No live-blogging of the debate, but a few thoughts.
- No one scored a knockout in this one, so if the polls are accurate and Obama is leading, then chances are that Obama will still be leading when the polls come out next week. I say that with one major caveat, about which more in a moment. Still, I doubt what happened tonight moves the needle.
- McCain was the aggressor throughout and he seemed to get under Obama's skin a few times. The split screens were not kind to Obama, who was scowling and visibly perturbed on a number of occasions. I saw that several times during the course of the debates. Don't know if that makes a difference to people, but it might.
- Obama took one huge gamble in invoking Henry Kissinger repeatedly as supporting his notion of meeting with foreign leaders without "preconditions." When McCain challenged him on it, Obama doubled down. My guess is that the reporters will be coming to Kissinger to find out what he really thinks. It's been 30 years since Kissinger has been relevant and I'm sure he'll not hesitate to speak to reporters. If Kissinger contradicts Obama in a forceful way, it will definitely leave a mark on Obama and it could move the needle.
- Maybe it's just me, but as the candidates kept battling each other about what the meaning of "preconditions" is, I kept thinking of Inigo Montoya, the character played by Mandy Patinkin in the 1987 movie The Princess Bride. After listening to the character Vizzini (played by Wallace Shawn) continually refer to a series of events as "inconceivable," Montoya says "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Given the way McCain and Obama were bandying the word about, the word does not mean what one of them thinks it means. When I hear someone say that they will meet someone without preconditions, I assume it means that they don't have expectations that the other party will have to do anything prior to having the meeting. That's not what Obama said he meant tonight and he made it clear that he thought McCain was misrepresenting what he meant. Perhaps it was "inartful phrasing?"