I thought that Barack Obama won the â€œvisualsâ€ of tonightâ€™s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a â€œtown hall,â€ as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in television land. To them, McCainâ€™s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.
On substance, I thought the debate was fairly even. McCain came across better on economic issues than he has in the past, but still struggled at times for the fluency (or perhaps glibness) with which Obama is able to address these matters. In any event, I suspect that, whatever the quality of McCain’s debate performance, heâ€™s going to take the fall for the economy.
Obama was pretty much gaffe-free (though not lie-free). He was a little arrogant at times, including in his obvious disregard for the rules of the debate, but not to the point where itâ€™s likely to cost him in this environment.
A win on the visuals and at least a draw on substance (if thatâ€™s a fair assessment) is a win for Obama at this point. So tonight he moves a little closer to the presidency. I continue to believe that voters will subject him to one more round of serious scrutiny when the debates are over. Tonightâ€™s performance marginally enhances his chance of surviving that scrutiny, which was already pretty good.
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