I expected more of an exciting debate than the one we got last night.
The format was set up somewhat informally, so that the candidates could directly address each other. Had either candidate made full use of that flexibility, I think it would have been much better.
Obama certainly did a better job of directing remarks at McCain than vice versa, and when Obama said three times, "You were wrong," that was the closest he got to landing a real oratorical punch. I wish he had done more of that sort of thing. Had he also thrown some direct questions at McCain, to put him on the spot, I think it would have been even better.
McCain's behavior and body language was abysmal. He acted as though Obama wasn't in the room. The not making eye contact and keeping his eyes downward made him seem tense and isolated, not confident enough to look his opponent in the eye, and not presidential in demeanor. His insulting tone and comments, as well as some smirking, just reinforced the overall impression of a somewhat meanspirited old man.
Just on the basis of personal style, Obama would seem to be the much better negotiator, and the one more likely to be able to bridge bipartisan divides. The fact that he kept agreeing with McCain, on those points that he could, indicates that he does try to seek some common ground with an opponent, which is a very good starting strategy when trying to resolve differences.
Obama was much more presidential and statesmanlike like than McCain. You could picture him calmly and objectively discussing issues with other world leaders and representing a positive, rational image of America to the international community. I cannot conjure up an image of McCain being able to do that--I can only see him as being somewhat arrogant and dismissive--as he was toward Obama last night--and I think that's the last type of attitude I want to see in our next president. We need to repair our image in the world, and in McCain I see too much swaggering, and we've had enough of that with Bush.
In terms of content, I really didn't hear much that was new from either man. I've heard them both state their positions before. McCain's recitation of his experience was not balanced with many new ideas. He's not about to shake up Washington, and his behavior has been so erractic, I wouldn't trust him to provide a steady hand on the wheel. Obama more than held his own on foreign affairs, in a strong and confident manner, and that was all I wanted from him last night.
I knew who I was voting for before I watched the debate last night. But, if I had never seen or heard either of these men before, I don't think I would have been left with a very favorable impression of McCain, at least on a personal level. He's been around, has lots of experience, and has good stamina and mental prowess for a man of his age, but I don't think I would be happy with the direction he'd take the country. I'm sick of hearing about "earmarks" because they are such an infinitesimally small part of our budgetary problems, and harping on whether the surge worked is less important to me than the fact we should have not invaded Iraq in the first place. For me, McCain fails to grasp the big picture.
I can't say Obama "won" last night, in the sense of blowing McCain off the stage. But he certainly behaved in a way that reinforces my intention to vote for him--with no hesitation about doing so.