Chatological Humor with Gene Weingarten

Aug 04, 2020

You asked for it and you got it. Gene holds weekly chats every Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

Here is this week's poll.

Here is Gene's latest column.

Good afternoon. 

Very brief intro.  This one is addressed to the five percent conservative participants in this poll, and, actually, to a subset of them: the ones planning to vote for SCROTUS or are still unsure, or even those who plan to sit this one out, or vote for some protest write-in candidate like Chuck E. Cheese.   (There are some of you out there -- the latest 538 polling suggests a slight UPTICK in approval for Trump after two weeks of unmitigated incompetence and malevolence from the White House)

Anyway, check out this brief, gobsmacking clip from a new AXIOS interview with Himself:   Can anyone watch this clip and not retch at the infantile, self-absorbed inanity of it?  This is the smallest, pettiest man on the planet, soaking in self-pity, desperate for a validation he does not deserve. His mental illness is sort of the opposite of the classic impostor phenomenon, where a successful person is secretly deeply worried that he or she does not deserve the recognition.  He is a shocking, recidivist failure -- he has been his whole life, despite winning the presidency, a disconnect that is quite astonishing -- who thinks he is God's gift to humanity. 

I cannot understand anyone who watches this clip and says, "Yeah, okay, but..."   He's a sicko.  

Okay, so, two clips today.   Here's the first.  Watch it and know that there is still good in the world.  

And here is the second.  A love song. 

Please take the poll.   I have to say I am a bit stunned by one result: How few of you are living in sin.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH LIVING IN SIN? 

Okay, we start at noon sharp.   

Dear Gene, So. I had started writing you a rant about the supposed “hearings” held this last week. I honestly think both sides of the aisle just want to testify and attack. I heard no real questions. You and I are almost exactly the same age. I watched the Watergate hearings. I could not help comparing. I felt sad. Then the week started exploding. I was stunned that Trump could say or do anything that would get all of the Republicans to say, “no,” but suggesting postponing the election did it.

This week I will be talking to John Dean for a story I am working on.   I will feel 23 years old.  

Wait, the president can just ban something like TikTok? Can he ban Facebook, too, then? *Fingers crossed*

The media is treating it as though he can.   My theory -- I am sure others got there first -- is that the Infant In Chief is mad at TikTok because its users are thought to be responsible for scooping up tickets to his deadly Tulsa rally and embarrassing him with empty seats.  

TikTok seems like a powerful yet harmless venue for me, though it leads to skeevy things like this, from the NYT: " Addison Easterling, 19, a TikTok star who dropped out of Louisiana State University to pursue a full-time influencer career ..." 

As a 26 year resident of the DC area I am appalled by calling the area “the DMV”. First, that is saying “the District, Maryland, and Virginia” which is wrong. Second, the vision of DMV is not pleasant. If this was done in the back room of the regional chamber of commerce to enhance tourism, they missed it. Who or what entity started this madness?

I don't know.  I have railed impotently about this before. 

Office has set up a gift exchange and I have to buy a present for one of my bosses, who is a jerk. I'm trying to buy him a gift that subtly communicates I think he's an a**hat and terrible leader, but which he is never really sure that's what I think. His only interests are Star Trek and drinking. Any ideas?

Regarding your theme last week on weight gain during COVID, I thought you'd be impressed to know I set myself a goal of losing 15 pounds during lockdown. I only have 24 pounds to go!

Hahaha.  

Say Trump loses, but it's close enough that his disastrous handling of the Pandemic is the reason, per exit polls. You get visited by the Time Fairy. You can go back to January and miraculously make Trump respond well and forcefully to the disease. You'd save 150,000-200,000 lives, but he'd be reelected. The Time Fairy won't tell you what happens in his second term but says he reverts to his normal form. Do you do it?

That is a diabolical question.  Suitable for a high school ethics class.  I think it might hinge on the difference in lives saved (some of those 200,000 would have died under another president) and what, exactly, we think Trump would do in his second term.  

But from what he did in his first term, I'd say accept the dead and move on.  And hate yourself. 

Gene, last week you mentioned the "last good day" before the election. Please link to Petri's column from that day (or maybe it was on Election Day). I still believe it is her best, and I think she is a very good writer. It gives me chills to think about reading that and what came after.

Please note that the very clever Producer of this chat has embedded the answer INSIDE your question, so you look like an idiot.  You are welcome. 

Boy, the world has changed. The poll results show that, at least among readers of this chat, more women than men are happy with their genitals. As far as size is concerned, that's a big thing with some men, (no pun intended) but when I was young, the vast majority of women I knew thought their genitals were "weird" or "ugly." I had to spend quite a bit of time arguing this point. I don't know whether this is because a) I have misinterpreted the answer; b) women have changed, or c) the whole damn attitude about sex has changed. For the better. As a former hippie, I have had a fair amount of experience in this area; which do you think it is?

Yes, absolutely.  I remember this from young adulthood.  Young women were bedeviled by concerns that there was something wrong with them "down there," and men who were (stealing from Howard Stern) hung like mosquitoes strode around pleased with themselves.  Never understood it.  I am glad this has changed.  All women look great.    

Just curious why you decided not to include "In committed relationship but don't co-habitate" as an option for your second question. That applies to me and, I suspect, a lot of other chatters. (I selected "single" since that's technically accurate.) Most of your other questions offer five or six choices, so I'd appreciate clarification on why this one didn't.

It should have. 

I said I'm more attractive than most, but seeing how few of us there are, now I'm worried about being overconfident. I'm a middle-aged guy with no illusions about my average face, but I'm tall and slim, which I thought puts me ahead of the crowd, at least on a national basis. So: objectively accurate or stuck up jerk?

Probably accurate.  We're an overweight country, objectively.  Being trim gets you to start as a 3.   Pushing up past five shouldn't be hard. 

Why the poll question on genitalia?

Just a changeup.  The poll seemed too bland without it. 

I'm female, and I have never thought about how my genitalia look! Questions for other females: Is there something I should be worried about? What would you change about how your genitalia look? Question for Gene: Or did you just include this so as not to have a male-only question?

As I said, I included this question just to be a punk, and I cannot answer for women, and hope they will respond.  But as I said, at least when I was a young man, judging from women's magazines, there WAS a weird and kind of heartbreaking worry among young women that they weren't adequate.   I don't know what that was about.  You are all more than adequate down there.  

Your chatters are largely white, well-to-do, middle aged liberals who think they're pretty damn smart. If the whole country matched this demographic, Joe Biden would probably win in a landslide. But it doesn't match.

I do think that demographic explains the "smart" answer.  We all seem to be smarter than, like, 41 percent of the pop.   I bet those numbers would have been skewed downward during Obama's presidency.  

I am your age, Gene, thus was present at the sexual revolution and all. However, I was never interested in living with someone who didn't want to marry me. The strength of gender roles being what they are, I was afraid I would become chief cook and housekeeper to some guy who would put his career aspirations before mine. Even the sweetest, loveliest guys in the world are 99% likely to do that, and I wasn't interested. Plus I was terrified of getting pregnant by someone who didn't want to marry me. I was also not interested in that idea, of bringing up a child alone, at all. So I didn't marry until age 36 when both my career and his were well on track, and we are just about to celebrate 34 years of wedded bliss. Life is good. We wouldn't have found each other 10 years earlier (literally - we met overseas due to our mutual careers) so it was worth the wait.

Understood, but to me, children (or the contemplation of children) changes the dynamic dramatically.  

In 2016, I voted against him in the primary, I voted 3d party for president, but voted for a GOP rep as a check against the expected Clinton presidency. Since then, I've voted nearly a straight-line Democratic ticket in every general election, unless the candidate was uncontested, and then I wrote someone in. I fully expect to do the same in 2020. The GOP needs to be burned to the ground with a responsible center-right party rising afterward, with a coherent policy on governing and not just "but taxes and judges!" Until then, the GOP shouldn't occupy any elective office, including dogcatcher.

Interesting.  What SHOULD the new conservative party be based around?  The only winning issues I see are strength abroad and no political correctness. 

Of course, he also would like to make Sarah Cooper and her awesome lip-syncs go away.

True.  You know, I have tried to figure out why she is so good, and I think it's her facial expressions.  

I said I leaned conservative; I didn't say I was crazy . . .

Thank you. 

Get him a Red Shirt. If he questions whether you wish him ill, plead ignorance.

Haha.  

The freshman 15 has been replaced by the COVID19.

It might be more like the Covid29. 

I want to snark about how there's nothing wrong with it, it's just not as easy to find someone to live in sin with as you might think. But you nabbed Rachel despite your whole "face for radio and voice for print" thing so clearly the problem is, as I've always suspected, me. Sincerely, a 30 something liberal gal of self described above average smarts and below average looks

I prefer to think of it as Rachel nabbed me.   But you are wrong: You are beautiful.   

Do you think Donald Trump can drive a car? I read somewhere he’d lied about his height on his driver’s license, so I guess he has a license, but then he has a college diploma when obviously he has barely a middle-school education. Driving requires learning, adhering to laws and a bit of physical coordination, skills he doesn’t appear to possess.

Middle school education made me laugh. 

The poll confirms what most of us have always known: your readership is a very privileged group of people who are the type that aren't being hurt by the current economic situation, and are actually kinda glad that the recession will take out Trump. I believe he would have been re-elected until the virus and accompanying economic disaster, but he has no chance now. I'm happy about that, but I wish I and many others didn't have to suffer to achieve that.

You are right, and right, and right. 

What makes you think it's so easy for two people, especially past college age, to connect at that level?

Isn't it easier than marrying?

Recently saw footage of an orphaned baby rhino paired with an orphaned baby hippo to help socialization. It'll get ya.

A friend positioned the vacuum cleaner on her bed to avert the same pissing behavior that the singer is lamenting. Cat gave the bed and vacuum a wide berth.

Interesting! 

NOTHING is wrong with living in sin. I heartily recommend it, except: I dislike the term. Used to do it all the time. But I do disagree with the term. I don't personally believe in sin, because the existence of sin assumes the existence of god, which I deny. I propose the term "Living in Sex." Think it'll catch on?

Sure.  You understand I was using it ironically, right?  

The Manhattan DA is investigating Trump and his companies for bank and insurance fraud. He and the companies are almost certainly guilty - there is already evidence out there that he understated the value of his assets for tax purposes, and overstated them for insurance purposes. These are state, not federal criminal charges. He cannot pardon anyone or commute any sentences that come out of this investigation.

Yep.  I am excited.  It might suggest that, upon leaving office he will have "tsuris."    

Hey, you're a Semite, aren't you? Just trying to be friendly. ; )

Yes.  I answer proudly to Yo, Semite. 

I know this isn't your beat, but any thoughts on Ellen, and her apparently clay feet? Is this just a simple case of "never put stock in a celebrity's persona"?

Yeah, well, I am not a celebritologist, but I gather this is real.  I do think that most celebs present a carefully crafted image to the world that might be nothing like who they really are.  Like that guy who played the childnapper in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kind of got forever known for that persona, and was the nicest man on Earth. 

Did you see this? What an idiot. 

I know!  It's spectacular.   I was going to say I felt a twinge of sympathy because, in a book reading, I pronounced leviathan as lev-ee-AY-than.  But no.  This is Yosemite. 

The scariest parts of that interview to me were the two pages Trump was holding in his hands. Those covid charts were huge, like something out of an elementary school textbook, and it was obvious he couldn't make heads or tails of them. Horrifying.

Yeah, and they didn't seem to have words on them!  Like he couldn't read words. 

When you check the list of acceptable words from the previous day, how often do you smack yourself and say "How did I miss that", and how often do you say "That's a word"? Because that happens to me every day.

Both happen to us nearly every day.  (I do it with Rachel.). The only time it doesn't happen is when we have achieved Queen. 

How do you define "The Midwest" of America? I'm originally from Michigan and my personal, completely indefensible and absolutely correct definition is that it is the states which border a Great Lake but not the Atlantic. It includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It DOES NOT include any of the plains states like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas or Oklahoma (!?), nor the Dakotas. Alternatively, I am willing to contemplate including any state where the dominant name for a non-alcoholic carbonated beverage is "pop". Your thoughts?

Your definition is the only correct one.  I lived in Lansing for two years. 

You have to share control of the TV and thermostat.

But you do that when married, too. 

It's going to Harris, right? Like all this talk about her being "ambitious" is generating sympathetic takes and getting the left to forget she is an Establishment figure.

I am not at all sure of that.  It would make Biden look magnanimous, because she was his most vocal critic.  But she was a prosecutor in a time when prosecutors have some baggage.  I'm for whoever he chooses, of course.  

In October 2019, Biden tweeted the country was not prepared for a pandemic. We live every day with the reality of that statement. In April 2020, Biden tweeted Trump may try to delay the election. And last week, Trump brought up that possibility. Can Biden tweet us something useful, like next week's lotto numbers?

Or the results of the election, just to ease people's minds. 

"plan the Covid testing strategy" committee really decided not to have one at all because, at the time, the virus was only causing mayhem in blue states like New York, New Jersey, Washington and California, Jared and Ivanka are not going to be able to live in NYC again, ever. They will get fragged. It is plausible that a NY state prosecutor would indict him for negligent homicide. None of their supposed friends will ever speak to them again. I wouldn't be surprised if a synagogue asked them to stay away (once houses of worship can open) because of the trauma the sight of him might impose on members of the congregation who lost loved ones. Members of the Trump administration haven't paid much socially for their actions. A few people getting kicked out of restaurants is trivial. This has the potential to be long lasting and significant. I wonder if they will want to move to Arkansas?

The hemorrhage of horror from this administration is a firehose.  I suspect this will be forgotten.  It might already have been forgotten.  New depredations await. 

Last week, you mentioned Rachel's nephew was born the day before election day 2016. I'm one of those who was in tears the day after election day, and many days since. Until COVID, my life was largely unchanged by this presidency, but I weep for the children separated at the border and the long term implications this evil man's actions will have for years to come. I am due to give birth the day after election day this year (my husband and I have already requested absentee ballots!). If the baby is like his older sibling, he will be right on time. I have half-jokingly told people not to tell me the results of the election until the baby is here. But now I can't decide- if people don't tell me anything, I think I will assume the worst. Part of me thinks that if he is reelected, I won't have the same soul-crushing despair because part of my soul hasn't recovered. Now I don't know what to do. Would you want to know the results if you were having a life-altering experience the next day?

I always believe in Knowing.  In your case, it is a crapshoot.  You want to know if Biden wins, not if Trump wins.  But the issue will probably not come up.  Because of mail-ins, we almost certainly won't know for sure on election day. 

Had to look it up. I hope he gets more than aggravation. What's Yiddish for "prison?"

Tsuris.   Tsuris is Yiddish for anything bad.   It is ironic.  Death is tsuris. 

does mere fornication -- having sex without being married -- count?

No, that is simply sinning.   Sinner. 

I recently ran into an acquaintance who explained that she was very panicky about the virus until about May when her husband was able to convince her they couldn't put "living their lives" on hold. She gestured to her teenager and said, "It isn't fair that she can't be in school." I'm worried that instead of blaming Trump for the criminal mishandling of this virus and voting against him because of it, people who have quarantine fatigue will be voting FOR Trump because he's the one who is advocating for their teenagers to participate in in-person high school. What is the best way to bang the drum and remind people that their kids could BE in school if we'd had better/different leadership in the beginning of this pandemic and that keeping SCROTUS in power (and thereby defeating the liberals who are forcing mask-wearing and social distancing upon us) is a backwards move?

Polls suggest not many parents feel like your idiot acquaintance does. Losing a year of school is way better than losing your life, or your parents' lives. 

Judging by divorce statistics, marriage isn't always such a great deal either. But the difference is that marriage is a deliberate commitment to a better future. Living together is "ah, whatever."

Tell that to couples who have lived together for 40 years. 

Actually takes some work. Ive done it for 15 years - with kids. It required attorneys to set up all the things that are automatically part of marriage - death benefits, custody, medical POAs, estate planing etc. At some point getting married would have been cheaper and easier so I am not surprised I don't know more folks in our living in sin camp.

Gotcha. 

Your conservative correspondent says: "Since then (2016,) I've voted nearly a straight-line Democratic ticket in every general election, unless the candidate was uncontested, and then I wrote someone in." Uh, (checks notes,) there's only been one general election since then, right?

No.  There have been 3. 

Can we get our next round of federal stimulus checks made payable to the Biden campaign? That would save time.

Haha. 

Not a 1-percenter, here. Just not paying for day care for two kids because we're stuck at home with them and fortunate to both be able to do our jobs all day at the same time. We're financially far better off, but mentally far worse off.

Yep, me, too.  I also know someone who is saving a lot on cancelled gym and golf fees. 

Gene, I just got your book from my library which is semi-open, and I love it so far. However, I had read the 12:01 am chapter when it was published as an excerpt in the WaPo Magazine, and I found it much more compelling in the book. I don't know why, maybe it works better in the context of the book, or reading on a screen isn't as compelling as a physical book. (I'm nearly 50 so have a slight preference for hard copy.) Anyway, thanks for the book. I'm enjoying it. You clearly put a lot of work into it. (500 interviews!)

I doubt if this explains it, but there are a couple of compelling things in that chapter that were removed from the Post story for good but complex reasons.   I removed them, not The Post.    

My mother grew up in Missouri and when she moved to New York state she was confused when she ordered a soda and it didn't have ice cream in it. Where she lived in Missouri (Warrensburg) if you wanted plain soda you called it pop. Soda meant ice cream soda. So does Missouri get into the Midwest? And my two years in Iowa sure felt midwestern. Another sign of midwest- pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Missouri is not midwest.  Sorry.  I don't know what it is, though.  Because it is next to Kansas, I guess it is SquareeStateVille. 

What was up with the photo of Liberty U president Jerry Falwell with his shorts unzipped and a woman who was not his wife?

I don't know but it was spectacular, and HE posted it.  Her shorts were unzipped too.  Then took it down.  Fortunately the Web has an institutional memory.  

They're just like athletic supporters, but they stink more.

Thank you. 

Given Trump's mental deterioration since 2016 and his penchant for lying, I shudder to think of the falsehoods he is going to utter in his three debates with Biden. How are the moderators going to cope with the obvious lies he is sure to utter?

Someone suggested that Biden only agree to debate at all under two conditions:  That Trump release his tax returns, and that Trump agrees to a real-time fact assessment panel. 

You are an idiot, and so is Gene. I also spent a lot of my childhood in East Lansing, and the Midwest starts in Ohio and includes Iowa. There is also the Upper Midwest, as in Wisconsin and Minnesota. But to say that Iowa is not in the Midwest is idiotic.

Yeah, that is true.  I misspoke.  Iowa, Ohio, and Indiana. 

Have you noticed the trend on all the food blogs where every recipe now has to include a 2000 word narrative before getting to the actual recipe? What gives? Is this just to increase some page view stat for adverstisers?

I may be overstressing it but from two recent views of the President, he seems to be dragging his left foot. I don't know if this is indicative of anything but you might have some idea.

It's his right leg.   It's subtle. 

Medically, it's called "foot drop" and it can be caused by nerve malfunction that can be serious or minor. 

And yes, it can signal a stroke.  Or (ready, chatters?) Charcot Marie Tooth disease.    Or leprosy. 

So we don't know and -- seriously -- I don't want to speculate.  

He is entirely transactional, isn't he? Ghislaine Maxwell: he "wishes her well". John Lewis: "didn't come to my inauguration". HE CAN MUSTER MORE SYMPATHY FOR AN ACCUSED RAPIST THAN A CIVIL RIGHTS ICON. Sorry for shouting.

Understood. 

I'm one of the top 1% (of your black readers). I never used to think I was smarter than anyone until this administration. Now, I *know* I'm smarter than a good chunk of the rest of the country. Gene, what are we going to do if Biden wins but Trump won't leave office? If we storm the streets, would it even matter??

Honestly, I don't think that will be a problem.  The Supreme Court is politically biased, and badly so, but I don't think, in the aggregate, they are criminals.  Mr. Trump will be escorted from the White House by men with guns. 

I'm often perplexed by your separating polls into liberal and conservative responses. I sometimes do both polls. I like to believe that I embrace the best concepts of both Liberal and Conservative ideals, though not in a partisan or political sense. What is liberal about shouting down speakers on college campuses or refusing to listen to viewpoints other than your own? What is conservative about increasing our national debt to unsustainable levels or shunning alliances and institutions that have kept us out of a world war for over 70 years?

Understood.  Taking both is reasonable. 

I'm with you on "mike." Would you say someone is "miked up" or "miced up"?

Good question! 

I was one of the few chatters who said that the pandemic has been really bad financially. Thought I’d explain. My husband is a petroleum engineer and he spent the past six years working for a national oil company in the Middle East. The pay was great but the work environment was toxic. He put in his notice at the start of the year and we moved home to the States with no job, but excellent prospects. All those have disappeared. We’ll be fine. We saved enough to live on for several years. But this is not the reentry we were wanting, and the job market is pretty awful, even for an engineer with an MBA.

And yet, as you say, you are lucky. 

I know you hate my posts because you never post them! Or maybe you just hate me, that's what it is. Look, I don't mean to pick on the media, for the most part the MSM does a good job. But sometimes, man, this addiction to falling for Trump's distraction tactics makes me insane. Last week, Trump tweeted about postponing the election. Everyone recognized this for the BS it was, many columnists wrote that it was a distraction. Yet, it has received almost wall to wall coverage for the whole week. What makes it worse is that Trump KNOWS the media will fall for the distraction. In his coronavirus briefing, where the big news was number of cases, number of deaths and new economic numbers in the tank, the very first question was about cancelling the election. He got to riff for 5 minutes about a rigged election and held up articles (with no context) to prove his point. Which means he KNEW someone was going to ask that question instead of questions about the economy, calling out his bogus stats that he was reciting, his executive orders on suburban housing, feds running amok on Portland and a whole host of more important things than this. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. President says something about cancelling an election and that's NEWS! And someone has to ask! No, they don't. It's not news, it's bullsh*t. By the time of his briefing, all the Republican leaders had been asked about postponing and they already shut it down. End of story. This scenario is no different than Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown: Trump sets it up and we know exactly what's going to happen.

I mostly agree with you, but it was still illuminating.  That a president would even voice that idea. 

If I may suggest an additional poll question? It would be interesting to know how many followers of the chat live in the DC metro area, other major metros and where the rest of folks live. I wonder this specifically bc of my mild surprise at the high incomes reported.

Good idea!  Future question. 

If you consider yourself morally/ethically superior to most, you aren't.

Valid point. 

From the discussion of men's hair from last week. My husband is in his 60s. A year ago he grew his hair to about shoulder length. It's gotten extra during quarantine. It is slightly puffy, silvery white, and gorgeous. He does take sh++ for it from his coworkers and friends, who call him a hippie (??) and tell him to cut it. He says the most effective defense to that busybody nonsense is, "My wife likes it." (Baffling. I would never tell my friends I was doing something with my appearance bc my husband "liked it", even if that were true. It's not. My unusual appearance is strictly my own doing). Anecdotally, we were walking into a drug store the other day when a stranger, somewhat my husband's senior, was walking in from the opposite direction. This man (true story) yelled out to my husband, "Get a haircut!" Husband laughed and pointed at me - "Ask my wife about that. She loves it!" Stranger promptly apologized, making a dumb jokey comment about pleasing your wife. Fascinating to see this dynamic in action.

He was too kind.  I would have answered "Get a life."

Viewing the data at 9:30 with 592 responses, it appears your target audience is almost all old, white, financially stable liberals who are generally satisfied with their genitalia.

Yeah.  The only part of that that DOESN'T make me concerned is the comfort with one's genitalia. 

Come on. Really? Instead of being funny, that question felt invasive. And seemed like a question Lisbeth's guardian would have asked her in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. EW! I am curious about one thing: How many people didn't answer that last question, compared with other questions in the poll? That would be another interesting result to know.

I don't think the metrics can show that, but if it did skeeve out people, I apologize.  To me, the anonymity of this thing makes almost anything okay.   Am I wrong?

I'm surprised by the person who said last week that using the formulation "needs repaired" is pretentious - because to me, it's one of the unfortunate quirks of Pittsburghese. It's very common here to say "the car needs washed" instead of "needs to be..." or "needs washing." I've lived here for almost 13 years, and it still sounds awful to my ear. The other oddity? Using "whenever" instead of "when." As in, "whenever I graduated from high school," or "whenever my mother died..." (These things happened multiple times?!)

Wow.  That whenever thing seems particularly weird.  Whatever.  

It appears that Trump no longer cares about courting undecided or moderate voters. He's going all in on the racists, bigots, and morally bankrupt. The question is, are there enough of these people in our country to re-elect him now, knowing full well what he is? I fear that the answer is...maybe? It's hard for a pessimist to underestimate the awfulness of other human beings, but I think I may have. Every day I read about terrible and blatantly horrible things that people do to other people. And I cannot fathom how they can do it. Yet, it persists. I hope there's a way for us as a country to come back from this, but I worry about if we can't.

I am a pessimist too, but I think 150,000 corpses say we will throw him out.    

I found this poll question the most difficult to answer because it is the one I have thought about the least previously. Until today, I have never contemplated the level of attractiveness of my female genitalia probably because it is hard to see without contortions and mirrors. No, I didn't bother looking, but I will have to ask my wife her opinion on it when she gets home. Also, I am one of the (very) few people of color who took the poll. How do you feel about your audience being overwhelmingly Caucasian?

I am very bothered by it.   I don't know what to do about it.   I am me, and if I am repelling people of color it deeply concerns me.  Open to ideas. 

Did you see that the Great Zucchini was mentioned in this Politico article, and that they link to your piece on him? 

I did.  It was a really inspired idea to contact him.  

If Trump is not re-elected, will a bunch of people pony up money and create a Presidential Library for him? (So ironic since the man doesn't read. Or can't read, depending on your POV ). Will he sit for a WH portrait? Does he have the patience for that? If so, what will President Biden do for the unveiling ceremony: handle it the same way Trump handled Obama's or turn the other cheek and invite the criminal back to the WH? Stuff I wonder about.

The portrait thing is interesting.  Obama let it leak that he would not attend any portrait unveiling as long as Trump was in the WH, and then Trump said there would be no unveiling.  So it was an act of mutual contempt. 

Yeah, there will be a library.  Trump has rich sycophants. 

. . . was not a part of my childhood. To what I imagine was the same tune, we sang:

There goes [insert another child's name here -- it scans better if it's a two syllable name]

floatin' down the Delaware

Chewin' on his underwear

Couldn't afford another pair

Ten days later, eaten by a polar bear

Poor old polar bear

Imagine my shock.  There are 600,000 google hits for this.  The official version seems to be "chewin' dirty underwear," which makes more sense. 

your poll options didn't seem to account for people living with someone who's not a romantic partner, so I said single alone, though I don't live alone. You do understand there are more configurations than married/living in sin/alone, yeah?

Yeah, I sort of screwed up there, but you made the right choice.  A group house is a separate category, though I do consider it closest to  "living alone."  

Everyone on the list is impressive and qualified and Trump and friends will say racist and sexist things about her. They all have more important work to do elsewhere.

I'm a little conflicted there.   As I have said ad nauseam, to me there is one goal only, and so I am in favor of whichever woman gives the ticket the best chance to win.  But also, wal, Biden is an old man.  You ALSO want someone who would be the best president.  These two criteria may not perfectly overlap.  I haven't heard any names that concern me unduly though I do feel Susan Rice comes with Benghazi Baggage, which would be a good name for a rock band.   Benghazi is an idiot issue, but there are idiots out there. 

This is roughly the share of voting public waiting to make up its mind. Trump seems to have decided to go all-in on one gambit: That he will run Biden into the ground in a debate. This is what will turn a pretty bad loss into an historic landslide. Because quite simply, and unfathomably, Trump has set an incredibly low bar for Biden. All Biden has to do...is speak semi-cohertly. And he will do that just fine. He will whomp Trump in the first debate. Trump will back out. The numbers will flow to full blowout.

Not sure what you mean by "Trump will back out," but I agree with your assessment.  I also think the media interrogators will be less willing to have Trump bluster and change the topic and lie with impunity.  We are on to him. 

Have you watched? Does it bother you? I find I can't enjoy it. The effort looks like a parody of a zombie film: the last 18 men alive play nine innings for no reason. And in the end it's probably going to be futile, yes? A few more outbreaks and the season will be cancelled. It just makes the effort seem sad.

I can watch it and tune that out.   I do believe that the season will be canceled, and I do cringe how that will overjoy Yankees haters.  Because this may be the best Yankees team of all time.  Which is saying a lot. 

I live in sin with my partner. Much to his mother’s chagrin. Much to my mother’s approval. My partner was once married to a horrible, wretched woman. They divorced and he met me. The first person he dated after the divorce. I don’t know if he doesn’t want to get married because of his prior experience or if he feels like it’s too soon. I don’t care either way. But the fact that we live together keeps me from being the spinster I used to be before we met.

In the absence of children, I don't see why people actually get married anymore.  There are legal considerations, but I think contracts can get around them.  Are there still significant financial incentives?

When Trump says something like "I have done more for Black people than John Lewis" to an interviewer or to the White House briefing room, is it okay for a journalist to followup and ask a question like "what color is the sky in your world?" Would that get a WP correspondent reassigned?

Probably, but that is changing.  Just read the op-eds.   

Ooh, ooh! Can his ailment be leprosy?? For such a plague-ridden despot, something that biblical seems fitting.

Alas, there is a very good treatment.  There are no more lepers in Westernized countries. 

It's mic'd up. The apostrophe indicates that the letters "rophone" have been removed. If you are mic'd up, the end of your microphone cord has been inserted into a jack labeled MIC.

Thank you. 

Whatever the geographical placement, Iowa's governor and staunch Trump adherent, Kim Reynolds has totally botched handling the pandemic. (Her approval rating for the pandemic management is 28%.) She never shut down the state, never called for masks to be worn, just said that "Iowans would behave responsibly." Now she has mandated that schools be opened and in class sessions be held 50% of the time. Several of the state's largest school districts have defied her and are now being sued by the state. Meanwhile, this state of less than 3M has 45K cases and nearly 1,000 deaths.

The pandemic is killing the Republican Party. 

Thank you all!  We're done, and here is the link to next week's chat.  

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000. He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Writing.

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