President Donald Trump restrained most of his inner demons in his second and final debate with Joe Biden before the Nov. 3 election, possibly because he knew that, this time, the debate organizers could cut off his microphone and certainly because his overbearing, belligerent performance in the first debate had proven to be a minor disaster for his campaign.

That does not mean he was especially truthful in his answers or unafraid to fling wild and bogus charges of corruption at Biden, but the former vice president, for his part, did what he needed to do: not look old and mentally feeble. Never a great debater, this was one of Biden’s better performances. His comments were generally concise and coherent, and his counterpunches to Trump’s jabs were well aimed.

Much of the time, Biden’s body language said the most. Trump, as usual, rambled into some weird rhetorical territory and Biden responded with caustic grins and incredulous looks. Mostly, Biden appeared relaxed and seemed to be enjoying himself while Trump got increasingly more agitated and red-faced as the debate progressed.

A year ago, there were plenty of indications that Biden was the opponent the Trump campaign feared the most. However, many Democrats were not nearly as certain that Biden would be their best standard bearer, worrying that he was too old, too white, too moderate, too uncharismatic to rally a diverse party. Now, though, in the strangest political year in anyone’s memory – with a pandemic careening through the country, upheaval in the streets and constant chaos in the White House – calm, competent, compassionate Joe Biden has turned out to be a perfect contrast with the fulminating, inept, self-obsessed incumbent.

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