The Slatest for Aug. 23: The GOP Primary Debate Could Be DeSantis’ Big Chance

Ron DeSantis, sitting in a beige chair against a red and blue backdrop and holding a microphone.
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Tonight is the night of the first Republican presidential primary debate—and the night of…whatever it is that Trump is doing on Twitter, sorry, X? “It is—and you won’t get this analysis anywhere else—a big moment,” Ben Mathis-Lilley writes, as Trump’s absence leaves an opening for someone else to seize the spotlight. In particular, it’s an opportunity for one Florida man who has had trouble gaining momentum, despite multiple reboots of his campaign, to finally do so.

What exactly is at stake at the debate? Tonight’s faceoff is not exactly one that can be won, Emily Tamkin writes—but it can be lost.

And who all is going to be at this thing, anyway? Shirin Ali has the full rundown.

Speaking of the debate, as you look at the lineup, you might notice a fellow named Doug Burgum. “Wait, who?!” you might wonder. You will not be alone—this guy’s name recognition is among the lowest in the field.

Jim Newell is here to fill us in on Burgum’s backstory, from tuxedo-wearing chimney sweep to North Dakota governor. (It’s unclear if he’ll actually take part in the debate tonight, though, due to a last-minute basketball injury.)

Fred Kaplan weighs in on Yevgeny Prigozhin’s sudden death in a plane crash, and what it might tell us about Putin.

Greg Abbott superimposed over a view of the Austin skyline at sunset.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Brandon Bell/Getty Images.

The Texas governor has taken his attacks on liberal cities like Austin to a new level, with a measure that can wipe out whole swaths of city- and county-level laws and regulations. Critics are calling it the “Death Star” law (cue Darth Vader’s theme music here). John Pfaff explains what’s going on.

Two years after making a harrowing escape from Afghanistan and arriving in the U.S. Yalda Royan is still waiting for a decision in her asylum case. She shares the toll this extended limbo period has taken, and explains why forcing Afghan refugees “through the deeply backlogged and inherently retraumatizing asylum process doesn’t make sense.”

On the left, the now-familiar image of a red head with a resonator guitar singing his song in the woods into a studio microphone. On the right, a silhouetted image of a silver-haired man strapped with an electric guitar.
Photo illustration by Slate. Screengrabs via radiowv/YouTube and Billy Bragg/YouTube.

Oliver Anthony’s “populist” chart-topper, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” stumbles by punching down. One of Woody Guthrie’s heirs wants to teach him to punch up. Sam Adams spoke to British punk-turned-folk-singer Billy Bragg about “Rich Men Earning North of a Million,” his own spin on Anthony’s original.

This second season of the Sex and the City follow up And Just Like That has really found its footing. One reason this show is so watchable is the surprising joy, fun, and humor delivered by Kristin Davis, otherwise known as Charlotte York Goldenblatt. Susan Matthews traces the transformation.

… as are many Baby Boomers! But not these specific ones.

Thanks so much for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.