There wasn't a winner or loser. What we generally had was a very clear representation of the differences between these two candidates. So, let's say that for the good of democracy the debate was informative and helpful. Yes, McCain was on the offensive more toward the second half of the debate but that is not surprising. First, we need to question if being on the offensive is always going to prove to be a better communication method. Underneath the more aggressive approach, what has McCain told us about himself? That he has more experience than Obama and that Obama "just doesn't seem to understand...." How many times did McCain use this very forceful caracturization of Obama's position.
Contrast the number of times McCain used that condescending comment to the number of times Obama said, "I beleive John is right, but...." Obama demonstrated an ability to dive into the complexities of each question. Acknowledging what McCain was right on allowed him to the pivot and move deeper into the nuances that such complex issues descerved.
McCain on the other hand represented a black and white interpretation. How many times did Obama need to correct McCain's summary statements on Obama's own positions?
What we might want to wonder is: does McCain distort Obama's positions intentionally? Or is it simply that his world is so black and white that he can't help but misunderstand Obama? If McCain is elected, which would be worse? To have president who manipulated his way into the White House through Rovian style politics by twisting his opponents words, or a president whose worldview is so rigid that he cannot understand complexity. Their differences on talks with hostile foreign leaders is a case in point here. McCain is old school and assumes that sitting down to a table with a dictator means that we are validating that dictator's rhetoric. Obama, on the other hand, wants to cut through the rhetoric and look the dictator in the eye.
I was very impressed with McCain's quick and easy handle of the international scene. He did get hot under the collar, but he didn't self-sabotage like I had assumed based on his track record in the public eye since a week ago Monday when the Wall St. crisis hit the fan. However, the question that Obama left in our minds is, what does all of McCain's experience amount to? Is he really as maverick as he poses? Will all this experience in an old school politician be the right kind of leadership that we need for the next four years?
We haven't learned anything new this evening. We have been privledged to a more three dimensional representation of the two candidates than what our news media thus far has been able to offer us. I'd say tonight was a win for voters in helping them understand just what they are voting for.