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Seven Debate Points


1. Obama's frequent agreements with McCain ("You're right, John") -- ridiculed by Bill Bennett and Pat Buchanan -- might be a plus for him. It made a guy who has been accused of being aloof and arrogant look gracious and bipartisan -- and McCain's no-eye-contact combativeness might undercut his message of being a uniter in a time of crisis.

2. Obama's opposition to the surge, which was a sine qua non in the primary, is emerging as a big, big problem in the general. And he should have done a half-dozen more overseas trips. To Waziristan.

3. Interesting that Obama chose not to criticize McCain for blowing up the White House meeting -- which suggests his people think the back-to-DC gambit was a net-positive for McCain.

4. Interesting too that Obama chose not to explicitly criticize McCain's use of the word "maverick" to describe himself.

5. That McCain "Ahmadinejad" moment will have a YouTube life of its own.

6. McCain, whose hero is the raconteur Reagan, inhabited many of his answers with flesh-and-blood people and visual anecdotes (soldiers, mothers, Kissinger, the Putin poster). Obama spoke passionately about people's needs (health care costs, gas prices, the human toll of the Iraq war) but seems far less comfortable weaving them into a narrative. The brilliant memoirist seems less comfortable as a teller of other people's stories.

7. A few months ago, it seemed that Obama's plea to restore America's prestige was turning off people who already questioned his patriotism -- but times have changed. Americans are hungry for a return to prosperity, peace -- and superpower self-confidence.