It’s late, so only a few quick observations.
1) Obama won this debate. As in the previous debate, he got the best single shot in (Last time, it was “You were wrong.” This time, it was “Next up, Baghdad.” The old adage is all too true–live by the sword, die by the sword. McCain’s sword is Iraq.) And the pollsters agree.
2) Neither candidate gave a strong performance. As I sat in traffic and listened to the debate, I kept cringing as the candidates rehashed their stale talking points. I know that Obama is just running out the clock, and McCain is throwing Hail Marys, but it would be nice if someone answered the frakking questions.
(Side note: When I was listening to the radio, the debate sounded close to even, if slightly shading Obama. Watching the debate, it was no contest. McCain looked bad; his appearance and manner undermine his words. As I said during the primary season, “McCain looks horrible when he goes up against Romney. He seems old and out of touch. What’s he going to look like when he goes up against Obama, who is 10 times the orator Romney is?” We have our answer.)
3) “That One” should be a non-issue (but probably won’t). I think it’s pretty clear that it was just a flubbed line. I think McCain meant to draw a distinction between “this Senator” (i.e. himself) and “that Senator” (i.e. Obama). Instead, he bungled both halves of the statement, with “that one” ending up as the kind of gotcha gaffe that the cable news outlets love to replay.
Finally, you should definitely check out Will Wilkinson’s debate commentary. It is awesome in its accuracy, intelligence, and scorching contempt. I said a few weeks ago that the election was in the refrigerator…here’s Wilkinson’s own take:
Gut read. Obama owned it. This election’s over unless he murders and eats the flesh of a child on live television.
Of course, given the twists and turns this election has taken, who knows what the final month has in store for us!