Daniel McCarthy Something big but revealing is the overemphasis on Covid-19 during these debates — no president can deliver a miracle cure, and no plan amounts to more than waiting for a vaccine. Topics where a president can do more were shortchanged for an emotional media narrative. The virus is a big concern, but that doesn’t mean there’s a political answer.
Melanye Price A little noticed but important moment was when Biden seemingly broke with Barack Obama on immigration. It may be his Sister Souljah moment, an appeal to Latinos by criticizing Obama’s deportation policies.
Bret Stephens The moment Biden slyly made fun of Trump by calling him “Lincoln.” He punctured the president’s pomposity like a needle popping a helium balloon.
Héctor Tobar In the section about racial justice, Trump repeated his risible claim that he has done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Silly, ridiculous — and perhaps a fittingly stupid end to his political career.
Charlie Warzel The moment I was watching for was how Trump would spin the Rudy Giuliani-led allegations about Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails. But the president’s attacks were nearly incoherent. I have closely followed the saga playing out online, and I barely understood the references. I think it’s an example that the Trump campaign is so deep in its own information universe that they don’t realize it’s actually quite hard for outsiders to follow.
Peter Wehner Trump started out showing discipline and seemed nearly normal, but once again he showed he’s psychologically unable to stay there. About 25 minutes into the debate, the limbic system started to take charge. He was overwhelmed by his bottomless well of grievances and self-pity. Oh, and the greatest energy Trump demonstrated wasn’t on the pandemic, health care, racial injustice or the climate; it was on Hunter Biden laptop. QAnon and OANN world were pleased; the rest of America, not so much.
Will Wilkinson Trump claiming that “I am the least racist person in this room” and then arguing that asylum seekers who show up for their hearings have “the lowest IQ” perfectly encapsulates the man’s signature combination of mendacity, bigotry and gall.
Jamelle Bouie, Gail Collins, Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg, Nicholas Kristof and Bret Stephens are Times columnists.
Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) is a Times opinion writer.
Christopher Buskirk (@thechrisbuskirk) is the editor and publisher of the journal American Greatness and a contributing opinion writer.
Linda Chavez (@chavezlinda), a former Reagan White House director of public liaison, is a political commentator.
Matthew Continetti (@continetti) is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Michelle Cottle (@mcottle) is a member of the Times editorial board.
Matt Labash, a former national correspondent at The Weekly Standard, is the author of “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader.”
Liz Mair (@LizMair), a strategist for campaigns by Scott Walker, Roy Blunt, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry, is the founder and president of Mair Strategies.
Melanye Price (@ProfMTP), a professor of political science at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, is the author, most recently, of “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race.”
Héctor Tobar (@TobarWriter), an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, is the author of “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” and a contributing opinion writer.
Charlie Warzel, a New York Times Opinion writer at large, covers technology, media, politics and online extremism.
Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner), a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who served in the previous three Republican administrations, is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.”
Will Wilkinson (@willwilkinson), the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center, is a contributing opinion writer.