I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 11 minutes.

Today, we're covering Mexico's new president. Plus, a reader question about Joe Manchin, some internship openings, and a YouTube milestone on the horizon.

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Quick hits.

  1. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress yesterday, notably insisting that he has remained open to the possibility Covid-19 started in a lab and defending his agency against accusations it has funded dangerous virus research. (The testimony)
  2. President Biden is expected to issue a series of executive orders today imposing new restrictions on asylum claims at the border. (The order)
  3. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is currently on trial for bribery charges, is filing for re-election as an independent. (The filing) Separately, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)  announced she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (The announcement)
  4. The Israeli military says it confirmed the death of four more hostages and believes only about 80 of the roughly 120 hostages in Gaza are still alive. (The news) Separately, doubt continues to swirl about a ceasefire deal whose details were announced by President Biden. (The latest)
  5. The Justice Department charged Epoch Times CFO Weidong “Bill” Guan for an alleged scheme to launder $67 million in illicit funds to himself. (The charges)

Today's topic.

Mexico's new president. Over the weekend, Claudia Sheinbaum became Mexico's first female president in a landslide victory. Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and longtime activist for the political left, will take the helm from her mentor and outgoing president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (also known as AMLO). She is not just Mexico’s first female president, but the first woman to win a national election in the U.S., Mexico or Canada, as well as Mexico’s first president of Jewish descent. Her victory was particularly notable because Mexico is a predominantly Roman Catholic country with a well known machismo culture that values traditional roles for women.

Much like her predecessor, Sheinbaum's popularity is driven predominantly by the country's poorest citizens. Her vote share of between 58.3% and 60.7%, according to preliminary results, is the highest for an elected president in Mexico's democratic history, and this year’s election set a new record for voter participation. Opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez, who received between 26.6% and 28.6% of the vote, conceded defeat after the preliminary results.

In Mexico’s parliamentary system, if no party has an elected majority in the legislature, the government is led by a coalition of parties to form a majority. Sheinbaum’s coalition includes her party (Morena), the Ecologist Green Party and the Labor Party, and it is currently just shy of a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of Mexico's congress. With a supermajority, Sheinbaum can push through constitutional reforms without support from the opposition, and even without it she will only need to negotiate with a few opposition members to pass major reforms. 

Sheinbaum’s first position in public office came in 2000, when she was appointed Secretary of the Environment for Mexico City by López Obrador, the city’s mayor at the time. In 2006, she worked as López Obrador’s spokesperson during his campaign for president. After they lost the election, Sheinbaum organized protests claiming election fraud, then took a break from politics when her then-husband became embroiled in a bribery scandal. During that break, she served as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICPP). In 2018, she was elected mayor of Mexico City, the country’s capital and largest city with a population of over 9 million people. 

As mayor, Sheinbaum generated a reputation for working with people outside her political party to build out her cabinet. Her administration focused on major infrastructure projects meant to improve mobility and reduce carbon emissions, including a cableway system that could transport over 130,000 people per day, a free wifi program, and a major solar park. She also faced a few major catastrophes while in office, like the collapse of a metro line that killed 26 people.

Now president-elect, Sheinbaum has promised to continue the legacy of López Obrador, who boosted his popularity among working-class voters by tripling welfare spending in his first five years in office.

However, she'll face some immediate challenges: López Obrador was unable to contain spats of government corruption or bring down homicide rates and violence in Mexico, including against politicians. In this election cycle alone, 38 Mexican politicians were killed, and the cartels still control parts of the country. Sheinbaum will also eventually have to face the realities of a growing budget deficit driven by López Obrador's welfare spending. Globally, many world leaders are curious to see if she will follow her scientific training on climate change, given that other climate scientists gave her record on climate policy in Mexico City mixed reviews.

Today, we are going to take a look at some reactions to her election from the right and left, including some views from Mexico. Then, as always, my take.

What the right is saying.

  • The right is pessimistic about Sheinbaum’s victory, suggesting U.S.-Mexico relations will worsen during her term.
  • Others cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

In The Washington Examiner, Connor Pfeiffer wrote “Mexico’s election results do not bode well for the US.”

“Missing from the U.S. headlines is that Morena and its coalition partners could receive a qualified majority in both chambers of Mexico’s Congress once all the votes are counted. If this majority imposes unilateral changes to Mexico’s Constitution that undermine the country’s democratic institutions, the growing economic, political, and security crisis between the United States and Mexico would only deepen,” Pfeiffer said. “Whether it’s President Joe Biden or President Donald Trump who begins a second term in the White House next year, making concrete progress on these challenges with Sheinbaum’s new government must be a top U.S. national security policy.”

“The Biden administration’s deeply broken approach to Mexico is a significant failure. Despite flashy joint statements and shuttle diplomacy with Lopez Obrador, there has been little progress in key areas of the bilateral relationship,” Pfeiffer wrote. “The central premise of Sheinbaum’s campaign was continuing Lopez Obrador’s political project, yet in key areas, the extent to which she will emulate Lopez Obrador’s approach or go her own way is unknown… Left unsaid is whether she will accept greater security assistance from the U.S. to confront the cartels and pervasive impunity in Mexico’s justice system after Lopez Obrador’s persistent criticism of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.”

In The Atlantic, David Frum said Sheinbaum’s victory may be a “danger to democracy and security.”

“Over the past six years, Mexico’s autocratic president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has sought to subvert the multiparty competitive democracy that his country achieved in the 1990s. He has weakened the independent election agency that guaranteed free and fair elections. He has broken the laws and disregarded the customs that limited the president’s power to use the state to favor his preferred candidates,” Frum wrote. “Sheinbaum will be the first woman to head the Mexican state, the first person of Jewish origin, the first from the academic left. These ‘firsts’ will generate much excitement internationally. They should not obscure, however, her most important qualification: her career-long subservience to López Obrador.”

“Sheinbaum got the nod not because López Obrador wanted a pathbreaker, but because he wanted someone he could control after his mandatory departure from office at the end of a six-year term,” Frum said. “López Obrador came to power in 2018 with a huge mandate that he won in a free and fair election. Sheinbaum comes to power via an election that was free but not so fair. Because she lacks López Obrador’s charisma and popular appeal, her survival will depend on whether she can tilt the rules even more radically in favor of the ruling party.”

What the left is saying.

  • The left celebrates the historic nature of Sheinbaum’s election but wonders if she can effectively lead the country as a López Obrador loyalist.
  • Others question whether Sheinbaum’s progressive credentials will carry through to her presidency.

In Bloomberg, Juan Pablo Spinetto wrote “Sheinbaum’s huge mandate in Mexico comes with a dilemma.”

Sheinbaum “will be the first female leader in a traditionally machista country, extending hope to millions of women who still suffer everyday barriers to achieve their goals and dreams. She also obtained the largest share of votes since Mexico began having competitive elections,” Spinetto said. “The supermajority that Morena and its allies are likely to enjoy will enable them to push for constitutional amendments in congress after Sunday’s smashing win, making AMLO’s legacy even more powerful — and Sheinbaum’s debt to him even bigger.”

“For all practical purposes, after this election Mexico will resemble the one-party hegemonic system that dominated the country for most of the past century,” Spinetto added. “Yet at the same time, Sheinbaum will find out soon — if she hasn’t already — that some of the policies she will inherit from AMLO are unsustainable; she will be forced to change direction if she wants better results… That tension between continuity and change will be the feature of Sheinbaum’s presidency until 2030.”

In The Boston Globe, Marcela García asked “is Claudia Sheinbaum as progressive as her historic victory would suggest?”

“Sheinbaum’s victory is a decisive shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling. Hers is a win for women’s rights and equality in a country besieged by high levels of violence against women and a society dominated by a strong patriarchal culture. At the same time, Sheinbaum’s elevation is not all that it seems,” García wrote. “Many political observers assume Sheinbaum will continue on the course set by AMLO, and there are already concerning signs that she will stay aligned with AMLO’s policies and style of politics.

“For instance, during the campaign, Sheinbaum famously didn’t commit to accepting the results of the election. She supports the completion of the Mayan Train, a mega project that has been severely criticized for the environmental destruction it has caused. She also supports the growing role of the Mexican military. Given that context, Sheinbaum doesn’t seem very progressive,” García said. “One can celebrate the first Mexican female president as a milestone while also raising questions about Sheinbaum’s own progressive credentials… It remains to be seen if Sheinbaum is able to forge her own path and escape the perception that she’s going to be AMLO’s pawn.”

What writers in Mexico are saying.

Editor’s note: These pieces were written in Spanish and translated to English.

  • Sheinbaum’s supporters laud her victory as a resounding vote of confidence from the Mexican people.
  • Critics say there’s nothing to celebrate about an election in which López Obrador improperly elevated his favored candidate.

In Milenio, Viri Ríos described “the message of the 2024 election.”

“In this election, Mexicans were made to choose between two abysmally different stories. On the one hand, the story of hope. A narrative whose main argument is that Mexico is on the right track. There is a long way to go, but we are on the path to putting the poor first and improving the purchasing power of Mexican working families. On the other hand, there is the story of fear. Of bitterness. The idea that López Obrador has destroyed Mexico, that we were better off before, and that if we continue the current path, we will soon become a dictatorship,” Ríos wrote. “The voters have spoken. With unprecedented forcefulness, they told us that, in their opinion, the first narrative is correct.

“Mexico wants to put hope above fear. Generosity over rancor. In the opinion of an overwhelming majority, the country is on a better path now than it was before. The numbers are evident. The election was an outcry. On an election day that is historic in size and in the forcefulness of the message, the Mexican people said ‘no more.’ No more to a country that puts a handful above the rest. No longer a country of poverty and inequalities,” Ríos said. “This is a call to attention to the opposition, especially the PRI-PAN. Their strategy in this election was not a failure, it was a complete failure. A failure never seen in the democratic history of Mexico.”

In Proceso, José Gil Olmos wrote about how López Obrador has violated electoral rules to favor his own people.

“What should have been an exemplary democratic exercise was stained by two pathogenic elements that have the same origin: The procrastination emanating from the National Palace to fight organized crime, and the excesses of power of Lopez Obrador sitting in the presidential chair,” Olmos said. “The victory of [ALMO’s] political heir, Claudia Sheinbaum, leaves a bad smell and taste due to the number of dead, kidnapped and threatened in the course of the long campaign that euphemistically began with a pre-campaign of several months with an expenditure of multimillion pesos. 

“It also leaves a discontent and dissatisfaction with the impunity with which the president acted, violating the laws and institutions by promoting his party and its candidate electorally from the National Palace,” Olmos added. “Like no other president, López Obrador has violated electoral rules to favor his own… The National Electoral Institute issued 30 precautionary measures against López Obrador for breaking the fairness of the electoral process by intervening in his morning conferences, interviews and an event in the campaigns promoting his social programs and criticizing the opposition.”

My take.

Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, don't unsubscribe. Write in by replying to this email, or leave a comment.

  • I don’t have as full a grasp on Mexican politics, but some of these issues are clear to me.
  • Sheinbaum will have to address violence against politicians, the reach of the cartels, and unsustainable welfare spending.
  • Her stances on trade and immigration will affect the U.S. the most, but those are areas where Sheinbaum’s plans are the least known.

I'm no expert on Mexican politics, so I'm not going to pretend to understand the nuances of this election like I do the nuances of the Biden vs. Trump election.

For instance, there is a robust debate over whether Sheinbaum is an AMLO puppet or a savvy politician who ran a simple and effective campaign in the shadow of her mentor. Did she win her position easily because her predecessor has undermined multiparty democracy and weakened free elections, or because she stuck to his simple and popular messaging on important issues while her opponent oscillated between big and bold promises? I genuinely don't know how to parse that question.

I do feel confident weighing in on some things, though. For one, AMLO left a lot of unresolved problems that Sheinbaum is going to have to address. Violence is still a major issue in Mexico, and one she needs to make a top priority. Cartels control large parts of the country, roughly 30,000 Mexican citizens are murdered a year, and 90% of those murders go unsolved. 38 politicians were killed during this election season alone — with little recourse — and around 500 candidates had to be given security protection during their campaigns. From my perspective, that alone makes it hard to see Sheinbaum’s landslide election as the loudly shouted voice of the people, or Mexico’s current system as a healthy democracy.

Of course, Sheinbaum has had some success addressing crime in Mexico City, where she increased police presence, elevated their wages, and added security cameras in high-crime areas. Over her tenure, the city’s official murder rate dropped by over 50%. That kind of success will be hard to replicate in more rural areas of the country, but at least she has some kind of record to build on.

It also seems obvious to me that AMLO was spending at levels that Sheinbaum simply won't be able to sustain. Mexico's economy is not strong or robust enough to continue to support its current levels of social spending without huge tax hikes, and while both AMLO and Sheinbaum have been following through on popular campaign promises, a time is coming soon when the bill will have to be paid.

Finally, I see the democratic concerns about AMLO — and by extension, Sheinbaum — as legitimate. AMLO has violated electoral laws and Sheinbaum has absolutely benefitted from being his handpicked successor. Perhaps my biggest concern is that she appears to be entering office with a majority coalition so large that she could change the country's constitution without much resistance. Given her predecessor's record, that is an unsettling prospect.

Of course, for Americans, most of the questions about Sheinbaum’s upcoming administration concern trade and immigration. And in that sense, this part of the story is pretty interesting: We actually don’t have good indications of what Sheinbaum is going to do. Since she has spent her political career exclusively below the international level, and has focused so much on domestic issues during her campaign, U.S. pundits and diplomats have been left mostly guessing on how she’ll approach these issues.

Will she shut out private investors in Mexico's oil exploration? Will she work with U.S. officials to stem the flow of migrants coming from South and Central America? What about the fentanyl moving across the border?

The safe bet, of course, is that Sheinbaum will maintain the status quo we had under her predecessor, and that we can expect more of the same. Everything from Detroit autoworkers to your avocado toast could be impacted — in one way or another — by decisions she makes, yet we have so little to show us how she’ll make decisions. And people like me are left mostly trying to fill in blank space. 

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Your questions, answered.

Q: What's the rationale for a member of Congress to leave their political party, become an independent and then caucus with their former party? Senator Joe Manchin just did this recently. What do they gain?

— Ken from Lisbon, WI

Tangle: I’m glad you’re noticing these things, because there’s definitely something interesting going on with Sen. Joe Manchin (I-WV) right now.

Let’s go through it chronologically. Joe Manchin has served as a moderate Democratic Senator throughout Biden’s term and helped his party maintain its razor-thin majority. He often bucked the party line but was also a reliable Democratic vote who helped Biden pass his signature achievement, the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act. Then in November of last year, he announced his retirement.

At the time, his announcement set off alarms about the workings of a Congress that was seeing an unusually high number of early retirements. It also incited speculation about what Manchin could be preparing for. Plenty of people had already wondered if he might be part of a No Labels third-party presidential ticket — a rumor he had dispelled multiple times, insisting he would just be leaving the Senate.

Then, as we reported yesterday in our Quick Hits section, Manchin announced that he is registering as an independent, renouncing his Democratic Party membership. The Wall Street Journal speculated over the weekend that he may have been gearing up for an independent gubernatorial run in West Virginia. However, the deadline to file was June 2nd, and Manchin let it slip by.

So maybe he’s riding off into the sunset in a blaze of glory? If so, why continue to caucus with the Democrats — as you pointed out — or retain his position as Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee? That would have to be a particularly practical blaze of glory to leave his bipartisan bridges intact rather than fully burned.

Manchin has famously said that he doesn’t like to close future doors. However, he’s also been very clear and consistent that he won’t run for Senate in 2024 as a Democrat or independent, as he has been about not running for president. And I think he’s telling the truth (but watch for August 1, as that’s his deadline to file). 

My instinct is that Manchin is playing the long game, and could be preparing for a 2026 Senate run. But then I’m reminded that he is 76 years old — and he probably doesn’t have much politics left in him. Maybe all of us are just reading too much into these moves, and he felt it was appropriate to leave politics as an independent (rather than a Democrat) given where the party has moved. 

All of this, really, is a long-winded way of saying I’m pretty mystified too — and I can’t say with confidence what his future holds.

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Under the radar.

Former President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $141 million in May, nearly doubling their April total of $76 million. The fundraising bonanza was driven in part by Trump's guilty verdict, the campaign said, with the average donor giving $70 and first-time donors comprising 25% of the month’s contributors. Fox News has the story.


  • 1953. The year Mexican women won the right to vote.
  • 10. The number of Mexico’s 32 state governors who are women. 
  • 66%. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s approval rating in Mexico as of April 2024, according to Oraculus. 
  • 93. Mexico’s rank (out of 179 countries) in the V-Dem Institute’s 2023 liberal democracy index. Mexico ranked 49th in V-Dem’s index of citizen participation in elections. 
  • 23. The United States’s rank on the index. The U.S. ranked 19th in V-Dem’s participatory index. 
  • 560. The number of violent incidents reported against political candidates ahead of this year’s Mexican elections, the highest on record.
  • 7%. The percentage that IPC Mexico, the country’s benchmark stock index, fell after Mexico’s preliminary election results were announced, according to Bloomberg.
  • 4%. The percent decrease in the value of the Mexican peso after the preliminary election results were announced.

The extras.

  • One year ago today we had just written a Friday edition asking why we hate each other.
  • The most clicked link in yesterday’s newsletter was our Friday edition covering the Trump guilty verdict.
  • Nothing to do with politics: Mapping world happiness levels.
  • Yesterday’s survey: 756 readers answered our survey on President Biden’s new policy on Ukrainian usage of U.S. weapons with 36% saying it doesn’t go far enough. “Too little, too late! Should be no strings on any weapon systems passed to Ukraine,” one respondent said.

Have a nice day.

Brettne Brownson, an employee at Homebridge Health Care Agency in Norfolk, Virginia, was given a surprise gift by CEO Latavia Bennette — an SUV. Bennette learned that Brownson, a single mother, had been walking or taking rideshares to get to work and felt compelled to help, impressed by how Brownson always showed up to work without making excuses. "I had moments where I didn't feel valued where I was at, so when I opened up my company, that was something that was very important to me," Bennette explained. Sunny Skyz has the story.

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