My debate reaction, in brief:
1. Posture: McCain was like a wind up toy. He just comes across as condescending, smug, and nasty. The “that one” comment was particularly gross, as was the “not you” to Tom Brokaw. Obama showed his roots as a professor, succintly explaining things such as the economic bailout plan and seeming much more Presidential.
2. Foreign policy: McCain, as always, showed his bellicose tendencies. I was once again amused by his holding on to the Patreus security blanket: apparently Gen. Patreus is the only one who knows anything about the Middle East and the fact that McCain has “talked to him” makes him uniquely qualified to be Commander in Chief. Obama did a good job of explaning his position on Pakistan, which has, admittedly, even made me queasy in the past. He also did an excellent job of connecting the dots between energy, diplomacy, and our need to keep military options on the table.
3. Health care: Obama scored big here, calling health care a “right” vice McCain calling it a “responsibility.” McCain once again spewed blatant falsehoods about Obama’s plan while not doing a very good job of explaining his own.
4. Energy: both candidates did a good job here. I have to give the edge to Obama, simply because he’s better at explaining things. He drew very good lines between our overuse of fossil fuels and our domestic security. He also drew excellent lines between energy independence and job creation. I am clearly biased here, but I truly think he did a better job.
Those are my thoughts, in brief. I’ll be back tomorrow with more. As a tease, though, I’ll say that CNN and CBS both show that Obama won, though CNN has a clearer and larger margin. The MSNBC focus group also chose Obama. So far, this does not seem to have been the game changer McCain needed.
**Update: The RNC is filing a complaint alleging that the format was not truly a Town Hall.