Debate # 1 : McCain didn't lose, and President Obama spared him

McCain didn't lose, which can be considered a win.

Abusing of Rove / Schmidt tactics (ie repeating "Senator Obama doesn't understand" / "doesn't get it", when McCain actually is the one who's to blame), John made the best of the little he had, stuck at the tactical level (surge) when Barack was trying to lift the debate at the strategical level (going to war).

Obama missed several opportunities. He was great on foreign issues, but not incisive enough on economics. He didn't attack McCain on his key contradictions, and to the surprise and relief of his rival, he didn't even mention his ties with lobbyists (if the GOP candidate wants to change Wall Street, the first guys to fire are his own campaign team, whom HE appointed, and not the SEC chairman, whom HE cannot fire).

At times, it felt like Bush-Kerry redux : a populist, sneaky, bent but humorous reptile dancing in front of a tall presidential figure with a clear vision, clear values. I don't know if independent voters will be fooled by McCain's dance, but fundamentalists must have enjoyed the Bushish vocabulary ("greed", "evil", "Holocaust"...).

McCain has no choice but playing the emotional, "compassionate not so conservative" tune, and Obama needs Americans to sober up, but without sounding like a party crasher.

Addendum : the SNL version featuring Darrell Hammond / McCain and Fred Armisen / Obama (about suspensions and suspenders...) :

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