Match Point

There are about 20 minutes left in the debate, and I suppose Obama could pull a major gaffe and say that Poland isn't part of the Eastern Bloc, but since that seems unlikely...

All Obama had to do tonight was hold-- he leads in the polls, and McCain has been in a panicky three-week free-fall. I believe he did that, and a bit more-- he appeared smart, knowledgeable, and mature. He was forceful, but reasoned. McCain is counting on obfuscations, jokes, and just started yelling a snide, sarcastic riff about Obama's supposed misrepresentation of one of Henry Kissinger's positions. Perhaps this eighth-grade tough guy approach will play with McCain's base (i.e., theocrats and Chris Matthews). But I suspect that to the moderates and swing voters both candidates need, it will come off as childish, and fit into the narrative of craven desperation that has rightly formed around McCain in the last week. The itchier and dodgier he appears, the better Obama looks. I am, obviously, biased. But I would be amazed if an undecided voter looked at these two men, and thought McCain looked more presidential. McCain is talking as if he's running for President in 1984; Obama is talking as if he's running for President in 2008.

This game and set-- and maybe the whole match?-- to Obama.

(Coda: Oh dear, McCain just made a KGB reference...)


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