Chatological Humor with Gene Weingarten

Jul 07, 2020

You asked for it and you got it. Gene holds weekly mini-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 are this week's polls.

I lean conservative

I lean liberal

Good afternoon. 

We are going to begin with the most important topic, my tomatoes.  I have spent the last 20 years trying to grow backyard tomatoes, and failing spectacularly.  I have had years with 8 foot tall plants, and six fruits.  I have had years with fruits that tasted like human earlobes. 

Something amazing has happened this year.   I live in the inner city and plant my tomatoes in pots in the backyard, which sounds doomed (and has, in fact, been doomed for three years).  But this year, possibly because the pandemic resulted in a very late planting, I am Mr. Tomato Genius.   My tomatoes are healthy and enormous and are abundant enough to feed the starving people of the world for years.   I cannot explain this, exactly, but I can brag, which is why I sent this photo and this one to my odious editor, Tom the Butcher, who always out-tomatoes me, but not this year, mofo.  He has to eat these photos, so to speak.

Okay, that's it. 

--

Next, we move on to the second most important issue the future of the Western world. 

I have decided something.  It is linked to today's poll.  I have not thought this before, and not expressed it, and I am sure it is not original to me, but here it comes. 

I have decided that at this moment in time, Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Satan, maybe the best possible candidate, and not because he is, necessarily, the most qualified, the most noble, the wisest, or whatever.  He is flawed. 

But we are at a weird point in American history, a point I would call an "inflection point" if I were even more of a hack than I am.  We are in the middle of passion.  Things are happening that are seemingly out of control.  People of conscience are allowed to feel scared.   That feeling is not without merit. 

Americans are gathering as mobs to wrestle statues to the ground and throw them in rivers.  I am not speaking against this -- it is understandable -- but it is alarming.  We are not a nation of vigilantes.  It seems disturbingly savage.  Out of control.  Mob rule.   Third world, in a bad sense.   These are perceptions, not facts, but they cannot be ignored.  They are also a political tool.  Trump is using them.  He is desperate, and this rings a little true.   Do you want rule of law, or mob rule?  Do you want thoughts to be outlawed?  

So.  I think "Pocahontas," or Bernie, or really almost every other potential candidate would have been subject to this crap.  Vulnerable.  Joe Biden is not.  Rightly or wrongly, he is perceived as a blue collar guy, a fella, pretty conservative considering he is a Democratic pinko.  I cannot get out of my mind a conversation I had many years ago with a Post colleague.  I cannot name this person, who I will not identify by gender or ethnicity or height or weight or affinity for tomatoes or anything. 

He or she was a journalist who had spent some time with white, blue collar, not-rich Americans, really getting to know them.  This was in mid-2008, and there was something that stuck with him or her, something horrifying an uplifting at the same time.  People were saying that they were planning to vote for Obama -- whom they referred to in hateful racist language -- but not because they liked him.  They were beaten by the economy, wanted a change, but didn't want that much of a change.  A black guy?  Unthinkable.   But... 

They thought he'd be assassinated within a few months of taking office, and we'd have Biden.  And they grudgingly liked Biden.  They thought of him as one of them. 

I think this is the guy who tears through Trump's last possible attack. 

One more thought: I think the best thing that has happened, in terms of this upcoming election, is that Trump has been so bad.  Gargantuanly incompetent.   An evil, ignorant fool.  What if he had been merely ... bad?   Is the country good and smart enough to have punished that with a historic defeat?  I think not. 

Take the poll.  We start at noon sharp. 

As a professional wordsmith, what’s your take on recent attempts to scrub the English language of words or terms that have (or appear to have) racist connotations? I’m thinking specifically of master bedrooms and a car’s master/slave brake cylinders, but there are others. To me I think saying “hey, we’re not using the word ‘master’ any more, that means we’re no longer racist” is a superficial solution chosen because it’s an easy way to feel like the problem is all gone while avoiding confronting the real issues. Plus, it leaves the language a little bit poorer. But maybe I’m not looking at it the right way.

I agree with you.  It is a way for white people to feel they are doing something, when they are in fact (through this sort of thing) doing next to nothing.  Let's not deal with this nonsense.  Let's bring health care for black people up to the standards of health care for white people.  For example. 

What is wrong with me? I am becoming increasingly intolerant of acquaintances that tolerate Trump. What should I do?....Don

You should leave them alone and do everything you can to get like minded friends and relatives to vote in November.  Then you should take quiet joy in your acquaintances' discomfort.  And you should take particular joy in the devastation that will have been wrought on the public enablers: The Republican buttlicking sycophantic Trump apologists, the disgraceful extended nepotism-soaking Trump family, and, maybe mostly, the fringe media crew who have been marinating  in their own  subtle bigotry and xenophobia and Trump idolatry -- yeah, @Newsbusters, but they are tiresome old hacks, but also supposed idealistic righty youths like the crew at The Federalist, including Mollie Z. Hemingway and (no relation, I swear) Benjamin Weingarten, whose crabbed, reactionary prose helps inform bigots -- and rejoice.  

Am I being too strong?

I do want the Trumps to wind up without a cent.  I want Ivanka to have to take a real job.   Working with actual people, doing things.  For $27.50 an hour.  

What do you think the new team name should be? Washington Pigskins? Washington Lobbyists? Washington Scandals? Washington Posts?

It is a tragically little-remembered fact that the very first contest offered by The Style Invitational, back in March 1993, was to rename the Redskins.   Here it is.   The entries are still good.   And I still think the unfunny but brilliant suggestion by Hank Wallace should be adopted: The Washington Clout. 

I do need to point out that the winner of the contest, Douglas R. Miller, never submitted an entry again.  He wanted to retire undefeated. 

I do not admit to having been the Czar, but I did sleep with his wife, and I know him intimately, and can tell you that he loves you all. 

Here was the challenge. 

And here were the results. 

I hate to say this, but a Biden presidency is going to be a total custer-fluck of never ending Republican retribution (egged on, of course, by the forgotten and downtrodden Trumptroopers), despite the fact that Trump earned every one of his investigations, and Biden will surely not. I don't think that we'll ever get back to political "normalcy" until we get another Republican president. That person MUST be of moderate ideology and temperate disposition if we have any hope of bringing our country back together and regain the dignity that we have certainly lost on the world stage. The problem is that I cannot think of a single Republican who would be able to do that. I think we're doomed.

I am not sure there will still be a Republican party.  They have disgraced themselves monstrously.  Hey, I will suggest to the Empress a new Style Invitational contest: Name the party that replaces the GOP. 

To extend your last thought, where would the political race be if COVID-19 did not arise? Trump's utter incompetence would not be on such display against something that is so clearly apolitical. I like to think he'd still be loosing (and eventually loose) reelection. We probably wouldn't have this BLM moment. And I don't think the Senate would be as likely to flip.

There is something deeply disturbing about your question, two things actually, and I refuse to answer it. 

Got to beat them up. I planted tomatoes. Even in a window / balcony box in Vietnam when my wife and I were in Bien Hoa in the mid 70's. Great plants and no fruit. Later on in Texas they told me to beat the plants and I did not believe them. But when storms did the work for us, we got lots of fruit. In my opinion, that is the secret. (And pollination)

You mean flick them?

I didn't really like him as VP or as the potential nominee in 2016. However, he now seems like the only grown up in the room and a chance to restore some decorum to the Presidency. I also think his commitment to choosing a woman VP is a very big plus in his favor.

The best guy.  We lucked out. 

Can you please explain "uplifting" in that context? That's just horrifying to me. "I'm gonna vote for the [slur] 'cause he'll be killed and replaced by the old white guy" is...uplifting?

I believe it is why Obama was elected.  And I think Obama was a terrific president. 

Biden will be a "caretaker" government, which is what we need. Nothing outrageous, but a "radical return to sanity." His choice of VP is critical, because that's who'll be running in 2024.

Agreed.  

Every time someone utters "all lives matter," I can't help but see in their thought bubble, the phrase "but some more than others" in very, very small print. When someone like Pence says "all lives matter" and refusing to say "black lives matter," his deliberate word choices cannot be anything other than a poorly coded message to like-minded people. It would be nice for a reporter to corner VP Pence again, but this time, asking him to say "all lives matter, equally." There is no wiggle room there. That one word, in my opinion, makes all the difference in the world.

The fundamental dishonesty of "All Lives Matter" is so manifest it doesn't really require explanation, but just by way of example:

Imagine if, in 1859, there was a movement called "End Slavery."  And people started reacting to that by saying, "End Cruelty to People of all Colors."

You know?  We'd know who those people were.  The same people who, in 1970, protested they were color blind:  "I don't care if you are black, white, green, orange or purple..."

As Rachel said the other day, "Wait a minute.  I might care if you are purple."

 

The calendar you provided a link to shows February with 29 days. For 2013 that would be an impossibility. Leap years occur 4 years apart and only on even years. Leap day was in 2012.

I am going to investigate this.  I am very troubled.  I might have a mistake in my book. 

He told us two weeks ago that he was having eye surgery. Not only has he not chatted since then, but I haven't seen any articles by him in the paper. Do you have any knowledge about his condition? WP sports fans are curious and concerned.

Just talked to Bos, who is a good friend.  He's fine.  His response:

 

Had surgery for retinal detachment (R eye) after surgery on L eye for macular pucker. Both successful. No long-term issues expected. Eyes just need some time to heal. 

Merriam-Webster has added 'irregardless' to their dictionary (so far the OED has not). I wouldn't say English is dead, because M-W is American English, but as spoken here the language is definitely on the ropes. Thoughts?

I believe in the life of language.  Enough idiots say irregardless that it needs to be recognized as language.  Language is in the control of idiots, though. 

this farce of a season they are trying to shoehorn in is just not going to happen, is it?

I'd guess no.   If it starts, it will end with the first player death.  Sorry to put it so bluntly, but. 

I'm heartened that, as of this writing, only 13% of Weingarten conservatives plan to vote for Trump. Even though these conservatives (of which I am one) are probably not Trump's base, this must bode well for Biden's chances.

I love these poll results. 

I think it is possible this election will be the greatest bloodbath in history. 

I chose "old/senile" because it was the closest answer to this: I think the biggest obstacle to Biden's election is his calm demeanor. For people craving an alternative to Trump, this makes Biden a perfect candidate. I, for one, legitimately like Joe Biden and I'm happy to vote for him. But if we're talking about the need to stoke enthusiasm for his candidacy in order to drive up turnout, particularly among people who aren't hard-core, see-you-at-every-election voters, then Biden's bland, white-bread demeanor is a serious drawback.

I think it may be his greatest strength.   The polar opposites are set.   Unmovable.    There is a vast middle ground, and biden's blandness wins them. 

To my thinking, a bigger liability for Biden is his long-lasting political career: he’s very much an insider. We are suffering daily from the effects of having a president who, among the least of his flaws, is a political novice, but that outsider status has powerful appeal to a lot of people. (Not me.)

I would argue, based on the thesis of my intro, that this is currently a plus.  No one is going to vote for Trump because Biden is an insider.   But many people will take comfort from that.  He's not a bomb-thrower. 

On Primary Day in Virginia, a white dude saw my "I voted" sticker while I was getting gas (no one I know) and asked if I voted for Biden. I responded that I had voted for Warren and explained that my faith votes for compassion in the form of progressive politics. I'm as progressive as Bernie Sanders, but he is too divisive. Also, it's time for a woman to be president. Thus, Warren. I ended by saying, Biden's okay. I'll vote for him in November." I didn't say that I knew Warren had no chance, but I knew it. I was trying to tell the Democratic Party of Virginia that I like compassionate, progressive policies, but in a way that still allowed Biden to win the nomination. I like Bernie's policies, but he is not the right person for the job.

Totally agree. 

Couldn't help but notice "I lean conservative" is in smaller font than "I lean liberal". What are you trying to say?

Nothing!  It was some sort of technical error, but when I saw it I laughed and decided to keep it. 

Hey we have a new chat producer who -- unlike every former chat producer -- has asked for anonymity.   He or she or it or them will henceforth be called "Mystery Producer."  You will not hear from them.  But they are very competent and opinionated. 

Of course we should do more than superficial language changes. But words and phrases like "master bedroom" etc. are indicative of how pervasive the systemic inequities are. That we use these words without even thinking about their implications.

I don't want to fight you on this, but I don't look at "master bedroom" and think, slavery.   

I always liked the saying of lesser-known '70's rocker Captain Beefheart, who said "Everyone's colored, or else you wouldn't be able to see them."

I like that! 

From Alex Petri's chat, go to https://www.thefarside.com/ and click on Enter if you Dare, where he explains the new work. Then click on Enter. Made me day to see Far Side again.

Okay, I am suspicious.  That middle one is definitely old.  20 years old. 

I first voted in 1984. At the time, red was generally the color of Democrats and blue the color of Republicans. Thus, when Tim Russert confusingly codified red as Republican and blue as Democrat, I never quite internalized it and always had to pause to be sure I understood what is meant by "red" and "blue". Until now. With Trump's embracing all things Russian, finally, at last, red=Republican makes sense. Russert wasn't bucking convention; he was prognosticating.

I actually think it dates to political maps.  Please read this column.  It might be my favorite column.  Of my own. 

 

IF the season happens as scheduled - no deaths, everyone plays 60 games, playoffs, and World Series - do you think the champ is a legitimate one? How about if it's the Yankees or the Nationals?

No.  I have no enthusiasm for this season.  If the Yanks have a 47-13 season I will not think, whoa, the best team ever. 

Just leaving this aptonym here.

Thank you. 

While I fervently hope you are correct, I can't help but remember they laughed at Hitler too, and that all the polls showed Hillary in a landslide. There are a lot of idiots out there. I am not nearly as confident as you seem to be. The average American voter is an ass.

The polls did not actually show Hillary in a landslide.  They actually showed that Trump had a one in three chance. 

That's like the chance of Ty Cobb getting a hit in an at bat?  You gonna bet your house on that?

What I also want to know is how many GOP Senators, Representatives, Governors, et al., Trump will take down with him.

A huge number.  I am hoping in particular for McConnell.  And that lady in Maine.  There has to be payback. 

I was watching CNN's 1968 the other night, when candidate Richard Nixon appealed to "the silent center" as the law and order candidate in that tumultuous time. By the following year, during a televised speech, this had been edited to "the silent majority" that many of us remember from back in the day. While googling about this, I learned a little factoid. In the 19th century, the silent majority referred to the dead. No question really, I just found this interesting.

it is! 

West is a Trump supporter. Any bets that his presidential run is just a ploy to siphon young black voters away from Joe? Do you think it'll work?

No question, and no.   Black people in the aggregate are very savvy voters.  You think they won't see through this? 

Also, and I could be wrong, I think Kanye is more popular with white people than black people. 

I have enjoyed very much watching the Trump campaign focus test their memes and messaging, trying to find something that will stick to Joe Biden without sticking to their guy. Occasionally incoherent? Old and forgetful? Poor personal boundaries? The base and the bots will share all of the above, and it comes in waves as the campaign tries to find something that will catch fire, and so far, nothing has.

Everything they've tried is simply not breaking out of the conservative echo chamber into the mainstream. My Trumpy relatives won't share this stuff on their feeds because literally everyone who isn't too far gone just...laughs.

But I am concerned. By July I'm used to seeing bumper stickers and signs for candidates, and one of the ways I knew Clinton was in trouble in 2016 was because there were no signs at all in a liberal, educated conclave in October, let alone July. No excitement. Obama signs and stickers were widespread by July in 2008. I haven't seen a Biden car magnet yet.

I think the Biden Bunch are being smart.  Let the schmuck kill himself first. 

I had car trouble while driving to work on Friday and had to take the car to our usual garage after horrible screeching sounds and something falling off that stopped the sounds. They fixed the problem and also did an oil change, which was about to be overdue. This morning (Monday), the "Maintenance Required" light came on while I was commuting. That was maddening because I knew the car thought it needed an oil change that it had just had. How to fix it?

The light was going to drive me crazy if it stayed on even though I knew why. The longer you see it, doubt seeps in about whether you really know the underlying cause. Here's the text of an email I just sent my wife about this. I think you could do a column with this concept, which I gift to you. My attempt at it is below but yours would be much better. You need to know that this car's name is Bertha. My wife names our cars. She came up with Bertha because Bertha is an SUV and "Big Bertha" seemed fitting because she's big, for us at least.

Here's my attempt at the concept (my wife responded saying I have "obviously been watching too much SciFi): IT came this morning on the George Washington Parkway while driving in. IT was full on, no longer flashing a couple of times immediately after starting and going out, as before. IT glared at me unblinkingly with yellow fire. Something had to be done to stave off the madness that would inevitably ensue if IT continued to burn into ITSELF my brain while driving. I sent a prayer to Skyline Automotive through the VoIP [“V,” “O” as in Oscar, “EYE” (not “EL”), “P”).

My prayer was answered. Rather than requiring me to return Bertha to their temple for an exorcism, one of the high priests initiated me into the sacred secrets of the ritual. If I could perform each step precisely, and in the right order while Bertha slept, the Beast might be vanquished.

Armed with my COVID key, office badge, and my newfound knowledge of The Mysteries, I descended twelve floors to the ground, and then four more into the depths of the earth, where poor possessed Bertha awaited me on P3. The parking lot attendant sat in his booth, ignorant of the sleeping Beast and the spell I was to attempt to cast to vanquish IT. Bertha trembled as I turned her on.

“Be still my child, it will be over soon,” I said, hoping for the best or, at least, not for the worst.

1. I pushed the trip odometer button several times, until Bertha displayed the odometer reading rather than a trip reading.

2. I turned her off, and she was silent as I prepared to perform the Procedure.

3. I held down the trip odometer button, while turning the key two clicks (to the “accessory” setting, just before the point where the engine turns over).

4. Suddenly, the odometer reading no longer appeared. Instead, there was a series of dashes: ------

5. And then there were fewer dashes: -----

6. Presently, still fewer: ---- Might there be a pattern of some kind? If only I could understand the Oracle’s message.

7. ---

8. --

9. - Oh crap. Maybe this is a count-down. IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP.

10. And then there was nothing. No numbers. No dashes, only blankness where the odometer reading should have been. On the other hand, Bertha and I were still there, which seemed like a good sign. I returned the key to the off position. I took a breath. I turned the key all the way, to full ignition. Bertha trembled again, and all of the lights came on, including the “Maintenance Required” light, as it normally does when the car first starts. I held my breath, waiting to see what would happen next.

And then it was gone! The Beast has been vanquished. (For now, at least. We all know IT will return. Such is the cycle of life and oil changes.) I locked Bertha and walked to the elevator to escape the bowels of the Earth and ascend to my office high above. The parking lot attendant never looked up.

I published this because I hate all chatters. 

The bad news: "Research shows that couples who are mismatched when it comes to physical attractiveness are more likely to split up, according to Madeleine Fugère, a professor of Social Psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University." The good news:"So why do women date men who are not as attractive as them? Fugère and her team believe a partner’s intelligence, wealth and wit may play a part." 

I have no idea why you are sending this to me. 

will have to do one thing to earn my vote... He will need to take in oxygen, and expel carbon dioxide.

Understood. 

They should hold off a little while. Both the 'Skins and the Post will have to call themselves "Capital Region" or something pretty soon anyway. Can't use Washington or Columbia any more, according to people who like to riot.

Washington will probably remain okay. 

Only 48 more days until the Republican National Convention! In Jacksonville! I can hardly wait! Do you think Melania will give a speech? The SAME speech?

I think she will probably talk about "the better angels of our nature."

I occasionally join a group of folks who all share an interest in a common outdoor activity. There is a woman who is probably 15 to 20 years older than me who I have always enjoyed talking with, and she has always struck me as a good person.

However, in the past couple of months, I have come to realize thanks to social media that she is one of those people who believes all of the nonsense and fake news that the conservative media feed people. She believes the conspiracy theories, and after a counter-protest at a BLM event last week that turned violent, she is planning to join another similar counter-protest next week.

There is a lot of hate coming out in the conservative state where I live, and she seems to be aligning herself with it. I just cannot believe this is the same woman I have gotten to know on many previous occasions. The other folks in the group seem to still talk to her and spend time with her, although they do call her out on social media. I haven't had a chance to talk with anyone else in the group about it, but I would like to get the perspective from someone who knows her better. What should I do with this information?

Nothing. 

The Rand Institute got a loan from the evil government - have they no shame? But it's ok, churches apparently got $10 BILLION, but not to worry, they'll pay it back with the taxes they . . . oppsies on me. Guess Pat Mahomes doesn't need any loan money. Are we having fun yet?

This story, about who the Trump admin gave money to, is huge and I believe it has legs.   Elaine Chao's family?  Grover Norquist?  Ayn Rand institute?  Devin Nunes winery?  Trump lawyers? Corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. 

On Sunday the latest Hugh Hewitt column was posted on the Post’s web site. In it, Hewitt stated that he was voting for Trump over Biden for the usual conservative reasons.

What made it interesting was that it could have been written months ago as there was no mention of the coronavirus and the political, economic, and social trauma that it has caused. It seemed like a spare column that writers toss in when they have a deadline and writer’s block.

The column has yet to appear in the paper edition which leads me to wonder whether an editor realized that it added little to the current discussion. While this is not a Tom Cotton incident, I wonder how the opinion editors deal with a column and columnist whose writings clearly add nothing to the discussion.

I don't know.  Hated the column. 

His biggest weakness is that he isn't the perfect leader for this historically progressive moment. He has a long history as a moderate and now he has to motivate a left-of-center electorate to get out and vote.

Not a flaw.  A strength.   

Following up on last week’s poll about whether Trump is being persecuted, I wanted to share an email my mother sent me later that day: “I was reading my Bible chapters this morning and it occurred to me that Donald J(ob) Trump is a modern-day Job." (She went on to rhapsodize about his defense of the Confederate flag and "real Americans," but I'll spare you all that.)

My mother is a lifelong, stone-cold racist, but this comparison is so blasphemous that it still managed to shock me. But it probably shouldn't: If there's one thing I learned from growing up in Louisiana, it's how entrenched such views are.

Clearly, you are not a Real American. 

Is there anything Trump can do that will get GOP to stop him, now that he’s caged children, supported the Confederate flag, allowed Russia to attack our troops, and is trying to kill us?

No.   The Republicans have embraced being horrible.  I think they die as a party. 

the preliminary results of the poll suggest that even those who self-identify as leaning conservative are generally pretty liberal.

See, I think otherwise. 

I don't think they are liberal.  I think they are decent human beings. 

How about Demilitarize the Police to replace Defund the Police?

I like it. 

In this age of harebrained conspiracy theories, what is one you think there is some truth to?

None.  I might be among the most virulent conspiracy theory debunker.  The most horrifying involves JFK.  Can anyone out there -- serious question -- come up with a wild-ass conspiracy theory that proved true?  In history?

We did not. We were rescued by African American women who had him as their first choice right from the beginning and never wavered while the rest of us kept looking for the newest shiny object. That is how the Republicans ended up with Trump. Respecting the choice of African American women will have saved us.

I agree.   Women in general, but African American women in particular. 

I think the current generation of culture wars really dates back to Pat Buchanan's horrifying speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention -- about which the late, great humorist Molly Ivins quipped, it "probably sounded better in the original German."

It was the worst thing I heard from a major candidate, until now.  His use of "my friends," in particular. 

Simple. Embrace all those libertarian ethics like legalized drugs and prostitution and legal abortion and gay rights (basically the opposite of every policy they adopted to appease the fundies), throw in some common sense gun laws, and really mean the whole "fiscal responsibility" thing, with more tax dollars taken in and distributed on a state and local level. I might consider voting for them. Let my state progress with it's own money.

May you be proven wrong. 

So we are to get rid of master's degrees and master classes? Let us not be silly.

It's a distraction, IMO.   Don't fall for it. 

I'm reading stories about how badly Trump is trailing in the polls, and they all include a warning that things could change between now and election day. Which, yeah, I get. But then they go on to list things that could change the balance, like Biden could flub a debate, or make a gaffe during an interview. And I have to ask, what possible gaffe could Biden, or anybody, make that made him less viable as a candidate than a racist liar who's more concerned for statues of dead traitors than for the lives of tens of thousands of current Americans? I mean, seriously, is this really the type of election where giving a lame debate answer would make any difference at all?

I know.  I was just thinking this.   WHAT COULD BIDEN POSSIBLY BLURT THAT WOULD BE WORSE THAN TRUMP SAYS DELIBERATELY? 

The Washington GS-15s!

THAT WAS one of the original suggestions! 

According to my diary, December 28, 2013, was a Saturday. I doubt I would have gotten it wrong in my diary!

Yeah, well, that's wrong.  

Also note that Biden almost certainly would have beaten Trump in 2016, as all he would have had to do was switch a few blue collar white votes in key states, which he could have done given his credibility with that demographic, as you note. Unfortunately, however, even if he hadn't been dealing with the death of his son (which made him reluctant to run), I don't see how he would have had a path to the nomination. The sense of "It's HER Turn, Dammit!" was just too strong in the Democratic Party in 2015-16 for him to overcome, even if in hindsight he would have been the ideal choice to take on Trump.

Honestly, hard to parse.   I think the more appropriate analysis is that, politically, he couldnt stand in her way.  By the way, I think Obama will be a huge benefit to Biden's campaign.  I think he's gonna stand behind his guy.  And he's Obama. 

I still maintain that Chat Woman, Liz Kelly Nelson, was the best. She let you write about her RLS and your running battle on what words could or could not appear in the chat.

Chatwoman is a goddess. 

"I am becoming increasingly intolerant of acquaintances that tolerate Trump..." We all tried to give Trump a chance at first, but it was a short honeymoon. Then we tried to give adequate space to the fools who voted for him. Three years later, we are answering every stupidity from every Trumpee. With vigor. With venom. Intolerant? Damn betcha.

This is a valid truth.  It is hard not to hate them, unless they have repented.  As many have. 

It was probably stupid of me, but my vote in the 2008 election was completely decided by the running mates. I really liked McCain, and I thought Obama was too inexperienced to be president (I know, I know, I ain't seen nothing yet, but this was 2008). But then McCain chose the loathsome Palin, and Biden seemed such an old-school, blue-collar Catholic Democrat, really such a perfect choice for Obama's running mate, that I changed my mind and went with Obama.

You are a wise person!  Palin was a complete abdication of responsibility.   I considered it treason.  Still do. 

I am a very rational person. I don't believe in horoscopes, I'll happily sleep on the 13th floor, etc. etc. But I have this stupid little compulsion not to say aloud things that I want to happen. I get a little worried when you say them, too. I'm not talking about getting complacent- I will crawl over a bed of fire to vote in November- just a stupid little superstition I definitely don't believe in but am so hesitant to risk. Do you ever feel that way?

No.  OBVIOUSLY.

Retinal detachment surgery takes a startlingly long time to recover completely from, and the patient needs to take great care to observe the many post-op restrictions.

Yes.  I know.  Bos will be fine.  It's scary, but as always he is being honest.  He'll be fine. 

What, are they chicken? I DARE them to show their face. Come on, you coward - tell us your opinions on VPL and topiary!!!

We can only wait and hope.  More to come. 

Isn't it simultaneously possible for you, an old white guy, to look at this and not think of slavery AND for a Black person to hear this and be reminded of slavery? I mean, I agree that Master bedroom seem innocuous, but Im also white and if the term gets changed, who cares?

Yes, it is possible.  But I am thinking that a black person would not think this a big deal.  I'd like to hear from some. 

So much of Biden's support is that he's not Trump. Whatever his flaws, Trump's are so much worse. But what if it's Biden vs. Pence. I disagree with many of Pence's political policies, but as far as I can tell, he's basically a decent human being. I think a lot of moderate Biden voters might switch to Pence if that were an option.

I think you are a troll.  Probably Russian. 

Pence is a horror. 

You don't have many Trump supporters reading your chats, but there are a few. Of them, I implore any of you to make a case that Trump is will not be disastrous to our country for years to come in ways we can't even imagine. I truly do want to hear any TRY to understand why you think the way you do. Perhaps in an anonymous forum (and not a comment thread), someone could give me some answer more insightful than just the repetition of the words "judges" and "tax cuts."

I do think that's the answer, though.   I have heard it.  "I wish he wouldn't tweet, he sounds so silly, but judges..."

A while back (time has gotten blurry in the pandemic), you and I had a brief exchange about your use of the word, "gyp," in your book. Just curious: Has the current climate invited you to rethink your defense? (This sounds way more argumentative than I intend.)

I think of it like "master bedroom."  Yeah, I guess.  I suppose.  Sure.  You have a right to be offended.  I am moving on. 

I firmly believe Trump deserves prison for a host of things: financial corruption, tampering with the election of 2016, etc. I also believe he has committed treason re the coziness with Pitin and Putin's paying the Taliban to assassinate American soldiers. And should be brought to the International Court in the Hague for crimes against humanity for separating families at the border and then losing track of thousands of children. What do you think the chances are that he will ever see the inside of a courtroom on any of these issues? And if convicted, the inside of a prison?

Zero chance.  

He will, however, be politically and financially humiliated. 

Don't have time to look through my book with every cartoon Larson published right now but I don't remember any of the 3 being in there.

The doorknob one is old.  No question. 

An unfunny but great new name circulating in the airplane-nerd circle is "The Washington Red Tails," named for the Tuskeegee Airmen - African American WW2 fighter pilots who flew airplanes identifiable for having red-painted tails and a reputation for skill and bravery.

I don't mean to respond seriously, but I think the Skins will wind up being called the Warriors, which is boring and lame.  But obvious. 

Teams don't take chances.  The Nationals, an okay name, should have been the Grays.   That would have been genius. 

I have a Homestead Grays cap. 

You may be right that Biden is the best guy to defeat Trump. He's certainly more generally appealing than Bernie. But I also think, though progressives may grouse, that he can achieve more of the progressive agenda that Bernie or Warren would have. Bernie would be yelling at people that we needed Medicare for All, and get little or nothing. Biden could conceivably expand the Obamacare to cover many more people. The fact that he's perceived as a moderate in a time that's calling for radical changes may help him achieve some of those changes, just because they won't seem as scary when backed by him.

Totally agreed. 

There are only 3 new cartoons, and none of them relate to doorknobs. I think you clicked on the wrong place.


Whoa.  Am checking!  Holy crap.  Will report back next week.

And we are done.  Thank you.  Next week.  

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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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