- Jim Lehrer. He was successful in not making this an alternate series of informercials.
- Investment Banks. In one of the good shows of magnanimity, both candidates said they would cooperate in getting the bailout passed. Time will tell, but most likely the rest of us will benefit.
- Russia. In another show magnanimity, both candidates agreed that Georgia was the victim of Russian (or maybeSoviet given the tone of the two) imperialism. They did this despite overwhelming evidence that Georgia instigated the affair for their own purposes. If the U.S. media could manage to cover foreign affairs competently, there might actually have been a consequence for both candidates belligerence.
- Foreign Policy. This was pretty thin gruel. There was no discussion of South America or our immediate neighbors, Mexico and Canada. Venezuela got a cursory mention as a rogue State by Obama, a simply ludicrous notion. South America and Africa got gratuitous mentions by Obama for their part in being actively engaged by China.
- Trade. Trade was only mentioned twice. The first time Obama brought it up in regard to the Afghan poppy trade. The second reference again was Obama noting Iran’s trade with China and Russia, the latter of which he deemed not to be a democracy.
- Formality. Obama spoke of John without adding McCain 24 times this evening. Is McCain really that hard to say? McCain referred to Obama by his last name the entire evening. If Biden refers to Palin as Sarah, I wouldn’t be shocked if people treat it as condescension. I doubt Palin will be criticized if she refers to Biden as Joe. Particularly in this format, formalism should have prevailed.
Neither McCain nor Obama did anything positively or negatively that will move the polls more than a percentage point. The point everyone will talk about and no one will care about is the dispute over Henry Kissinger. Henry Kissinger is only treated as authoritative by those over age 40; nearly everyone lacks the information to evaluate the truth claim immediately; and most people have their opinions already formed about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of engaging hostile countries.