It ain't over until it's over, but it looks like it's over. Many news stories have emphasized McCain's attack mode, and even made it sound as though the debate was some sort of draw, but McCain clearly lost (as both CNN and CBS polls made clear right afterwards, see Marc Cooper's blog for the statistics as well as comments that I fully agree with.)
I watched the spectacle with a pro-Obama friend, and what struck both of us was the way that McCain kept walking into the whirling blades of Obama's calm ripostes, as if he were in a catatonic state or sleepwalking and couldn't help himself.
Bill Ayers? Well, didn't McCain and his "advisors" realize that Obama had been rehearsing his effective response for weeks? (and that Obama would have the chance to deliver one of his most brilliant and devastating lines during the debate, that McCain had made Ayers the "centerpiece" of his campaign.) Joe the Plumber? Well, Obama was the one who talked to Joe, and clearly came off understanding his problems the best. McCain even briefly drudged up that "overhead projector" again! Doesn't his staff do any research before these debates? If so, they would know that the Adler Planetarium had made it clear McCain had it entirely wrong, but there he was pulling stale bread out of his pathetic little sack of dirty tricks.
Lawyers say that you never ask a question in court unless you know the answer in advance. McCain went on the attack, sure, but his attack was so ineffective that it just set Obama up for looking as good as ever. McCain came off looking the lesser man once again. I guess when you are the lesser man, it's hard to help it.
(Oh, and then there was this amazing moment, when McCain made light of concerns about the health of women who might need abortions to save their lives:)
And this one, when McCain drudged up the health care "fine" again. Remember what the lawyers say next time you debate, John, except, um, there won't be any more debates (with thanks to Talking Points Memo for making these videos available to us all.)
Jon Swift on Joe the Plumber.
McCain is not George Bush: