approach—even though when you dig down into the numbers, Democratic voters are more nuanced on the subject—is a conviction they must stand against the cruelty of Republicans’ policies. This leads to the situation we have now, and which has been persistent over the last decade plus wherein the opposition party is eager to put attention on the flaws of those in power without seriously engaging the complexity involved. Once in power, each political party’s voters, if not the elected officials themselves, have a hard time reconciling the strident rhetoric from when they were in the opposition with the nuance required to actually govern.

We would do well, I think, to understand that this is a humanitarian crisis, and to have that reflected in our politics. President Biden has taken a step in this direction by asking Vice President Kamala Harris to take the lead in diplomatic efforts with Mexico and Northern Triangle countries. As with any multi-national crisis, there are limits to what the United States can or should do to address it. This seems to be clear when it comes to vaccine distribution, even as we debate what those limits should be, in a way that it is not when we talk about immigration policy. There are clear, vital differences in the Biden Administration’s approach to the border as compared to the Trump Administration’s policies.

However, it must be said that Democratic voters, and the country at large, were poorly served by the way the debate over immigration policy played out during the Democratic primary. A debate that generally failed to reckon with governance, and instead seemed to be oriented toward hardening Democratic opposition to Trump’s policies without truly reckoning with what Democrats would do. One exception is this exchange driven by Julian Castro, who was not a favorite of mine during the campaign, who at least was willing to be honest about what it would look like to match Democrats’ rhetoric with actual policy. One reason Julian Castro’s candidacy was so inconvenient was that he exposed that what was popular rhetorically was not so popular in practice. In this debate excerpt, Beto O’Rourke attempts to speak about how his immigration policy would prevent the abuses of the Trump Administration. Castro responds by switching the frame from one of opposition to Trump, to a more specific policy change. He even explicitly contradicts the common suggestion from Democrats that those at the border are all seeking asylum. It’s a deeply uncomfortable moment. Most of the uncomfortable, disjointed moments in the Democratic primary came from when the focus was not on Trump, but on internal debates within the party. (As an aside, this is why Democrats were fortunate to be running against a candidate in Trump who did not know how to allow spotlight to drift off of him.)

My sense is that immigration policy is too much of a cornerstone of Republican politics now for there to be a healthy bipartisan debate on the subject. It really was something to see 19 Republican Senators at the border this weekend, decrying “inhumane” conditions at the border after being mostly silent during the previous administration when we had a president who boasted of dehumanizing immigrants. But Biden might want to look across the Atlantic, to the example of Chancellor Angela Merkel, for lessons on how to approach migration issues from a position of strength and values. Democrats have done a good job of opposing bad immigration policy over the last four years, but they’ve done a poor job of supporting good immigration policy, and explaining these issues to the public. There’s no universally-supported approach to what is happening at the border, but the Biden-Harris Administration can give the American people an understanding of what is at stake that isn’t dependent on partisan animosity.

The Top 5 articles for your week:

  1. “The Timeless Fantasy of Stanley Tucci Eating Italian Food” (New Yorker)

    Because you should be watching “Searching for Italy.” That’s all.

  2. “We Were Here” (Vox)

    Because Alissa Wilkinson has written an essential piece on memory and grief and how we can process the pandemic.

  3. “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet” (Politico Magazine)

    Because we’ve never heard of the biomass industry, the great harm it may be doing, and how there’s a debate among policymakers that will greatly affect US climate change policies.

  4. “A DNA Sequencing Revolution Helped Us Fight Covid. What Else Can It Do?” (NYT Magazine)

    Because with the pandemic, we’ve experienced a huge leap in medical technology and development.

  5. “‘They Aren’t Who You Think They Are’” (The Dispatch)

    Because this is a harrowing and disturbing read from David and Nancy French on sex abuses at the Kanakuk Kamps.

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