The signature moments of Joe Biden’s rise to the presidency often involved the defense of democracy.

He announced his presidential campaign in 2019 by vowing to defeat the threat that Donald Trump posed to American ideals: “The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy — everything that has made America America — is at stake.”

At the 2020 Democratic convention, Biden began his acceptance speech by quoting the civil rights activist Ella Baker: “Give people light and they will find a way.” Five months later, he started his inaugural address with two brief sentences: “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day.”

In each of these moments, Biden was focusing on the threats to democracy within the United States. But before his 2020 campaign, he had spent much of his political career — in the Senate and as vice president — focused on foreign affairs.

In his State of the Union address last night, Biden tried to bring together these two strands of his career. He devoted the opening of his speech to a pledge of solidarity with Ukraine’s democratically elected government and a promise to hold the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, accountable for the invasion. And he cast the war as part of a larger battle.

“In the battle between democracy and autocracies, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security,” Biden said. (Read the transcript.)

There is clearly a limit to American support for Ukraine, and Biden acknowledged it. “Let me be clear,” he said. “Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” Polls show that most Americans would oppose sending U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine.

But a strong alliance of the world’s democracies would nonetheless be an important and new development. For much of the past two decades, the U.S. and Western Europe have struggled to check the rise of autocracies in China, Russia and elsewhere, even in Central Europe.

The U.S. has been distracted by a series of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and has underestimated both Putin and China’s leaders. European countries have refused to spend much money on their own militaries and have chosen to protect their economic ties with Russia rather than confront Putin.

The invasion of Ukraine has the potential to be a turning point. Last night, Biden promised that it would be.

“When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war in Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” he said. “While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what’s at stake, now everyone sees it clearly. We see the unity among leaders of nations, a more unified Europe, a more unified West.”

With both symbols and words, Biden signaled that he hoped the country was entering a new phase of the pandemic.

He did not wear a mask while walking to the rostrum or during his speech. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris did not wear masks while sitting behind him. Few members of Congress in the audience wore them, either.

“For more than two years, Covid has impacted every decision in our lives and the life of this nation. And I know you’re tired, frustrated and exhausted,” Biden said. “But I also know this: Because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools that we have been provided by this Congress, tonight I can say we’re moving forward safely, back to more normal routines.”

Biden said his administration would expand availability of post-infection treatments and rapid tests, efforts to prepare for new variants and distribution of vaccines to other countries. He also called for workplaces and schools to remain open.

“We can end the shutdown of schools and businesses,” he said. “Our kids need to be in school.”

The opposition party typically delivers a response to the president’s State of the Union address, and Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa did so last night. She accused Biden of taking the country “back in time, to the late ’70s and early ’80s,” citing higher inflation and violent crime.

But there were also some more unusual responses last night. In a sign of the current divisions in the Democratic Party, three house Democrats also delivered their own addresses — one by Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (a progressive), one by Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey (a moderate) and one by Colin Allred of Texas (a member of the Congressional Black Caucus).

Some other Democrats were unhappy about the spectacle. One of them was Representative Elaine Luria, who represents a military-heavy swing district in coastal Virginia:

The HBO series “Euphoria” — a hyper-stylized take on teenage life that’s full of drugs, sex and despair — aired its second-season finale on Sunday. The sophomore season cemented the show’s phenomenon status, as viewership swelled and fans turned to TikTok and Twitter to dissect each episode.

With dramatic plot twists and dreamy visuals, “Euphoria” is a show that’s built to be clipped and shared online. Fans care about the fantastical outfits, the maximalist soundtrack that zigzags from Steely Dan to Tupac, and the glitter-soaked makeup — so much so that the show’s head makeup artist is starting her own line.

Every generation gets a defining teen show, and “Euphoria” shares DNA with predecessors like “Skins” and “Beverly Hills, 90210,” all of which outraged parents. “Euphoria,” while still soapy, leans into darker territory with more graphic depictions of addiction, abusive relationships, violence and nudity.

For many fans, discomfort is core to the viewing experience. “You’re just anxious for an hour straight,” one 21-year-old fan told The Times. “When you’re watching a horror movie or listening to something that’s super high adrenaline, you keep listening because you want to know what’s going to happen. You just can’t look away.” — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

For more: They love the show but hate its creator — why some “Euphoria” fans routinely condemn Sam Levinson, the show’s writer.

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was vilifying. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

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By MD Abdullah

Abdullah is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.

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