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The final debate

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Last night’s presidential debate looked a lot more normal than this year’s first. Candidates only interrupted occasionally rather than constantly. They got into a fight over big policy issues like the coronavirus, foreign policy and more.

But the debate was not normal by the standards of most of American history. It was not normal because one of the candidates – the incumbent president – told one lie after another. He did it about the virus, North Korea, China, Russia, climate change, his own health policy, Joe Biden’s health policy, Biden’s finances and the immigrant children separated from their parents.

I understand that you may be tired of hearing President Trump’s untruths. I’m tired of writing about them. They are no longer considered surprising.

But it is impossible to analyze a debate filled with untruths without first acknowledging them. They undermine an event intended to highlight the differences between the candidates. They undermine democracy. To ignore them is to miss the bigger story: a president trying to build his own reality.

How are voters supposed to choose between, say, two different health care plans if a candidate makes up stories about both plans?

No previous president has behaved this way. Democrats have often accused George W. Bush of lying and Republicans have accused Barack Obama of lying. And the two men made questionable claims and claims that were later found to be false. But when they turned out to be wrong, Bush and Obama stopped making these claims. Trump keeps making them.

Debate analysis

“From the point of view of lies, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate … an absolute avalanche of lies” – CNN’s Daniel Dale, who was arguably Trump’s most committed fact-checker.

“Biden was once again flawed from a fact-checking standpoint. He made at least a few false, misleading, or out of context claims. Trump was, as usual, a serial liar. – Dale. (A Times fact check of the two candidates is available here.)

“Trump was much more disciplined. He landed a few sharp attacks, even as he turned his back on issues that are more like fodder for the conservative media sphere. – Lisa Lerer of The Times.

“The topics Trump wants to address the most are those that are largely out of touch with those who matter most to voters.” – Jane Coaston, Vox.

“This debate is unlikely to hurt Republican Senate candidates like the first debate did.” – Jessica taylor, Cook Policy Report.

NBC’s moderator, Kristen Welker, was hailed as the best and most imposing moderator this debate season (and she had the advantage that contestants were mute during stretches while the other spoke).

Two post-debate polls both found Biden to be the winner, 54% to 35% in CNN and 53% to 39% in YouGov.

Key lines

“I take full responsibility. It‘s not my fault he came here. It‘s China’s fault. – Trump, on the virus.

“People learn to die with it.” – Biden, after Trump said the country was learning to live with the virus.

“Why didn’t you do it [while vice president?] You spent eight years with Obama. Do you know why, Joe? Because you are all talking and no action, ”Trump, on Biden’s criminal justice plans.

“It’s not about his family or my family. This is your family. – Biden, after an exchange of personal accusations.

“I would make the transition away from the oil industry, yes… The oil industry pollutes, significantly. It must be replaced by renewable energies over time. – Biden.

For more: See the main story of The Times; seven minutes of video highlights; and the writers of the Times Opinion on the best and worst times of the night.

The 2020 campaign

THE VIRUS

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in a 12-0 vote, with Democrats boycotting. The full Senate is expected to confirm it to the Supreme Court on Monday.

  • Thirteen women accused Aydin Aghdashloo, a renowned Iranian artist, of sexual misconduct. Several have described him as “Harvey Weinstein of Iran,” destroying women’s careers. He denies wrongdoing.

  • Goldman Sachs has admitted foul play in a global corruption case. Employees in Malaysia, the bank said, participated in a program to pay $ 1 billion in bribes.

  • A California appeals court ruled that Uber and Lyft should treat their drivers like employees, not independent contractors. But Californians are set to vote on a corporate-sponsored voting initiative that would exempt them from the same law.

  • Colorado forest fires are raging, forcing Rocky Mountain National Park to close.

  • One morning read: Kate Armitage and Eric de Grandmont live in different countries, and they have never spent more than a week together in one visit. But the bond the couple made with online role-playing has turned out to be real: They tied the knot last month.

  • Lives lived: She was a model for the Disney animated heroine in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and she and her husband rose to fame as a pure, all-American dance team in Hollywood musicals and on television. . Marge Champion died at the age of 101.

The coronavirus is spreading faster in rural areas of the United States than in urban areas. But one rural state continues to do a fabulous job of warding off the virus: Vermont.

The most striking sign of Vermont’s success is that it has not recorded any deaths from Covid-19 in more than two months.

Vermont is succeeding in part because it has not allowed the virus to become a partisan issue. Republican Governor Phil Scott – unlike many other Republican politicians across the country – has always told people to take the virus seriously. “He started wearing a mask at the start of the pandemic and stood at the back of the room in many state coronavirus briefings, leaving Dr Mark Levine, Vermont’s response to Dr Anthony Fauci, dominate debates, ”Bill McKibben, a Vermont resident, wrote in The New Yorker.

Vermont also enjoys a high degree of social trust among its residents, as Maria Sacchetti explains in the Washington Post. And Vermont has two strong local media organizations – VTDigger and Seven Days – that keep residents informed and both of which took an intriguing milestone early in the pandemic, McKibben notes: They closed their comment sections to prevent the spread of disinformation.

The key to this tasty and sweet beef stew is to spend enough time browning the meat – don’t rush the process. It goes well with couscous, rice or crusty bread.


In “Billion Dollar Loser,” journalist Reeves Wiedeman chronicles the rise and fall of WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann. WeWork’s story is emblematic of the past decade in tech, writes Jennifer Szalai in a review.

The book is full of crazy stories: Neumann was posing as a tech visionary, even though he rarely used a computer, and a high school student from Queens once ran WeWork’s IT department.

Sacha Baron Cohen revives his satirical character Borat, a Kazakh journalist. In this long-awaited sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”, Borat returns to America – or as he puts it, “Yankeeland”.

It’s “a fun ploy,” writes Devika Girish in The Times review, “but there is nothing in this film that matches the elegant social experience of the former, which sought to explore where precisely American civility sits. ‘departs from morality.

Baron Cohen spoke to The Times’s Maureen Dowd about the character’s revival (and more).



Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was awkwardly. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.