The Talking Heads, the pundits, CNN CBS NBC etc all seemed to say that neither candidate won, and that that was bad for McCain at this late date.
For my part, I went to a crowded sports bar, so as to get a feel for what The People thought (of course The People in Boulder, Colorado are 65% liberal). I joined 20 friends, dispersed about at 5 tables and was—after the first few minutes when McCain seemed relaxed, earnest—struck by how uncomfortable, peevish, discomfited, put-upon and angry McCain acted. He looked defeated, or nearly so. Likewise, I was impressed by Obama’s composure, his easy smile, his certainty and openness even when getting criticized by McCain, who threw everything he had at Obama. At one point I turned to a friend and said, “Hillary did him a favor. He’s a far better debater, McCain hasn’t had him off balance, back on his heels all night.” Something like that.
Overall the moderater, Schieffer, succeeded in getting the two candidates to get off their talking points and go at it. He also asked both candidates if they were willing to reiterate, in person, any of the harsh accusations their campaign spokespeople and ads are so full of—a moment that met with wild applause at The Lazy Dog.
If this were a cheap Kung-Fu movie from the 70s, the old master was defeated tonight by the charming young student. But don’t take my word for it–here’s the debate, straight-up, via CNN. And below: the top-watched videos on youtube:
Bonus, from Grist.org: