If you are only going to read 2 million opinions about last night's presidential debate, you might as well make this one of them.
My call: Obama by a length. McCain did better than I would have expected on economic questions, although, as Kevin Drum points out, cutting spending to fight recession is far from conventional wisdom. At the midpoint I would have called it about even. But I thought McCain got worse as the evening wore on, and Obama got better.
McCain was at his worst at the very end, when responding to Obama's remarks about how he would seek to restore America's reputation in the world. All McCain could do was talk about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.
It pointed out a certain emptiness in all of McCain's foreign policy views. Repeatedly, he emphasized the experiences he has had and the people he knew. Rarely did he indicate what he would actually do, other than threaten Russia and Iran and to stay in Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.
The debate ought to give serious pause to those who have argued that Sarah Palin is as qualified to be president as Barack Obama. It's inconceivable that she will handle questions about the world next week with the assurance and deep understanding Obama evinced.
Obama's performance belied McCain's repeated claim that Obama didn't understand the world (among other things, Obama clearly understands the difference between strategy and tactics better than McCain does). Every time McCain leveled the charge, and every time Obama responded with a precise, nuanced answer, McCain looked a little smaller.
By the end of the evening, only one candidate looked like a president. It wasn't McCain.