I felt that the debate was important, substantive, and thankfully free (for the most part) of cutesy sound-bytes and one-liners. It was very interesting to see both of the candidates to a “soft-shoe” around the issue of the trillion dollar Wall Street bail-out plan. It was a bit disappointing to note that neither of the candidates offered any serious or even provocative solutions to the financial crises. It was even more disappointing that neither of the candidates availed themselves of the opportunity presented by the debate format to question their opponent directly about his perspective on the financial crises. Of course, after prompting by the moderator, Obama did eventually comment directly to McCain on the economic bail-out, reminding McCain that he, McCain, had pronounced the American economy to be “fundamentally strong” just ten days before the stock market crash.
The majority of the debate revolved around issues of national security. I felt myself to be in awe of both of the candidates who each displayed a comprehensive and emotionally engaged sense of world affairs. The contrast between the candidates was dramatic, with McCain seeming very in keeping with the Bush doctrine of preventative strikes and “cold-shouldering” America’s enemies. Obama’s diplomacy-heavy foreign policy was oddly punctuated by his insistence on taking a hard-line with Pakistan over the Al Queda and Taliban operatives who have taken refuge in the tribal areas along the Pakitan/Afghanistan border. One troubling aspect of the debate on foreign policy was McCain’s “dated” quality. It seemed like he kept referring to by-gone eras: Russia, missile systems, the KGB, Viet Nam, and the like. McCain gave the impression of someone with a personal score to settle on a global stage which was, frankly, frightening.
In conclusion, both of the candidates performed very well and there was plenty of hard substance for voters to consider and calculate when determining who will win their vote. Although McCain seemed to have more of an emotional stake in the debate, his emotions were stormy, somewhat off-putting and not very Presidential. Obama seemed extremely Presidential, but his demeanor suggested someone who was not really very emotionally engaged in the process.