We face eight weeks of election campaigning that will test our patience if not our sanity.

After six months of anxiety and dread over the virus we all have symptoms. From talks with friends, the most prevalent appears to be a new variety of agoraphobia: virus-induced agoraphobia.

This malady is a reluctance to go and to do. When some activity outside the abode is suggested, our first consideration is safety. But the proposed activity is often rejected based on a reluctance not supported by facts and not connected to reality. It’s just, “I’d rather not.”

What would ordinarily be an easy decision becomes like a pilpul, Hebrew for the intense Talmudic analysis to reconcile apparent Talmudic contradictions. The process of “shall I or shall I not” becomes almost pathological.

In this context, let’s consider some of the upcoming delights of Trump v. Biden.

The parallel news conferences called “debates.”

Unless something intervenes, it looks like we will have a “debate” on September 29. We can expect Mr. Trump to describe some of his perceived achievements and to attempt some whoppers. He will try to “get to” Biden by goading him with a series of “as you knows” (he doesn’t) and “you have saids” (he hasn’t).

Biden cannot “get to” Trump using the same technique because Trump is not abusable. He will either not respond to Biden or talk about something else. If the subject is elephants, Trump will discuss gazelles.

Then there is the matter of Biden’s life-long speech issues. If he takes it slow, he will be fine. But if he attempts to speed it up, problems could arise.

Rushing to complete an answer in the assigned time is preposterous. The suggestion from chess competitions that the candidates can take as much time as they wish from a fixed number of minutes for the whole debate has merit.

As with the rest of this dreary process, there will be no whiff of humor.


As Jill Lepore has pointed out, when Gallup started polling in the 1930’s, responses were above 90%. Thereafter they dropped substantially. In 2016 responses were in single digits.

This grim reality makes polls relatively worthless. I suppose that if there is a pattern across many polls a trend can be adduced. Right now, public polls are consistent with Biden marginally ahead but that’s about all.

The flavor of the day.

Today it’s The Atlantic’s piece alleging that Trump considers injured or killed military “losers” and “suckers,” based on four anonymous sources. (Trump has suggested that one of the sources is retired Gen. John F. Kelly, his former Chief of Staff, but Kelly has not commented either way as of this writing.)

These shots at Trump come up frequently but have not been dispositive. Even his recorded comment on grabbing women by their sex organs or his Charlottesville remarks on racists being “good people” didn’t do much.

The problem with this one is that it’s anonymous. The people who told  The Atlantic about Trump’s comments ought to identify themselves if they want to have an impact on the 2020 race.

An upcoming “flavor of the day” will be Trump’s allegation that Biden is corrupt because of Hunter Biden’s Ukraine business.


While Trump is the Democrats’ covid whipping boy, Trump is promoting a vaccine “soon.” The White House is putting pressure on FDA to approve one. The leading manufacturers have agreed that they will not succumb to political pressure.


From now to election day (and thereafter) there will be cymbals crashing, accompanied by the entire percussion ensemble, on both sides of this issue: voting by mail is safe and essential v. voting by mail leads to “massive” fraud.

There is no factual basis for the objection to voting by mail.

The real problem is finding personnel to count the ballots.


None of this is reassuring. We’ll muddle though.