The first debate

First off, I’m really obsessing too much about this election.

But the first debate!

On balance, this was one of the highest quality debates I’ve seen in terms of the performance of both candidates.  They also did a good job of highlighting their differences, and both made solid cases for their approaches and world views.  All in all, I was impressed.  I did think that Obama looked calmer and more presidential, but McCain looked more in command of the minutia of the subject.  There were a few times when McCain seemed to lose his cool.  On the other hand, I think
Obama grinned a little too broadly a little too often.  Both managed to score some points off the other, though I thought Obama came off a little ahead there.  But that may just reflect my biases.

All in all, I don’t think it was a knock-out for either one.  You could imagine either one as president.

Which, under the circumstances, is a major win for Obama.  Obama looked credible standing next to McCain.  Which is what he needed to do.  He passed the Reagan test – seeing him up there, I could easily imagine him as president.

On the other hand, McCain needed to make Obama look out of place.  Really, McCain needed a solid win here.  He didn’t get it, and so, in the broader sense, McCain failed to do what he needed to do tonight.

So I call it a tactical draw, but a strategic win for Obama.  (And yes, Senator McCain, I know the difference between tactics and strategy.)

We’ll see how it all plays out, but that’s my take.

Jim Lehrer did his usual superb job.

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