Many times tonight, I was reminded of the McCain I used to admire - tough, blunt and tested. But the new McCain - the bad McCain - was also too readily apparent during this debate. His contempt for Obama was glaringly, appallingly obvious, and really rather off-putting.
Republicans will trumpet a victory for McCain, and he did okay, but he didn't do enough. There was no game-changer tonight for McCain, nothing so obvious that would make everyone turn and go "Oh SNAP!" and flock in droves to McCain. So, in that sense, McCain missed an opportunity, again. The town hall setting was the one where he was supposed to thrive, and he desperately needed to triumphantly return from the beyond tonight. He failed to do that.
Obama, on the other hand, really seems to be growing into his role as the apparent President-in-waiting. He is tough, as well, but much more thoughtful and gracious than McCain. He is smart, strong, wise and worldly, and it shows more and more with each appearance. Stylistically, he can sometimes drift into professorial mode, though by-and-large he has really brought his A-game to the debates thus far. He brought his A-game tonight. I thought he made a compelling case for the middle class and for a new, 21st century foreign policy. He came across as very intelligent, but not offensively so (like Gore), and he came across as an in-touch, man of the people, but not in an idiotic, dumbed-down way like Bush or Palin. In short, he came across as a President.
I am superstitious, cautious, worrisome, neurotic and easily spooked. But with each new debate, and each passing day, I am beginning to sense that - barring some major, unforeseen event - it is more and more likely that, four weeks from tonight, we will be electing Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States of America.
*But knock on wood, just in case!*