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In a week beset by unthinkable political drama, the vice-presidential debate offered a wormhole back to 2012—to a different moment in American politics. Specifically, one wherein Donald Trump did not sit center stage.
The debate was an “oddly normal” capstone for what was “perhaps the most chaotic week of a chaotic presidency,” my colleague Russell Berman writes.
As this week winds down, here are a few things that our writers who cover politics are thinking about:
Last night, Kamala Harris succeeded where Mike Pence failed. James Fallows, who’s covered many a debate for The Atlantic, writes: “What has historically mattered, when vice-presidential candidates present themselves, is temperament.”
About that fly … “It symbolized the whole Pence vice presidency,” David Frum argues. For the past four years, Pence has been “the man who pretended not to notice.”
Meanwhile, the White House remains a Trump bubble. This week Trump’s “staff again seemed to cater first to the president’s emotional needs, rather than the country’s interests or even his own health,” Peter Nicholas reports.
Go ahead, laugh at the expense of the president, Caitlin Flanagan argues. The mad king and his courtiers learned a lot this week about COVID-19.
One question, answered: What can I do to help ensure that this year’s election runs smoothly?
Our staff writer Anne Applebaum has some advice in her citizen’s guide to defending democracy. The short version:
1. Help out on Election Day—in person.
2. Help out from home.
3. Join something now. (For example, sign up to receive emails from voting-rights nonprofits.)
4. Talk with people.
5. As a last resort, protest.
26 days remain until the 2020 presidential election. Here’s today’s essential read:
America is having a moral convulsion, David Brooks argues.
Today’s break from the news:
“If we’re going to be inside, it might as well be the inside we want.” In her latest “Material World” column, Amanda Mull explores why Americans have turned to nesting.