Instead, I'm taking a different approach. Here are two reactions to the debate, both from the conservative standpoint. One is highly favorable to McCain, the other is not. While it is too early to tell how the debate affected the race, the differing opinions from the same side of the fence is at least interesting.
First up is John at Powerline, who thought it was a draw, at best.
As the evening went on McCain warmed up a bit, but he was still mostly in "bad McCain" mode. More than most politicians of his stature, McCain's performance in such events is variable. Sometimes he is very effective--focused, clear, persuasive. Other times he seems distracted; he speaks in shorthand and can come across as almost incoherent. Often, tonight, he was in that lower range of performance.So that is one take. For a completely different reaction, we have Roger Simon at Politico.
Obama, meanwhile, was at his best. Generally he is below average when forced to speak extemporaneously, without a teleprompter. But tonight I thought he came across as plausible. He stammered much less than usual and didn't commit any obvious blunders. The bar probably wasn't set very high for him, and I think he got over it. Most viewers probably thought that he seemed a plausible President.
John McCain was very lucky that he decided to show up for the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Friday night. Because he gave one of his strongest debate performances ever.I do think it is noteworthy that, in truth, I exaggerated a little at the beginning of this post. Most people on the left are not claiming Obama won. They are claiming that it was a tie and that a tie was "good enough" for Obama because he has a commanding lead. I think to accept that view requires one to buy into biased poll results a little too much. If it is indeed competitive in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, then Obama does not have a commanding lead.
While Barack Obama repeatedly tried to link McCain to the very unpopular George W. Bush, Bush’s name will not be on the ballot in November and McCain’s will.
And McCain not only found a central theme but hit on it repeatedly. Obama is inexperienced, naïve, and just doesn’t understand things, McCain said.