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Debate Reaction (A Little Late)

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I realize I’m a few days late in my debate reaction, but I wanted to go ahead and begin the new week by sharing a few thoughts on the first John McCain / Barack Obama debate. I liked more than I didn’t like. So let’s get to it:

What I Liked

Both candidates seemed very well prepared. Rather than sounding stuffed with knowledge, they both generally sounded as if they were speaking off the top of their heads. This debate was a pleasure to listen to compared to the drone fest that was the Kerry/Bush debates and the Gore/Bush debates.

There’s no doubt McCain has an expansive understanding of foreign policy. He sounded authoritative.

Obama really handled McCain’s attacks well. He never seemed flustered and did a good job of balancing immediate rebuttal with polite smiles.

McCain was smart to keep emphasizing his record of reform, which is certainly more expansive than Obama’s.

Obama sounded like he had a fairly intimate grasp of our economic problems – at least in how those problems are affecting common Americans in a myriad of ways.

What I Didn’t Like

A Friday night debate? Really? Thank goodness for Tivo.

It’s one thing for McCain to call into question Obama’s judgment. It’s another thing for him to sound like a scold.

How can Obama keep dancing around the effectiveness of the surge and his own initial opposition to it?

When matters got petty, both candidates looked a little childish. Unless you went in knowing the intricacies of issues like corporate tax law or international diplomacy, it would have been easy to tune out both gentlemen as they parsed words and dodged facts.