HCR you made it into the NY Times morning newsletter! David Leonhardt quoted you directly!! Here it is:

At other moments, though, Biden conveyed his ideas clearly. “Biden made the debate about the country and the American people, not about Trump,” the historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote in her newsletter. “While Trump listed his own grievances, Biden spoke to the camera, asking Americans what they needed, what they think.” He behaved as many previous presidential candidates, of both parties, have during debates.

This is not just an important acknowledgement of your excellence--it acknowledges the importance of historians in presenting a rational analysis based on facts and data. I'm kind of ecstatic!

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I made it a point NOT to watch the debates. I assumed they'd be a shitshow, so I read a book on my Kindle about Socialism (how's that for irony?) and went to bed. I woke up around 2am and couldn't go back to sleep so I went online. Whereupon I hear Dana Bash saying "that was not a debate: that was a shitshow." Told ya.

I do not see why Biden bothered with this nonsense. It is like mud wrestling with a pig: you always lose, you get dirty, and the pig likes it. What disturbs me most of all is that most of the earlier presidential debates -- Nixon/Kennedy in 1960, Reagan/Mondale in 1980, Clinton/Bush/Perot in 1988 -- seem positively Ciceronian by comparison. I don't think that it's intellectual snobbery -- at least I hope it isn't -- to lament this as a type of culpable ignorance on the part of the American electorate. How do we stand for this? Can we not even notice it anymore?

It is important to keep the fire burning for Liberal Republican Democracy, and not only vote but organize and be politically active in whatever way one can. The struggle will go on long after all this mishegoss is finished. But there is also something a little disingenuous in saying that we cannot let Donald Trump undermine our faith in the American experiment. and American institutions. The American experiment was on life support long before 45 came upon the scene and, with a talent characteristic of able con-men, ripped all the IV tubes out.

Biden promises us an interregnum of calm while we take deep breaths and start getting things to work again. And boy, that would be a relief! But the interregnum can't be too long. The problems that eat away at our trust in US institutions will remain. Biden needs to realize he is a transitional figure. And frankly, I don't think his shoving his party's progressive wing aside in this farcical debate helped much -- he needs the Sanders/Warren/Squad wing of the party to help establish the cool resting place the polity needs so badly. But Biden is a stopgap and a temporary bulwark, and I hope he realizes that Trump is just the advance wave of illiberal, undemocratic, unrepublican authoritarian force, and there are other aspiring demagogues far more cool and collected than Trump who are just as bad or worse. "President Tucker Carlson" is a prospect that sets my teeth on edge.

In short, the problem isn't just "them" -- the rich and powerful elites, even though they bear a larger measure of blame. As Walt Kelly's Pogo cartoon once said: "we have seen the enemy and he is us." We got us into this mess by inattention, thinking with our adrenal glands instead of our brains, pettiness, and a devotion to a uniquely asocial and apolitical individualism, the cult of wealth and fame. "Exceptionalism" is the original sin of the USA. We must dispense with it. Otherwise the shitshow will get even messier.

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Thanks so much, Heather. Yours is the best summary I've read tonight because it exactly agrees with what I saw. Biden had to stand up to OOO-45's third grade bully with oppositional defiant disorder behavior because Chris Wallace was incapable of doing so. He managed to actually make some policy points in spite of it and definitely came across as smart, strong, capable, and caring, all characteristics I value in my president. It's a relief to finally read an analysis that doesn't equate the two.

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I watched the whole show and I was proud of Vice President Joe Biden. He has a charming smile and he often laughed at Trump’s falsehoods. He would shake his head at lies and I think he was convincing. Trump just seemed desperate, rude and pompous. He is a big baby and a bully. Joe Biden was presidential, I thought.

Thank you, Dr HCR! You’re the Best.

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Thanks for that clear outline. It was kind of hard to put it all in line like that. I felt a little punch-drunk, I think.

I wasn’t super happy about Biden having to dip into the mud a little, but when you’re trying to push a pig out of the barn, you’re going to get a little shit on you. The trick is to keep it to a minimum so people can still recognize you.

The heartbreaking nature of that debacle was inevitable. Our president has reduced the office and our national morale to record lows and in order to rise up, Biden had to grab the focus on that same level. Now that he has waved some of the attention away from Trump (Hello? Over here?!) he can move on in the next debates to a more civilized, higher plane. He proved himself as a brawler if need be, now he must remind us what a true leader the President always used to be.

I was pretty relieved when it was over, though. I got a tummy ache just watching.

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Thank you, Heather.

I felt assaulted myself after watching the entire debacle. I screamed at my TV—multiple times—cut the mic!

I also wanted fact checks—possible perhaps with a 4 or 5 minute time delay. Or better yet, with as Rachel Maddow tweeted: Perhaps we could also debate by mail.

No way should the American people ever again be subjected to this kind of abuse.

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If I was advising Joe Biden, I'd say,

"Boss, that's the last time you get on a public stage with Donald Trump. Don't give him another free opportunity to continue to tear the country apart."

McConnell? Barr? Lindsay Graham? Do you "men" have something to say about what happened last night? You're OK with Trump's behavior?

You got your judges, Mitch. What more do you want that's worth what Trump is doing to the country?


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I've just watched the debate that I recorded last night and am very glad I did. I'm not so shocked as one has become inured to Trump's stupidities. In fact, I'm quite happy about the debate as it showed Biden to be REAL and confirmed Trump for what he is.... a danger to American democracy. Biden is not just an "anything but Trump" candidate. He is a decent, balanced man who can remain calm under "difficult" circumstances and still sound reasonable and intelligent. He has his shortcomings, but so do we all, but he "bearded the bear" in his own lair and came away with his skin better than intact and a new confidence for the future. He showed that he is there for all the people. This might not discourage the diehards on the extreme right but it is reason for optimism for everybody else

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Honestly, of all the pundits out there tonight, Bill Kristol said it best; Biden should spend the rest of the campaign season having town halls with the American People not spending 90 minutes per debate in a free for all fending off the verbal slop of an undignified, bullying incompetent lout.

Thanks, as always, HCR, for your analysis as well as posting your sources. I didn't have the stomach to watch much live commentary afterwards, though I did read a bit of analyses and the NYT fact check before I finally conked out. Oy.

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Thank you, Heather. Your report, and the others I've read this morning, make me glad I live in Germany and was in bed asleep while this took place. I don't plan on going on-line t watch the full event. My absentee vote is already cast, received, signature & registration checked, and waiting to be counted with the rest on Nov. 3.

Though your letters often bring us shocking and alarming news, they also bring us hope. I am ready at this point to limit my national political news to your letters. By doing that I have a chance to retain my sanity until Trump is blown out of office by a tidal wave of opposition in the election.

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HCR was quoted in The NY Times! I LOVE that!!

At other moments, though, Biden conveyed his ideas clearly. “Biden made the debate about the country and the American people, not about Trump,” the historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote in her newsletter. “While Trump listed his own grievances, Biden spoke to the camera, asking Americans what they needed, what they think.” He behaved as many previous presidential candidates, of both parties, have during debates.

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One thing that was very clear last night was that Joe Biden was raised to respect other people, not to bully, not to raise his voice in anger, to treat people with respect, to listen to other people, to take turns and wait for his, and - in summary - to live by the golden rule. It was equally clear that Donald Trump was not.

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First election poll worker here. Stepped up in an area where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2:1. At training, our SOE made clear: if Republican Poll Watchers behave during the General Election like they did at the Primary, she will be throwing them out of the room!

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An abusive spectacle underscoring how deeply disturbed he is. I had to leave. We are all unwitting survivors of his domestic abuse.

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I set my alarm for 2:40am so that I could watch the “debate” live here in Germany.

This morning I’m a zombie, but I couldn’t miss it because so much is at stake in this election and being away from home in this time of such churning, roiling trouble is painful. I feel as if I am being prevented from coming to the aid of a family member who is being attacked by an intruder. Unfortunately, last night’s event was a violent display of just how wicked that intruder is and how much my country is at risk.

This group and you, Professor, are a balm and I know there are millions of people in the country who are in the process of voting or will vote in person on November 3 to rid of us this scourge. But I remain concerned.

He will call on his supporters, many of them armed and infused with his distemper, and they will take to the streets to intimidate voters while voting is taking place, and afterwards cause enough unrest to justify the use of extraordinary measures to halt the counting of ballots, seize them and force the courts to intervene. He is counting on the courts as a backstop and he is counting on the Party of Trump in Congress to settle the matter.

Someone here suggested that Biden should refuse to attend the two remaining debates and instead, conduct town hall meetings to answer voters’ questions: I second that idea. There is nothing to be gained from giving Trump more free airtime to rant uncontrollably – nothing. Last night the entire world saw him clearly for the unrestrained ego in a big blue suit that he is.

Last night felt like a fever dream - I’m going to take a nap!

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Mary Trump talked in her book about Trump being abused and neglected by his parents, particularly his father, as a child. Understand neglect is just one of many forms of abuse.

Those who have worked or volunteered in the field of intimate partner abuse understand the cycle of abuse that passes from one generation to the next. For those who witness domestic or intimate partner abuse or are abused themselves have very strong tendencies to become abusers themselves. There are many forms of abuse, physical violence is only one of them. However, physical violence is rarely the first or only form of abuse. It is important to understand that abuse is all about one person exercising an imbalance in power to control others. The abuse may take many forms. It can be emotional, financial, sexual, control of friendships and associations, control of freedom of movement outside the home, verbal abuse or control, restrictions on freedom of thought, and yes also physical violence. In the U.S. it is far more prevalent than most realize. Statistics show that approximately 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner abuse at some point in their life.

Breaking the cycle of abuse to prevent it passing from one generation to the next is critically important. Hence the importance of domestic violence prevention programs and education as well as shelters to afford separation of victims from abusers.

With this knowledge and returning to what we witnessed last evening and, in fact, throughout Trump’s first term and family history it is easy to recognize an abuser personality. Recall the textbook definition of an abuser. It is someone who uses an imbalance of power to control others. The abuser will use whatever form of power or control available to them to exert that control over others. Frequently those efforts to control others will go through cycles of escalation until those the abuser seeks to control submit to their authority and power.

With that understanding it should be easy to recognize what we witnessed and why I call it abuse and classify Trump as a classic example of an abusive personality. I also hope all understand how dangerous it is to invest the level of power and authority available to the President of the United States to anyone with an abusive personality disorder.

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