John Fetterman is very online. That’s not why he’s ahead.


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The Democratic candidate for senator from Pennsylvania is famous for his ultra-casual aesthetic and his irreverent social media strategy.

But first, here are three new stories from Atlantic.

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John Fetterman has led the Pennsylvania Senate race for some time, but this week’s Fox poll shows one of the biggest gaps yet: He leads Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz by 11 points. You’ve probably heard a million different descriptions of Fetterman by now, probably because the man is so fun to describe. He’s tall and broad, with a puckered forehead and a curious personality, like Shrek in a hoodie and cargo shorts. Real Rust Belt vibes. And those vibes, along with his working-class campaign, helped him attract many different voters, including some Republicans. “It tests the idea that leftist candidates can win over non-leftist voters with the right aesthetic and a ‘workers, wages, weeds’ platform,” as my colleague David A. Graham wrote in May .

But Fetterman has also become well known recently for his relentless roasting of Oz on social media. He posted meme after meme on Twitter, poking fun at the Trump-endorsed Republican, and reminding voters that Oz is from New Jersey, not Pennsylvania. Fetterman enlisted New Jersey celebrities Steven Van Zandt and Snooki to poke fun at Oz in videos, and he started a petition to induct Oz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. “Could John Fetterman Shitpost His Way to the US Senate?” The daily beast asked earlier this month. “I mean we’re really trying,” Fetterman replied on Twitter.

Some members of Fetterman’s party are not in favor of all this trolling. “With all eyes on Fetterman and Oz, Pennsylvania, and perhaps politics itself, has become an afterthought,” wrote Luke Winkie this week in Slate. I get this review, but I think it’s a bit silly; Fetterman still posts about political goals. He’s not leading in the polls because of his posts on Twitter, a platform most Democratic voters aren’t even on.

The most important thing to note is that Fetterman’s constant display seems like a way to distract or at least compensate for his health issues. The progressive Democrat has spent most of the summer off the campaign trail since suffering a stroke in May when doctors implanted a pacemaker along with a defibrillator. There are still lingering questions about Fetterman’s health. He recently started attending small private events, but he has yet to host a public event without fundraising. In his first interview since the stroke, Fetterman told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he still has hearing problems and sometimes insults his words. He looks pretty stuffy in a video that he and his wife did this week.

The race in Pennsylvania would likely be much closer if Oz were a better candidate; he did not do much actual campaigning while Fetterman was recovering. In fact, Oz is one of many GOP candidates who seem — whether out of scandal, poor decision-making, or sheer quirkiness — to spoil Republicans’ chances of winning back the Senate. Fetterman is still the favorite to win in November. But his recovery process is going to make his fall debates against Oz – if they happen – even more important.


Today’s News
  1. The Biden administration plans to offer revamped COVID-19 booster shots in September. These projectiles should provide better protection against Omicron’s BA.5 sub-variant.
  2. The death toll from severe Kentucky flooding has risen to 16 and is expected to rise.
  3. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Blinken urged Lavrov to accept a release offer from Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Follow-up: This spring, Helen Lewis argued that the ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial, a legal dispute between two wives of English footballers, was the most misguided libel case since that of Oscar Wilde. Today the High Court in London pronounced against the plaintifffinding no defamation.


Evening reading
Gene J. Puskar/AP

By Maxwell King

(From 2018)

For the millions of adults who grew up watching him on public television, Fred Rogers represents the most important human values: respect, compassion, kindness, integrity, humility. On Mr. Rogers’ neighborhoodthe show he created 50 years ago and starred in, he was the epitome of simple, natural ease.

But as I write in my next book, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, Rogers’ placidity belied the intense care he took to shape each episode of his program. He insisted that every word, whether spoken by a person or a puppet, be scrutinized, because he knew that children – the preschool boys and girls who made up the core of his audience – had tend to take things literally.

Read the article completely.

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Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood in
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Thanks for all the great spritz recommendations yesterday. Today I wanted to share a New Yorker article I can’t stop thinking about. It’s about a man named Steve in Colorado who adopts old, decrepit dogs and makes their final years happy and comfortable. Currently, his housemates include 10 perfectly named puppies – Melvin, Fernando, Cat, Mrs. Woolworth, Raylene, Juanita, Willamena, Chalmer, Hertha and Loretta – a lazy pig and a blind turkey. I love these tattered old creatures, especially Raylene, who seems like a glamorous movie star in her old life. (The story is worth reading if only for the delicious photos). To me, Steve’s determination to give these old dogs a home, despite the constant goodbyes, is nothing short of heroic. “The joy I get out of it far exceeds the pain,” he told writer Susan Orlean. “I remember it’s not about me; it’s about what I do for them. It’s about giving them a good life.

— Elaine

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.


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