Magazine June 1, 2020, Issue

Join Zoom Meeting: BIGJOEBIDEN

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden talks with a woman outside Lindy’s Diner in Keene, N.H., August 24, 2019. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

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Meeting ID: 804 311 1983

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“Sir?”

“Sir?”

“Sir? You’re on mute, sir.”

“Still on mute, sir. We can see your mouth moving and your hands waving, but we can’t hear you.”

“Okay, well now you’ve changed your background to outer space. But you’re still on mute.”

“And now you’re in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Okay, sir, just unmute yourself and we can start the meeting.”

“What about now?”

“Okay! Yes! We can hear you, sir!”

“Great! I guess when you click on this thing here — ”

“Okay, sir, you’re on mute again so whatever you just did — ”

“What about now?”

“Yes! Please just don’t touch anything else. Just keep your hands off the device.”

“Hahahaha! That’s what she said, huh?”

“Sir, really, we’re going to have to work on that. You can’t make those kinds of jokes.”

“I know, I know. Believe me, I learned my lesson. I even watched those HR videos you sent me, where the guy puts the moves on the gal in the office. Sexy stuff, actually.”

“Please don’t joke, sir.”

“Not joking at all. Did you see the one where they’re at the big conference at that hotel? Man oh man. But I get it. Completely removed that kind of nutty stuff from my vocabulary, and you know what else? Before we get going here just want to say thanks to this terrific team for handling the whole thing with that lady who I, God love her, have no memory of. Just zero as in nada. And bless her heart, not an attractive gal as per her most recent — ”

“Sir, I just want to stop you right now and remind you that these Zoom calls are not secure.”

“Not secure.”

“No.”

“As in?”

“Well, we just don’t know who is listening. So we should be mindful of how we characterize certain people. Is what I’m saying. I mean, if you were to say something that might be construed — wrongly, of course — as sexist or cavalier about sexual-harassment issues, it might be overheard by someone in the news media and they might . . .”

“They might what, tiger?”

“Well, I was going to say they might use it in a negative story about you, but I can see your point.”

“Feelin’ pretty bulletproof down here in my basement, gotta say. I am very much liking this kind of campaign. See, what I do is I sit here and watch stuff on TV and I’ve got this giant roll of that packing stuff — you know? The little bubbles? And I just pop pop pop them all day — I gotta do stuff with my hands, you know? I’m a tactile man. I’m a sensual man.”

“Yes, sir, we know. Now if we could just get back to the next 30 days, we’re seeing some strong tracking in the swing states and we’re making inroads with Trump voters and we’re noticing that you do your best in those places following several days of nonactivity.”

“Nonactivity?”

“Sir, many voters in key areas prefer you as, how can I put this, as an idea. They feel very favorable towards the idea of Joe Biden.”

“What about the actual Joe Biden?”

“There is some softening of support in that category.”

“Can’t keep hiding here in this basement, fellas! I gotta get out there and touch people, touch their faces and their bodies and smell their hair. Classic retail politics! C’mon, now.”

“Of course, sir, and yes, that’s part of the plan. But we’re suggesting that maybe the next 60 or 90 days you could just, you know, keep enjoying your time in the basement — ”

“Ninety days?! That puts us to, what? August?”

“September, actually. But try to see it this way, sir. The American voter is like the virus, and for you to stay healthy, it’s a good idea to shelter in place as far away from them as possible.”

“Well, that’s a strategy. I’d prefer to be out there, you know, mixing it up with the people and getting in their faces with my face or whatever, but okay, I see what you fellas are driving at. You know what you’re doing.”

“Yes. In the meantime, we keep doing what we’re doing and keep the message loud and clear and watch your numbers get stronger and stronger. Sir?”

“Hmmmm?”

“What are you doing?”

“Taking off my shirt.”

“Why, sir?”

“Around this time every day I give myself a massage with sesame oil. Learned it from a swami I once hung out with. Good for the skin and for the sense of calm. See, you squirt it on your chest and let it kind of ooze down the front — here, let me tilt the camera so you can — ”

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