I'll just add a few thoughts of my own.
Above all, the affair leaves me with a profound feeling of sadness. Sadness mostly for Gillian Duffy, whose life has been turned upside down by a ravenous media machine, and whose look of deep hurt and bewilderment when reporters conveyed what Brown had said about her is my abiding image from yesterday. Sadness, too, for the thousands of Labour party workers whose desperate efforts to claw back some ground in this peculiar election have been betrayed by their leader.
And I suppose some sadness for Brown, whose brief time in the top office has been overshadowed by disappointment and decline. A BBC reporter yesterday described him as a Nixonian figure, and you can see what he meant: hungry for power, resentful of those who denied it to him for so long, then when he finally achieved his ambition, brought down by his own tragic flaws. And Gordon with his waxen smile facing telegenic, smooth-talking Nick and Dave in debate is a bit like Tricky Dicky sweating under the lights in the debates with Kennedy in 1960.
The key difference, of course, is that neither Cameron nor Clegg is JFK. The former was a Thatcherite apparatchik, forced to tack to the centre by the success of Tony Blair, who now has the gall to describe New Labour's period in office as 'thirteen years of failure'. The latter is a political lightweight who (as yesterday's halting, bumbling interview on Radio 4's PM confirmed) is not ready for high office. And, pace Andrew Sullivan (of whose blog I am an avid and usually admiring reader, but whose off-key comments on this election have shown how perilous it is to analyse political events 3,000 miles away - it will certainly make me warier of commenting on events in the USA), Clegg is no Obama (I liked this from Richard Adams). In a time of recession and war, are we seriously thinking of trusting the nation's future to an unexamined unknown just because he performs well on TV?
There's a temptation to dismiss the frenzy surrounding Gordon's gaffe as so much media froth. But, like it or not, in a media-driven election, when the issues seem so complex and the differences between the parties so slight, these stories often help to crystallise opinion more than policy debates. As with Barack Obama's careless campaign remark about people 'clinging to guns and religion', which made him look like a liberal elitist, they tend to confirm existing suspicions rather than dramatically changing opinions. Brown's treatment of Gillian Duffy seemed to bear out rumours about a quick-tempered and defensive leader with a tendency to blame others for his own blunders. At the same time, the incident appeared to provide a dramatic enactment of one of the underlying themes of this election: that Labour has lost touch with its working-class base and become tone-deaf to its concerns.
Obama had months to recover from his gaffe, and he was already ahead in the polls. The latest opinion surveys show Labour trailing behind the Tories and the Lib Dems, and the election is only a week from today. Brown's apology apparently came too late to win Mrs.Duffy back to Labour, and whatever remedial work the party undertakes in the next few days may not be enough to win back the majority of the population.