In most presidential elections, the two candidates spar over issues. The president campaigns for his party's nominee in hopes of continuing his legacy.
Democrats champion liberalism, Republicans conservatism. In numerous press conferences, journalists try to force newsworthy and embarrassing admissions from the two candidates.
Not this year.
In his self-imposed retreat, Obama makes no effort to defend the Affordable Care Act, which is all but disintegrating, as major insurers pull out and costs skyrocket.
Obama months ago gave up mentioning how the crushing national debt has almost doubled to nearly
He is also silent on his foreign policy -- "reset" with
Her campaign strategy is to agree to occasional one-on-one interviews with pre-selected friendly journalists, and to engage in chitchat on frivolous morning and late-evening TV talk shows. Clinton avoids large rallies, where she often grates rather than enthuses.
The Clinton strategy is to sit on her small lead in the last two months of the race, expecting that the mercurial
Clinton doesn't talk much about the Obama record. Voters do not have any idea how -- or indeed if -- she would fix Obamacare.
Clinton talks tough about her future foreign policy. Does that mean she thinks Obama has been too complacent abroad?
Would she add to or reduce Obama's massive addition to the national debt?
Meanwhile, the frenetic 70-year old Trump cannot sit still. He talks to the press nonstop, anywhere, anytime.
He flies to
Trump's effort is mostly a loud, public, solo affair. He tries to scrounge free TV and radio exposure. He is at war not just with Clinton but also with the Republican establishment and the so-called elites of both parties.
This weird election is coming down to just two factors:
One, the outcome on
Can he continue to widen his appeal and chip away at Clinton's lead? In other words, can a hyperactive Trump reinvent himself as "presidential" and assure voters who do not like Clinton that as a calm president he won't embarrass the country?
Two, will Clinton's scandals, which now have a life of their own, ever cease?
Seemingly every day we receive new confirmation from Clinton's communications that she did not tell the truth about either the troubling overlap between the
Unfortunately for her, there are still thousands of communications to be released under court order -- and two months to air them all. Embarrassing communications will keep surfacing to both contradict her prior statements and reveal more past improprieties.
Looming in the background is the fear that foreign hackers may have stolen her huge trove of private correspondence before she deleted it -- and are waiting to release even more of it in late October.
In sum, a passive Clinton hopes that scandals now beyond her control will not evaporate her once-sizable lead before
A lame-duck Obama runs out the clock, too, neither defending his old policies nor offering new ones.
All the while, a madcap Trump makes nonstop news, hoping that his self-generated publicity is more helpful than harmful.