McConnell's fading power, Chita Rivera's iconic talent, and peril in Senegal
TODAY'S BIG QUESTION
Is Mitch McConnell running out of power?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might be the most consequential Senate leader in memory. But it sure looks like his power over Senate Republicans is faltering.
McConnell is facing "one of the toughest challenges of his career this week," The Hill said, trying to gather votes for a bill to both replenish Ukraine funding and crack down on immigration. But that proposal has little support from his party, and McConnell may be forced to "abandon" the effort.
Republicans are increasingly criticizing McConnell for being too willing to make deals with Democrats. McConnell's biggest challenge, though, is probably Trump himself. The former president is "propelling that rebellion" against the border deal, Politico said. The two men have been at odds since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
What did the commentators say? McConnell is in a "fix of his own making because he didn't push to try, convict and disqualify Trump for Jan. 6," Al Cross said at Kentucky Lantern. Trump is now pushing against the immigration bill because he wants to campaign on border issues. Now the future of Ukraine is at stake. So, too, is "how history will remember Mitch McConnell."
He is "being forced to reckon with Trump's hold on the GOP," Emily Jacobs said at the Washington Examiner. Supporting Trump's impeachment after Jan. 6 would have been a "political suicide mission," one political strategist said. But McConnell believed Trump had fatally wounded his political career. "Obviously, in hindsight, it was a miscalculation."
McConnell's "vaunted political acumen has failed him at critical times" since Trump took office, McConnell biographer John David Dyche said at the Lexington Herald-Leader. McConnell did castigate Trump after Jan. 6 but failed to press impeachment, and now he's living with a Trumpified GOP. "That will be his legacy."
What next? McConnell's efforts on the Ukraine-border bill may come to naught. Politico said the bill is "already close to failure." And McConnell may have already accepted defeat. At a recent meeting with Senate Republicans, he "did not forcefully whip for or against the bill."
Meanwhile, the presidential election is approaching. Despite the bad blood, most observers believe the "question is not if McConnell will endorse Trump but when," said Spectrum News. It seems even McConnell is no match for Trump.
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Why Chita Rivera will forever be a legend
"Very simply, there was then — and is now — nobody who can sing, dance and act like Chita Rivera." Those were director Hal Prince's opening words when Chita Rivera was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2002.
Prince knew, and Prince was correct. When Rivera died on Jan. 30, 2024, at age 91, a bit of the American performing arts went with her. Over her more than 65 years of performing, she made an incontrovertible mark, all while being Latina in a milieu that did not celebrate or honor her difference. Rivera's influence and impact are sure.
A sublime co-star who knew how to complement There were crackerjack pairings on Broadway. Then there was Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera in "Chicago." Long before Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones inhabited the roles in the movie adaptation of the musical, Verdon and Rivera originated the roles, respectively, of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly during the debut run of "Chicago" in 1975. The two would slither and strut in glorious tandem during the show's final number, "Nowadays."
A triple threat who only ever served the story In the 1993 musical adaptation of Manuel Puig's novel "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Rivera played Aurora, a movie siren who is also the muse of Molina, one of the musical's protagonists. Molina, serving years in an Argentine prison for being a homosexual, conjures memories of Aurora to make his excruciating jail cell existence tolerable. And Rivera tears up the stage with her dancing and singing, as in the number "Where You Are." The audience, enraptured, is lured into empathy and identification with Molina's plight. And just like that, the plot hums.
An icon who created an iconic role Of all the performers who have played roles in "West Side Story," Rivera might have the most long-standing influence. She birthed the role of Anita in the original Broadway production. People, including Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose, have gone on to win Oscars in the role. That is how significant Rivera's blueprint is — and forever will be.
Statistic of the day
$7M: The price of a 30-second TV advertisement during this year’s upcoming Super Bowl. While this figure is similar to that of last year’s game, it is still a skyrocketing price compared to what it was decades prior. The $7 million is a 204% increase from the $2.3 million price tag for a 30-second spot in 2004. Ad Age
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Reminder – ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times."
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, with a PSA in response to viral videos of Tesla drivers using Apple Vision Pro headsets while in the driver's seat
Senegal's democracy in jeopardy
Senegal has been a bastion of democracy in Africa, but that could change after a series of parliamentary moves caused riots to break out across the country, putting Senegal's democracy in peril.
Outgoing President Macky Sall announced a unilateral decree to postpone the country's presidential elections. Senegal's National Assembly on Monday officially bumped the date from Feb. 25 to Dec. 15 to investigate the "disqualification of some candidates and allegations of corruption," The Associated Press said.
The postponement incited a wave of protests and violence in Dakar, with Sall now expected to stay in office until the new election — far past when his term is set to expire. Is the move an attempted coup foreshadowing the end of democracy in Senegal?
Senegal 'hangs by a thread' The news has "sparked a constitutional crisis and dealt a blow to democracy across West Africa," The Economist said. It comes as a shock in a country that has "avoided civil wars and coups and has held a series of largely peaceful and democratic transitions of power."
Even more surprising is that Sall has "played a leading role" across West Africa to "push juntas back toward democracy," the outlet continued. However, his message has been "undermined by a sharp decline in freedom in Senegal."
Another worrying sign: Senegal has been "[clamping] down on the internet in a new wave of shutdowns," Chiara Castro said at Tech Radar, often a sign of withering of press freedoms. As a result, there has been a "350% increase in VPN sign-ups." This might indicate that "citizens are preparing for future censorship."
Mixed feelings Sall's move was "well received by the former ruling Democratic Party whose presidential candidate is Karim Wade," Africanews said. Many of Wade's supporters were seen "celebrating the postponement."
Sall's spokesperson Yoro Dia said the postponement was necessary because of corruption. "Sall is to be congratulated on having taken his responsibilities to save our democracy from a Watergate," Dia told The Washington Post.
There is a sense of frustration "among residents who said they felt betrayed by their government," Mamadou Coulibaly and Rachel Chason said in the Post. However, the situation is also "likely to further reveal African voters' deepening dissatisfaction with democracy," Ken Opalo said for Bloomberg.
Good day 📜
… for archaeologists. A team of student researchers used artificial intelligence to virtually reveal the contents of a charred rolled-up scroll buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 2,000 years ago. The team won a contest called the Vesuvius Challenge, in which people around the world raced to decode the ancient Herculaneum papyri.
Bad day 🇯🇵
… forMiss Japan.Karolina Shiino, the Ukraine-born beauty queen who was criticized for not being "Japanese enough" to win last month's Miss Japan contest, has relinquished her title after a magazine revealed she was having an affair with a married man. She was the first woman of European descent to win the crown.
Picture of the day
A fiery protest
A man jumps over a pile of burning tires during a protest for the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Odelyn Joseph / AP
Packing the right bag for a trip is almost as important as remembering to bring your passport. Which bag to bring depends on where you are going and what is on the agenda. These three bags are ready for takeoff.
Stoney Clover Lane Clear Fanny Pack ($108) Stadiums and concert venues often require a clear bag for entrance. The Stoney Clover Lane clear fanny pack requires minimal space in your suitcase and will free up your hands so you can carry the important accessories at the venue, like a giant pretzel and $50 beer. The fanny pack can be worn around the waist or as a cross-body bag, fits a phone, wallet, keys and sunglasses.
Nordace Siena Backpack ($110) This is one smart bag. The Nordace Siena has a USB charging port, a fleece-lined pocket for glasses, padded sleeve for laptops and tablets, and an outer pocket that can hold a water bottle or umbrella. There is also a hidden back pocket to tuck away valuables. (Take that, would-be thieves!) The bag comes in a variety of colors, including a dusty baby pink and light aqua.
Away Everywhere Bag ($195) The aptly named Everywhere works in all situations. Bring it on a plane as your personal item (it fits under the seat), then use it as a daily bag at your destination. The highlight of this water-resistant bag is its full wraparound zip opening, which makes it easy to grab items and see what's what.
India’s youth are beginning to favor their country's relationship with the U.S. on the global stage, according to a new poll from think tank Observer Research Foundation. The poll surveyed 5,000 Indians ages 18 to 35 and found that 81% viewed India's ties with the U.S. in a positive manner.
Today's best commentary
'Immigrants make America stronger and richer' Paul Krugman in The New York Times "The mess at the border needs to be fixed," says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. And it could be "if Republicans would help solve the problem instead of exploit it for political advantage." But let's never forget that "immigration is one of America's great sources of power and prosperity." Foreign-born workers pay taxes that help fund programs like Medicare and Social Security. "Cut off the flow of immigrants," and our system becomes "much less sustainable."
'Biden's job approval rating is abysmal. Here's why he might beat Trump anyway.' Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times No president has won reelection with approval ratings as bad as President Joe Biden's, which are stuck around a "stubbornly low" 40%, says Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times. "Fortunately for those who want Biden to win — or who really just want Donald Trump to lose — that number" might not matter. Trump is essentially an incumbent too, and his outgoing approval ratings were even worse. This will be a referendum on both of their first terms.
'GoFundMe is a health care utility now' Elisabeth Rosenthal at The Atlantic GoFundMe got started as a tool for "underwriting 'ideas and dreams,'" from honeymoons to church missions, says Elisabeth Rosenthal in The Atlantic. But it has increasingly become a last resort for people trying to pay astronomical medical bills. "The most damning aspect of all this" might be that it's "no longer seen as unusual; instead, it is being normalized as part of the health system, like getting blood work done or waiting on hold for an appointment."
WORD OF THE DAY
An umbrella term for communities that believe men are "suffering as a result of feminism," including podcasters who are helping to further the ideological divide between Gen Z men and women, according to Business Insider.
Evening Review was written and edited by Theara Coleman, Nadia Croes, Catherine Garcia, Harold Maass, Scott Hocker, Justin Klawans, Kelsee Majette, Joel Mathis, Summer Meza, Devika Rao, Rafi Schwartz, Anahi Valenzuela and Peter Weber, with illustrations by Stephen Kelly and Julia Wytrazek.
Image credits, from top: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images; Jemal Countess / WireImage / Getty Images; Cem Ozdel / Anadolu via Getty Images; Illustration by Julia Wytrazek / Getty Images