“Biden on that stage calling the president of the United States a clown and a liar is not something Biden would have done four years ago under any circumstances. That he felt he [had] to do it is a sign to outsiders that American culture is in a cycle of decline.” — Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, to N.Y. Times reporter Steven Erlanger.

“Who won and who lost? I know I’m supposed to make something of a determination along those lines, but that’s not how this debate went down. Trump talked more and faster and louder, which was clearly his strategy: Be so damned vivid that Biden would look even paler than usual.

“In this Trump was successful. He had more fire — but dangerously, even dementedly, so. He never wore Biden down, but at moments he wore Biden out: Listening to Biden’s sentences peter out could be like hearing the air seep from a tire.

“But here’s the deal, as Biden would say: Only one man on that stage persuasively communicated that he has the interests of the American people at heart. Only one man on that stage seemed at all interested in maintaining a tether to the truth. Only one man demonstrated any respect for [Chris] Wallace or for the process. Only one man would be bearable for the next four years.

“I needn’t spell out who that man is.” — from Frank Bruni‘s “After That Fiasco, Biden Should Refuse to Debate Trump Again,” posted on 9.30.