I caught this during the debate, and hopefully you did, too.
Instant reaction from Politicalwire.com:
The Second Presidential Debate
Tonight’s debate wasn’t even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it — particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother’s death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.
In contrast, Sen. John McCain was extremely erratic. Sometimes he was too aggressive (referring to Obama as “that one.”) Other times, he just couldn’t answer the question (on how he would ask Americans to sacrifice.) And his random attempts at jokes (hair transplants?) were just bad.
Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules — particularly when the candidates were not complaining — was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn’t work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.
Andrew Sullivan: “This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain… I’ve watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don’t really see how the McCain campaign survives this.”
Ezra Klein: “Tonight was supposed to be John McCain’s night, but it was the first clear debate win Obama has scored over the course of this campaign — including the primary. McCain, as it turned out, was badly disadvantaged by the format. This debate was more physical than previous encounters. And McCain, for reasons of age and injuries and height, has a less commanding physical presence than Obama.”
Marc Ambinder: “CW says that John McCain had a 90 minute window to turn his campaign around – to put into play the McCain Resurgence Strategy, if you will, and if that’s the CW threshold, I don’t think McCain met it.”
UPDATE— McCain refused to shake Obama’s hand!