I told myself no wine for the first 30 minutes, but anyone who watched last nights us presidential debate between donald trump and joe biden will forgive me for breaking my vow. it is hard to know what to say about a debate that was not really a debate but rather a toxic spectacle that made me embarrassed to be an american. as my colleague ed luce put it during our live blog of the event, the chinese communist party should have live streamed the debate, which was about the worst possible advertisement for democracy one could imagine.

Trump is a showman and biden is a statesman. last night we saw what happens when the pt barnum of presidents goes into the ring with someone who takes the office and his country seriously: nothing good.

Trump spoke over biden immediately, making it impossible to have a substantive conversation about anything important or to hear much of what was being said. he insulted bidens late eldest son, along with the military, veterans, civil rights protesters and people who pay taxes. his aggression probably says a lot about just how rattled he is by the new york timess tax fraud revelations and what the implications could be once he is out of the white house.

Biden was able to wrest the cameras focus away from trump only a few times, either by coming on just as strong (albeit with truth rather than lies) or by simply looking into the camera and speaking directly to the public. youhave a choice;youcan decide what happens to this country, not him, he said.

God, i hope so. trump made it clear he would view any election loss as illegitimate and invited his supporters to monitor polls, something that hearkens back to past efforts to suppress black voters in the south. i had a pounding headache by the end of the first hour and a pounding heart at the end.

What did we learn? nothing new about the candidates themselves but perhaps something about the future of our country. before trump was elected, my colleague martin wolf wrote a dramatic take looking at how trump might be to america what augustus was to rome: a dictator who heralded the end of a great republic. back then it seemed a bit edgy. today it seems self-evident.it is a column well worth pondering, particularly for american swamp notes readers. you have a chance to set things right in november.

On voting integrity:

On trumps taxes:

On race: