I skipped this debate. First time. I am just tired of the dance. I've already made up my mind. Would someone tell me what happened?
The first thing I saw about the debate came from Will Bunch's blog, Attytood. It's video, showing the 35-seconds after the show, when the candidates are walking around looking for hands to shake, and there's an awkward moment when McCain turns and there's no real way he can avoid shaking the hand of his rival. And McCain stiffs him! Just wheels and goes in another direction, leaving Mrs. McCain to grab Obama's extended hand. But I'm sure they can work together in a bipartisan hands-across-the-aisles way after the election.
Looking for a little post-game report, I begin across the aisle myself, and go into The National Review's The Corner for perspective. It begins, "We have a disaster here."
Here's the beef:
Great. Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clealy qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.
If that's what the public thinks, good luck trying to win this thing.
Over at the Moderate Voice, Shaun Mullen made me feel better about going to bed early:
Obama gets points for channeling taxpayer outrage. McCain gets points for floating a new/old plan to buy up and renegotiate mortgages, but he simply seems unable to shed his grumpy old guy posture and make eye contact.
Overall, the night has to be considered advantage Obama, but not the Obama blowout that the insta-polls indicated. Oh, and the format sucked and moderator Tom Brokaw made Gwen Ifill look brilliant.
Finally, I'm going left. To Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish:
This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain. Even on Russia, he sounded a little out of it. I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out.It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.
Now I'm beginning to wish I'd stayed up.