I actually watched tonight's debate in full down at Humbrews. I would call it a draw overall, which favors Obama. Considering he needed to change the momentum and this was supposed to be his zone, that's good.
TV coverage is somewhat unhelpful to me. It's mostly fluff and drek. The debate itself was pretty interesting though. The format was good in terms of getting into the weeds. I liked that.
* McCain broached the idea of cutting Pentagon spending. That was the first surprising thing for me.
* Neither candidate said anything bold or interesting about the Wall St meltdown. The next time I hear someone do the Wall St/Main St contrast, I may go on a killing spree. Such a cliche.
* Obama does a lot of good things overall. He may not be a zinger kind of debater, but he speaks well. The Kissinger bit was strong. The "you were wrong" was also strong.
* McCain did a lot better in all the talking-over moments. He doesn't back down. Obama does. That scores points for McCain; it shows him pushing Obama around a bit.
* Both candidates show that media narratives trump facts: McCain brings up "Iran's Republican Guard" and Obama answers in the same words. Those were the boogymen in Iraq from back in the day, y'alls. Iran's crack paramilitary forces are the Revolutionary Guard.
Overall, it was surprising to me how narrow the terms of debate are here. Reagan is great. You can talk about the "freedom fighters in Iraq" without noting that, uhmmm, those are some of literally the same people who dropped the twin towers. Nobody calls any serious bullshit on the finance thing.