COWERING IN FEAR — Locked in the Basement of Uncertainty

Sunday, November 1st 2020 @ 12:01 PM


Ronald Reagan, right, defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the Election of 1980.

Republican Ronald Reagan, right, defeated President Jimmy Carter in the Election of 1980, after attacking the incumbent for his downbeat whining regarding a “malaise” in America.


Can the 2020 polls be trusted?


By Alan Z. Forman
Jimmy Carter lost the Presidential Election of 1980 by a landslide largely because of what he correctly identified as a “crisis in confidence” in America that became popularly known as his “Malaise Speech.”

Unemployment was rising; inflation had run rampant; interest rates were sky-high… and Amerian hostages had been held in Iran for over a year, as citizens were forced to wait long hours in service station lines and could only fill their cars’ gas tanks on alternate days.

The nation faced a deep “dark winter,” not unlike the one Joe Biden is spreading gloom & doom about right now.

Carter delivered the speech in July 1979 from the Oval Office in the White House after sequestering himself for 10 days at Camp David seeking advice on what to do.

But did America give up? Did the nation cower in fear because the President was shuddering… and shutting-down inside the White House and Camp David? hiding in the basement as it were.

No…. Because a year later Ronald Reagan exemplified a message of supreme confidence and hope, which he rode to an electoral vote landslide that put an end to Jimmy Carter’s ominous message of impending calamity and disaster.

Carter was correct: America was in a malaise. But tragically for him — and us — he failed to comprehend the responsibility of great leaders to shore up confidence among the population, to remind the citizens of the greatest nation ever to exist on the face of the earth that they could overcome any and all adversity simply by thinking positive, acting upbeat, working together to achieve results… even miracles.

Herbert Hoover, left, rides with Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Roosevelt's inauguration as America's 32nd President (March 4, 1933).  FDR defeated Hoover by a landslide after the 31st President failed to deal effectively with the Great Depression.

Herbert Hoover, left, rides with Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Roosevelt’s inauguration as America’s 32nd President (March 4, 1933). FDR defeated Hoover by a landslide after the 31st President failed to deal effectively with the Great Depression. (Can anyone imagine President Trump and soi-disant Presi-dent-Elect Joe Biden riding together like this to the Capitol?)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had conveyed the same message and accomplished the same miracle to bring the U.S. out of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Reagan understood all that. And did it, often quoting FDR, despite their being members of opposing political parties. And Donald Trump, despite whatever we may think of him as a leader and our President, understands and is taking similar political positions right now.

He may be sugarcoating the coronavirus epidemic, to be sure; he may be claiming without evidence that we are rounding the corner on covid; he may be touting a cure before Election Day, a vaccine that will likely not come until the end of the year or even 2021 at best.

He is no doubt saying many things that are not true, as he has similarly done throughout his term of office. But whether one considers him a businessman or politico, he is surely a consummate politician — and all politicians lie. Certainly not as much as President Trump, but they all do it: Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris as well.

What makes this presidential election different from the Hoover-Roosevelt/Carter-Reagan matchups is that the mainstream media in 1932 and 1980 was not out to “get” President Hoover or President Carter, nor was it overtly protective of FDR or Ronald Reagan as challengers.

In both of those elections neither candidate was unfairly loved or hated by the press.

Nor was either censored by a then-nonexistent online social media or mainstream press, as Trump is regularly censored and mistreated now. Neither was Reagan impeached for the Iran-Contra Scandal or for any other bogus reason simply because the opposition didn’t like him.

But Never-Trumpers refuse to concede that the current president has ever done anything good. Not for the economy, not for industry, not for the creation of jobs, not even for making unprecedented strides toward Mideast peace… for which, by the way, his son-in-law deserves the Nobel Prize.

(Like or hate him, Jared Kushner is one of the most effective members of the Trump Administration. His unprecedented successes in the Middle East rival Carter’s Camp David Accords of 1978 and far exceed the Nobel peace “expectations” that were the basis for giving the award to Barack Obama in 2009 before he had even done anything. Obama himself was quoted at the time as saying he had no clue as to why he was given the prize.)


Despite a perceived personal media preference for Carter, he was nonetheless forced to answer tough questions from an unbiased press… a cadre of fair-minded reporters that unfortunately no longer exists in 2020.

There were never any softball “What’s your favorite ice cream?” questions in the midst of an election and a pandemic for Jimmy Carter.

And late-night so-called comedians did not ridicule and disrespect the Office of the President when they made their often feeble attempts at humor. Just because we may not like or respect the person holding the office, does not grant us the right to disrespect the office itself. Impeachment and ridicule are not the proper options. The remedy for dealing with an officeholder who meets with disapproval is to vote that person out at the next election.

So let it be with Trump: The noble Biden tells us Trump’s a “clown” …and (with sincere apologies to Shakespeare) Biden is an honorable man.

If we as a nation feel the “lesser of evils” in the Election of 2020 is the ex-Vice President, Harris and the Democrats, then voting for and electing that contingent is our remedy to defeat the Republicans and Trump.

Such a vote however will unfortunately tend to shut down the entire country in perpetuity; keep the schools unnecessarily closed (to the detriment of a majority of American families and children); put the few surviving businesses and restaurants in jeopardy and harm’s way; sound the death knell for internal combustion vehicles, causing jobs in the oil and gas industry to disappear forever; and mandate all of us, no matter where we live and work, to take draconian measures to protect ourselves from others in the name of social distancing.


Despite the deplorable fact that thousands have died from complications of Covid-19, the survival rate is in a high-90s percentile, and death rates even for seriously ill patients are as of this week dropping, due to medical advances, understanding the virus way better than at the beginning, and less crowded hospitals.

More than 99 percent of children don’t even get covid, and the few that do, either have no symptoms or recover quickly. They can however pass on the virus to parents and grandparents at home, and to teachers and staff at school; but mask wearing and social distancing have been shown to alleviate that problem.

A Biden-Harris victory will surely also put the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, and The Squad (AOC plus three) in positions of authority, not to mention other failed Democrats such as Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Stacey Abrams and Michael Bloomberg, to mention just a few.

Bloomberg has sunk a ton of money into Florida to help the Democrats win that crucial state.

And of course whoever dates any of their children may be transferred by Gov. Cuomo to the badlands of Upstate New York near Canada, as happened recently to the hapless N.Y. State Trooper who had the temerity to date his daughter.

But who knows for sure what a Biden-Harris Administration will look like? Will the Supreme Court be “packed” with God knows how many new Justices? Will the filibuster that makes the United States Senate what it is — and should be — be abolished?

Will the Electoral College — which, though deeply flawed, guarantees the many small states a somewhat equal voice in presidential elections — be eliminated? thereby granting large states like California, Texas, Florida and New York, plus maybe a few others, the unchallenged right to choose our presidents in perpetuity? As residents of Baltimore and Maryland, we will be effectively disenfranchised when voting for president.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump face off Tuesday in the Election of 2020.

The devil that we don’t know… and the devil that we do: Joe Biden and Donald Trump face off Tuesday in the Election of 2020, a contest which is shaping up as perhaps the most im- portant, consequential presidential matchup of our lifetime.

So will the devil that we don’t know, unseat the devil that we do?

And will Joe Biden survive a four-year term despite the cognitive deficiencies and unprecedented need for vacation days he is now exhibiting on a regular basis?

Will he sequester himself in the White House basement? or hole up at Camp David for lengthy periods as he has been doing at his home in Delaware in recent weeks and months?

Even more important, will America regain the faith the country has apparently lost in itself?

So who’s going to win? Will the margin of victory be razor-thin? and possibly send the election to the Supreme Court? Or will there be a landslide for Biden? — as some pollsters are predicting. He has held a substantial lead over Trump throughout, despite the fact that many if not most people and pundits seem not to believe or have much confidence in the polls.

The big question: Have the pollsters figured out how to account for the people surveyed, especially Trump supporters, who don’t reveal their true feelings because the left tends to demonize and even harass any person who says they’re voting for Trump?

In 2016 Voice of Baltimore and retired Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley were roundly criticized for asserting on these pages that Trump had a “chance” of winning the Republican nomination… and then were sanctioned yet again for saying it was “possible” he could win the General Election.

And the second biggest question: If in fact the polls are highly flawed and inaccurate, then how can any pundit predict with even a modicum of confidence who is going to win? Most of them cite the polls as the basis for their prediction that Biden is on a path to win big. But if the polls are not to be believed, then how does one justify a prediction based heavily on those same polls?

Voice of Baltimore learned a long time ago that political scientists and analysts do way better at explaining election results after the fact than prognosticating before. So we at VoB are not making any predictions other than to say that we believe the election could go either way, with no result for days and maybe even weeks — or it could be decided on Election Night by a landslide victory for either Biden or for Trump.

We don’t have a clue! …primarily because we don’t trust the polls or any of the pundits who appear to be more into wishful thinking based on personal bias than on facts. Although if forced to make a call it would seem the greater likelihood would favor a razor-thin margin of victory for one of the two candidates… with the final result remaining unknown for up to several days or even longer.


If an analyst doesn’t believe the polls but nonetheless states, for example, that “Biden appears headed for a landslide victory” …then that person is expressing wishful thinking, asserting that what he or she wants to see happen is in fact what will happen. Which of course is advocacy, not punditry.

The vitriol runs rampant. And without accurate polls, how can anyone correctly predict an outcome?

The intense hatred of so many on the left is so great that they would literally tear down the country in the name of getting rid of Trump. Throw out the baby with the bath water as it were. (Reference the many statues across America being removed and even destroyed.)

The radical right exhibits similar desire to rid the nation of various congressional representatives and senators — and of course the current Speaker of the House…. However the Republicans stop way short of advocating anarchy to accomplish it.

And what of the so-called “coattail” or “down-ballot effect”? If there is a landslide, the winner’s party could likely sweep one or even both houses of Congress.

A recent survey (by Braver Angels, a national citizens’ movement that seeks to bring liberals and conservatives together at the grassroots level to “reduce the vitriol that poisons our civic culture”) found that 66 percent of the population believes the country is “in decline” and 70 percent think that if the “wrong” candidate wins the presidency this week, “America will not recover.”

Voice of Baltimore emphatically disagrees! Americans are resilient and resourceful: This too shall pass. We will survive the Election of 2020 and come back even stronger, no matter what the electoral result may be, come Tuesday.

But who is the “wrong” candidate that everyone seems to fear? Joe Biden or Donald Trump? Or maybe both?

The study doesn’t answer that.

Nor can VoB.

4 Responses to “COWERING IN FEAR — Locked in the Basement of Uncertainty”

  1. Nicholas Kaplan

    Al, Just came back from grocery shopping this pre-election eve, The store was experiencing a high degree of ‘Hording mentality or stockpiling for Armageddon’. When i asked the stock people what was going on (thought I missed a Hurricane warning or large storm announcement) I was told that a lot of people were told that there was going to be shortages. Not because of the Pandemic increase but because Joe Biden would be elected and there would be “allotments assigned” and the economy would be shut down-FOR A YEAR.
    Your essay almost predicts this reaction (see such a vote…) I guess I forgot to drink the cool aid.
    -Nick K.

  2. Editor, VoB

    Thanks for your Comment, Nick. If all that is true, then the hoarding will probably begin earliest in Florida because your state’s results will likely be totaled by (or even before) the end of Election Night. Quite possible that lots of people will be drinking Kool-Aid, if not something stronger? in the aftermath of this election!

  3. Gene Oishi

    If VoB can’t decide between Biden and the most corrupt, ignorant, self-dealing, sexist, racist, bigoted, mendacious, un-American and thoroughly rotten and vile president we’ve ever had. it is not worth reading. I’d vote for a roll of toilet paper before Trump. At least the former could be put to use.

  4. Editor, VoB

    Thanks, Gene, Voice of Baltimore appreciates your Comment, harsh though it may be. We have learned to expect and even welcome rough criticism when offering commentary involving President Trump. However we attempt to make our commentary as fair and objective as humanly possible in the hope that you and others will be able to read it without preconceived notions.

    [Mr. Oishi is a retired Baltimore Sun foreign correspondent and author. He and VoB’s Managing Editor worked together at The Sun in the 1960s/1970s.]

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