13 increasingly unhinged ways COVID is good for Trump (and 1 that’s not).

Well, that was an interesting kickoff to October Surprise Season.

“Season”? Oh, yes. The news is shockingly unstable, with new bombshells daily. Remember three months ago when Bob Woodward’s revelations of Trump’s knowledge of the virus came out? Wait, that was three weeks ago? Right. A single October Surprise won’t cut it. There will be at least ten of them, I’d guess.

What I would call a “logical” headline. With air quotes.

In fact, this diagnosis that Trump has COVID might be the least surprising October Surprise ever. He’s flouted mask wearing and encouraged superspreader events like the GOP convention, so it’s just karma. It’s all gonna work out terribly for him. Right?

But… hear me out here… what if it isn’t?

I mean, “he suffers gravely because he’s a mask-hating simpleton” is the most obvious outcome. Now, this isn’t Occam’s razor. William of Ockham coined that approach to problem solving, also known as the law of parsimony. It says that “entities should not be multiplied without necessity” — that is, if you have competing hypotheses about the same prediction, pick the one with the fewest assumptions. But Occam’s razor isn’t about different predictions. When different outcomes are on the table, the simplest isn’t always the rightest.

This is Occam’s broom. Occam’s broom is the process by which inconvenient facts are ignored by intellectually dishonest champions of one theory or another. If you believe this president’s self-announcement of his claim, or his doctor’s note, you are ignoring the evidence of four years of gaslighting. Why is that? Well, Trump has lied over 20,000 times in office. That’s more than 12 lies a day. Trusting anything coming out of this White House is a fool’s game. There’s no other president who, if they said they had a deadly disease, I would doubt their veracity. This guy I doubt. You might want to believe that he just got it because he’s been careless. You might think it’s the only sane explanation. You might find out it was the right thing. You can’t know you’re right today. You’d have to sweep away the history of lies.

With this in mind, I’m going to present fifteen increasingly unhinged reasons why Trump might benefit from this news. With each one, I’ll present a comparable movie plot, because after all, this year has to have been scripted. With each scenario, I’ll give it a “percent unhinged”—that is, how unthinkable the scenario is, with 0 being “sure, completely reasonable,” 50% being “okay, I guess I could see that,” and 100 being “I get my news from QAnon.”

Let’s start with the only bad scenario for Trump.

0% unhinged outcome: He and his enablers could die

Comparable film: The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

“Why should you be afraid to die? Your soul has been dead for a long time.”—The Red Death (John Westbrook)

There is one scenario in which getting COVID is not good for him: he could die or get seriously debilitated. So could any of the half-dozen people in his life that he actually cares about, as well as many of his Republican enablers. That’s not a good scenario, either for him or the country. It’s likely that he suffers some longterm lung damage, and being male, obese, and intellectually bereft gives him a higher likelihood of dying. His wife and children might avoid this particular fate, but that’s up to fate, not him.

In The Masque of the Red Death, Vincent Price’s evil Prince Prospero ignores his populace’s suffering at the hands of a virulent plague called the Red Death. He invites all his sycophants to a celebration in his castle, celebrating his great rule and ordering the deaths of the peasants who try to get in. A visitor in a red hood also attends the party, and (spoiler alert!) he’s the Red Death incarnate. As his masque is exposed, all the formerly jubilant partygoers die. The end.

A party in a castle where a deadly disease hops from celebrant to celebrant unchecked—well, that looks a lot like this.

The known afflicted, left to right: Senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, President Donald Trump, senior strategist Kellyanne Conway, First Lady Melania Trump, Notre Dame president John I. Jenkins, Governor Chris Christie. Not pictured: comms director Hope Hicks, presidential bodyman Nick Luna, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The celebration for Judge Typhoid Mary Barrett was mostly maskless, awash in hugs, and probably proof that God exists and she’s a woman. Let’s just see whether all of these people’s access to quality Obamacare saves them all as the Red Death walks among them.

5% unhinged outcome: He blows Joe Biden off the front page

Comparable movie: Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

“No one watches a car race to see who wins. They watch the car race to see who wrecks, who goes up in flames.”—Calamity Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock)

This president is a crisis freak. When he creates a crisis—DACA, Iran, the shutdown, whatever—all news is about him. In the closing of an election, making all the coverage about him and not his opponent is a win—even if the coverage is negative. Here’s Sunday morning’s online New York Times:

It took three full screenshots before I got to the one mention of Joe Biden—and that was about Jim Carrey playing him on Saturday Night Live. Biden had great polls and a great speech this weekend. None of it is accessible to readers of the Times. This is great for Trump, assuming he lives.

In Our Brand Is Crisis, political consultant Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is hired to help a an arrogant president of Bolivia who’s far behind in the polls get re-elected. She is a mess of disillusionment and venom, which is exactly what the campaign needs. By dominating the news cycle and manufacturing a sense that the president has human emotions, she orchestrates her candidate’s victory, only to discover that he is betraying his people. Oh well, off to the next campaign.

We’re watching the president intently. Because this thing is so contagious, we’re hoping not to see Joe Biden at all. This alone may not help Trump win, but it definitely keeps attention squarely on him, like he likes it.

10% unhinged outcome: He’s damaged and gets a wave of sympathy

Comparable movie: Batman Returns (1992)

“I could really get into this mayor stuff. It’s not about power, it’s about reaching out to people — touching people — groping people!”—The Penguin (Danny DeVito)

Even if you don’t die, this disease can fuck you up. Trump might get released from the hospital on Monday, but he might have serious aftereffects. Those can humanize him among people who otherwise just think he’s a sociopath.

In Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Oswald T. Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) is a tragic figure. His rich parents rejected him for his malformed appearance and throw him into the sewers. His tortured past make him the ideal mayoral candidate for a Gotham City being ravaged by crime at the hands of the Red Triangle Gang. He plays upon the voters’ sympathy for his plight, inspiring them to turn against the Batman—until the Caped Crusader reveals that he “played this city like a harp from hell.” The Penguin doesn’t win the race, and has to turn to Plan B, which is kidnapping the children of Gotham and something about exploding penguins, I guess.

In that movie, the Penguin is the leader of the Red Triangle Gang. All the chaos in Gotham comes from him and his accomplice, tycoon Max Schreck. No matter. Gotham sees him as a sympathetic figure when he is caught up in the very troubles he creates, and only a hero wearing a mask—the biggest mask you’ve ever seen, maybe—can save the city from four years of really criminal government.

Trump needs a lot of sympathy to win, but every little bit helps. But we won’t easily forget who caused this mess. He’s better off under this scenario:

20% unhinged outcome: He beats COVID and comes out a hero

Comparable movie: Iron Man (2008)

“It is one thing to question the official story, and another thing entirely to make wild accusations, or insinuate that I’m a superhero.”—Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)

While there’s no guarantee he will survive it or come out healthy, this is the president we’re talking about. He has the single best health care plan in the world. Should he beat the disease, he expects he will be viewed as a hero. Maybe a superhero.

In Marvel’s Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is an unlikable billionaire who doesn’t care one iota about who his powerful weapons kill. When he is kidnapped and seriously injured, he must fashion a suit of armor to keep his heart functioning. Once he frees himself from his captors, he dedicates himself to being a hero on the side of justice, with his chest-mounted arc reactor a constant reminder of the fragility of life. Oh, and of course unlimited power and the adulation of millions.

Donald Trump may or may not be a billionaire, but he has the unlikable part down cold. His tweets and his awkward video and “work photos” from Walter Reed suggest he is all smiles and positivity. What if he harnessed that, said he was wrong to mock the precautions, committed himself to supporting the science, embraced mask use, and denounced those who stand for ignorance? He’s an opportunist, and this is quite the opportunity. If he could keep this up for a month, his approval rating could rise. Maybe not enough to get him over the line, though. For that he needs some help.

30% unhinged outcome: He fakes symptoms to skip the debates

Comparable movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“You’re not dying. You just can’t think of anything good to do.”—Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)

Based on the timeline first presented by his bumbling, evasive doctors, Trump was likely infected on Tuesday. He refused to skip the debate, regardless of the consequences to his wife and kids and everyone else in the room. He only had to tell people because Hope Hicks inconveniently got sick. This timelines well with the fact that he went to a fundraiser after he knew Hicks was sick. But wait, everyone who went to the debate was tested, right? Tested by whom? If you’re Case Western University and the president’s team says the president and his team have been tested, are you independently going to be able to check that? Will they let you? Will you even think to ask?

Regardless, that debate didn’t exactly earn him rave reviews. His aggressive, unintelligible, white supremacist, dictatorial performance inspired national outrage and a massive outpouring of money for his opponent. If you failed your first test that badly, would you want to take another? Fortunately for you, there’s a role model out there.

Facing a test he didn’t want to take, the titular hero of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Matthew Broderick) had the answer: a faked illness. Cold, clammy hands, blurred vision, you know, all the symptoms. He’d already called out for nine sick days this year, so he needed a really good excuse. After all, his principal was out to expose him for the fraud he was. Regardless, Ferris got to play hooky in downtown Chicago all day. No test for him.

Trump certainly doesn’t want to debate at a town hall. That’s Biden’s home turf, plus there’s all those peasants there. An excuse from his doctor, Sean Conley—one of a long line of so-called medical professionals who obviously will say anything to please Trump—is just the ticket out. He can even say he’s doing it to protect his opponent! What a kind man he is.

40% unhinged outcome: The 25th Amendment is invoked

Comparable movie: Hamlet (1996)

“I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”—Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh)

Trump went joy-riding last night! Drove around for his fans in a car that is chemical warfare-proof—that is, all the air inside the car stays inside the car. This put his Secret Service detail at grave risk, all for a photo op. An attending physician at Walter Reed said, “The irresponsibility is astounding.” That’s the kind of thing that can make you wonder if his dexamethasone cocktail is addling his already addled brain. If it can make you wonder that, it can make loyalist veep Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet wonder it too. They could invoke the 25th Amendment, stripping the president of his duties until he is fit enough to take them back.

Why would he want this? Well…

You can get a lot of things done when people think you’re crazy! Especially if you don’t have to do your day job. In Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh plays the very sane Dane as completely manic. His goal is to make the king and queen believe he is insane, so that the king will betray his guilt in the murder of Hamlet’s dad. It works! I mean, everyone ends up dead, but yeah, triumph.

Remember, Trump only has a few weeks left of this election, and everything he’s doing so far is a giant poop emoji. He’s got to shake it up. One way to do that is to run for re-election after having been removed from the presidency. He can run against the very government he previously inhabited—the ultimate outsider. He already won that way once, after all. Being the incumbent sucks when you suck as an incumbent. Why not storm the barricades and take the presidency back from … well, himself?

50% unhinged outcome: An adversary “takes advantage” of the chaos

Comparable movie: Wag the Dog (1997)

“We’re not gonna have a war. We’re gonna have the appearance of a war.”—Conrad Brean (Robert DeNiro)

You know who outside the government knew about Trump’s COVID diagnosis first? Political scientist Tim Hogan, that’s who. He spotted this.

That’s a “Hey, Russia, don’t be getting all frisky now” move. When the president is potentially incapacitated, the big worry is that someone very, very bad will use that moment to do something very, very bad. North Korea, Iran, Hezbollah, anyone. We gotta stay alert when our command structure is potentially compromised. Or, hypothetically, when we want it to look like it is.

In Wag the Dog, the president has a dalliance with an underage girl. His spin doctor, Conrad Brean (Robert DeNiro), concocts a fake war in Albania to distract the press. He needs it to be believable, so he hires Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to create the pageantry of an entirely fictional conflict. Things go awry when the CIA, in cooperation with the president’s election opponent, claim the war doesn’t exist. But the media buys Motss’s illusion, and the president rises in the polls with the slogan “Don’t change horses in midstream.”

President Trump has, to his astounding credit, avoided plunging the U.S. into a hot war for his personal benefit. But a fake war? The fake president would be all up in that. Some minor provocation by one of our enemies—likely one he’s spent the last four years cozying up to—would provide the perfect spark while Trump is convalescing. He rises from his hospital bed to do the people’s work of prosecuting this newly popular jingo crusade. Rah rah.

60% unhinged outcome: He resigns and gets a Pence pardon

Comparable movie: The Brady Bunch in the White House (2002)

(excusing himself to the chief justice) “Pardon me….” (whispering to the new president, Mike Brady) “Pardon me, I mean it.” — President Lawrence Randolph (Dave Nichols)

Remember the Trump tax story in the New York Times? That was last weekend. Sure sounded like there was some indictment-worthy material simmering below the surface there. (To say nothing about having caused hundreds of thousands of deaths by criminal negilgence.) If it’s clear to Trump that the feds are coming for him, he’d want a pardon from an honest man. But where to find one of those on such short notice?

In The Brady Bunch in the White House—you thought I made that up—the Bradys win $67 million in the Bucks o’ Plenty lottery. Instead of following Marcia’s dream to be both rich and beautiful, patriarch Mike Brady (Gary Cole) gives the money to a home for homeless architects, so they can build more homes for homeless people. The gesture catches the eye of President Lawrence Randolph (Dave Nichols), who’s accused of aiding eco-unfriendly CrudeCo. Randolph swears to resign if anyone can show otherwise. He needs a replacement vice president, and despairs of finding a running mate as honest as Mike Brady. “Why not Mike Brady?” wife Carol (Shelley Long) says, and before you know it, Randolph and Mike are up before the chief justice at the swearing-in ceremony. As Randolph is being sworn in for a second term, an aide hands him a photo of him being bribed by CrudeCo. Whispering to Brady that he needs to pardon him, Randolph runs off the stage, and Brady is sworn in as the leader of the free world.

Important: I watched that for you.

In this scenario, the timing is crucial. When Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, his fate as a half-term president was sealed. Pence has assuredly read up on that. Trump can’t be pardoned too far in advance of Election Day, because the public would turn on his replacement. But he has no leverage on Pence after Election Day. So he’s got to get his deal done sometime after the VP debate this week. A sympathy plea—akin to “A good Christian cannot let a repentant man on his deathbed go unforgiven”—in the final week of October could do it. A rapid-fire resignation, pardon, electoral win, touch-and-go convalescence poolside at Mar-a-Lago, and miraculous recovery might give both men the cover they need. I think this could work, actually. It’s much more than a hunch.

70% unhinged outcome: He engineers getting kicked off the ticket

Comparable movie: Election

“Being suspended is like getting a paid vacation. Why do they think it’s a punishment? It’s like your dog pees on the carpet and you give him a treat.”—Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell)

Trump does not like being called a loser. Should he lose the election, he’ll get called a loser till he dies, and well after that. There’s only one way to be certain he won’t lose in November, and that’s to get removed from the ticket. This isn’t the same as the 25th Amendment scenario, because he can run even if he’s been removed by that method (it’s not like being convicted in an impeachment trial). This is the method where he doesn’t actually get to finish the race at all. Of course, his ego would never let him walk away with so much on the line. If he didn’t appear like it was his choice, though…

In Election, Carver High students Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) and Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) are in a hotly contested election for class president. Paul’s sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell) is dumped by her girlfriend, who takes up with her brother both as his girlfriend and his campaign manager. Tammy is furious, so she runs for president too. With the student body assembled in the gymnasium, Tammy breaks the rules of the debate and goes on an extended rant about dismantling the student government. She gains a roaring ovation and a suspension. Later, as she sees Tracy destroy the other candidates’ posters, Tammy seizes the opportunity to claim credit, getting expelled from school. Victory.

Trump already tried destroying one debate and it got him nowhere. He’s still on a losing ticket. He’s going to drag the Republican Party down with him. With several Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee too sick to get Barrett confirmed, McConnell has floated a two-week hold on Senate floor business. Maybe this is when the leaders of the Republican Party seize their moment and boot Trump from the ticket before Election Day. The rules say they can choose anyone—a Pence/Haley ticket, say, setting up the first clash of Indian-origin female candidates for vice president in the country’s history. Trump would be sad, of course, but really, he’s not the loser here. He gets to say he would have won if the weak Republicans hadn’t turned on him. Then he moves to Fox News full-time and begins his 2024 campaign as the leader of the Trump Wins Party.

75% unhinged: He gets a get-out-of-marriage-free card

Comparable movie: Independence Day (1996)

This one’s a little—no, a lot—awkward.

The President and First Lady don’t always look like they’re the happiest of couples. Trump has a propensity, per the daughter of reformed fixer Michael Cohen, to wander. “I had the impression that he was interested in younger women, and that, you know, women would age out for him, and that when one woman became too old, he’d find a new younger one,” Samantha Cohen said after the married Trump made inappropriate comments to her when she was 15. In the world where he grows tired of Melania, he’d face a huge price for leaving her: public shame, family strife, whatever is in their prenup.

Unless the choice was taken out of his hands, of course.

In Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has an unpopular presidency and a thwarted legislative agenda. He’s facing dismal re-election prospects, but is buoyed by the popularity of First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell). The War of 1996 separates them, as both Washington D.C. and Los Angeles are destroyed around them. When the two are reunited at Area 51, he has only a few minutes with her before she dies. Grieving as he must raise his daughter alone, he gives an inspiring speech, jumps into the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet, and saves the world.

The coronavirus is like an alien attack. It just takes things from you. If the coronavirus tragically took the first lady but not the president, an emboldened Trump would be able to move on to his next stage of life without paying any cost—except the loss of his beloved Melania, that is.

80% unhinged outcome: The election doesn’t happen

Comparable movie: Irresistible (2020)

“Let’s just both go back to Washington and forget that we ever made camp in a place where the shit you skim off milk is considered a food.”—Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne)

If the election runs its course, Trump might not even be able to muster the “Army of Trump” he called for today. I’ve talked about all the civil war scenarios Trump might think up, but really, that’s a lot of work. It’d just be a lot cleaner if there was no election result at all.

In Jon Stewart’s Irresistible, campaign vulture Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) descends on the small, swing state town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin to pump up Marine Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) as its Democratic candidate for mayor. Hastings is a reluctant candidate, but gives it a go. Zimmer tries all his dirty tricks but faces a potential defeat to his Republican romantic rival, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne)—until Election Day, when no one votes. I’ll leave the rationale for you to discover. Suffice it to say that the townsfolk aren’t as naive as the Washington elite might suggest.

Now, in our case, we’re already voting. The election is happening around us. People are voting not only for president but for senators and congresspeople and state legislators and governors. The election can’t be canceled, right? Well, for the presidency, that’s not the election that matters. The true election takes place on December 14, when the electors meet to cast their votes. So let’s imagine that this superspreader event affects many more Republican officials, all across the country. As one, they agree that an in-person event on December 14 is too dangerous, but of course if the Democrats force them, they will haul their plague-infested bodies to the state electoral meetings. The Democrats gladly agree to online meetings, which occur—except the Barrett-led Supreme Court decertifies all of them, saying that Zoom appears nowhere in the Constitution. After a zero-zero tie, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority of delegations. Trump could lose 40 states and still win through this trickery. See how smart the founding fathers were?

90% unhinged outcome: He fakes his own murder attempt

Comparable movie: Bob Roberts

“Security’s falling apart! Bush league, pal! Bush league!”—Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins), after crashing his motorcycle

This was tweeted by an actual candidate for the House of Representatives:

Well now. Let me try to unpack “what we’re all thinking.” The Left somehow snuck into Case Western and coated the president’s microphone (I guess) with a sample of the “Chinese bioweapon.” Then, bang, Hope Hicks gets sick the next morning, and the president tests positive the next night for a disease that would take till Friday to reveal itself otherwise. Wow, we Lefties are so devastatingly clever, we have a bioweapon that incubates faster than COVID.

But, okay! We’re at 90% unhinged here, so let’s just say that William Barr is quite the schemer and fingers Antifa (or whatever) for poisoning Trump. That would be the October Surprisiest October Surprise ever. A murder attempt on the incumbent, only narrowly stopped because of his iron constitution! Speaking of the Constitution, we better shut down that mail on account of safety and just count the walk-up ballots. It’s the only safe thing to do.

In Bob Roberts, Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins) is a right-wing folk singer who runs for the Senate in Pennsylvania. He’s a fraud, and he’s about to get exposed as one by a reporter. After leaving the taping of a show very similar to Saturday Night Live, Bob is shot by “seven or eight Arabs,” all of which are conveniently not in the video of his attempted assassination. Roberts’s popularity grows after he is rushed to the hospital. Though he is permanently wheelchair-bound from the attack, he wins 52 percent of the vote, and sings us off in a toe-tapping finale.

Now, even at 90% unhinged, “Trump fakes his own COVID diagnosis” has problems. The unnamed White House reporters who were infected, say, or Claudia Conway’s outing of her mother Kellyanne’s fits of coughing. But look, this is the Trump White House. If, like me, you theorized that Trump made up his diagnosis on Friday night, it’s not far to go to get to “Trump will blame the Democrats for making him sick next week.” That doesn’t sound all that unhinged at all, actually. And once you’re there, this doesn’t either.

95% unhinged: He fakes his own death

Comparable movie: The Sting (1973)

“No sense being a grifter if it’s the same as being a citizen.”—Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman)

After Trump leaves office, assuming the rule of law still exists, he faces some major investigations and even more major debts, to the tune of half a billion dollars. He could end up unemployed, broke, and in jail. Quite the potential fall from grace if he can’t get the government off his back. There’s only one other way out of this: He can die. But who wants to die?

In The Sting, con men Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) and Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) face the twin threats of being wanted by the FBI and targeted for revenge by crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Lonnegan tracks them down through a horse-race fixer and plans to ruin Gondorff by using the fixer’s info to place a half-million dollar bet on a horse. The race doesn’t turn out like Lonnegan expects and he’s ready to take his bet out in blood. At that very moment, the FBI raids Gondorff’s club and Hooker is revealed to be an informant. Gondorff shoots Hooker, the FBI kills Gondorff, and Lonnegan is lucky to get out without his money or his revenge. Until … well, the movie’s called The Sting for a reason.

I rarely say nice things about Trump, but I will say this: Trump is a world-class con man. He doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to think up a Hooker-and-Gondorff-level sting, of course. But he does have a few smart grifters on his team, I expect. Give him enough time and enough cover, and he’ll see there’s always a way out. Even if it’s inside a body bag.

100% unhinged: He is replaced by an impersonator

Comparable movie: Dave (1993)

“Try to find someone who looks like me this time. That last guy was a joke.”—President Bill Mitchell (Kevin Kline)

On Friday, a few minutes after Trump announced his diagnosis, I tweeted:

Think of all the things Trump faces just next month: a historic loss, potential arrest, massive debt, complete humiliation, the dragging down of the Republican Party for a generation. This could all just get to him, you know? Either he could have a stroke, or die, or just disappear. Any number of things could happen. When one does, what’s the Trump administration to do? “Acknowledge the truth” isn’t really their move. No, “Operation MAGA,” as they call themselves, might just try to soldier on. Without their standard-bearer, they’re a hollow shell. They’d have to do something drastic, right?

In Dave, President Mitchell (Kevin Kline) falls into a coma during a hotel liaison with a woman not his First Lady. The president’s men hire Dave Kovic (also Kline), a temp agency manager whose side hustle is impersonating President Mitchell, to impersonate President Mitchell. What they discover is that while Dave admires the president, he also cares about America more than the president does. His infectious personality motivates Congress to pass homeless relief legislation that Mitchell would never propose, and of course Dave gets the girl—specifically, the First Lady.

Of course, that could never happen in real life. An unpopular, churlish president could never evince such a personality change that people think he’s a different—

Huh. How about that.

Now, all these increasingly unhinged scenarios are just that: scenarios. The important thing to understand is that they are uniformly good for the president—well, except that first one about dying. That’s still the least unhinged scenario, and the one that is most enabled by an idiotic politicization of masks in a pandemic.

One month to go. Get your popcorn ready.

This is the 65th installment of a series on politics and game theory. It has covered impeachment of Trump, Russian collusion, white supremacy, abortion, guns, nuclear war, debt, Colin Kaepernick, sexual harassment, the Mueller probe, taxes, Trump’s first year, the Clinton Foundation, immigration, parades, the Democrats, hope, family separation, trade wars, the midterms, the Times op-ed, Justice Kavanaugh, Speaker Pelosi, lame ducks, the GOP legacy, the stock market, the Democratic field, shutdowns, third parties, the Virginia scandals, in-party impeachment, the Trump mafia, college admissions, William Barr, Brexit, Iran, the Mueller Report, Joe Biden, Oregon’s standoff, the environment, Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s lies, Pelosi’s strategy, the impeachment inquiry, political outsiders, Rudy Giuliani, the Berlin wall, protest art, Boris Johnson, religion, engagement, Bernie Sanders, progressive unity, the Democratic nominee, the pandemic, unemployment, rioting, the Klan, the Confederacy, the GOP 2020 strategy, Biden’s strategy, the wildfire crisis, civil war, Kamala Harris, Trump’s COVID diagnosis, and Biden’s case. Most of these appear in my new edition of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos, which you can get on our PledgeManager now.

Game and puzzle designer, author, and amateur firebrand

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