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Obama-McCain Presidential Debate Reaction: HuffPost Bloggers Weigh In

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Nora Ephron: Ringside:

There was a moment, when the debate ended and the wives came up on stage, where I actually knew, or thought I knew, who had won. I'm sorry to say it, but it was John McCain. McCain had come into the debate having spent the week as the King of the Loose Screws, but he got through the night without a sign of his irrational behavior, and that seemed like a big win for him. I was, by the way, the least pessimistic person in the room where we watched the debate, a room full of blue-state pinkos, and our hearts had collectively sunk as we watched Obama miss opportunity after opportunity to score a knockout punch -- as the men in the room tended to put it. READ MORE

Madeleine Albright: A Breakthrough Night for Obama:

He responded knowledgeably, thoughtfully and confidently to the toughest questions on the economy, Iraq, and terror. Meanwhile, Senator McCain spent so much time attacking his opponent, he neglected to show how a McCain-Palin administration would differ from Bush-Cheney. READ MORE

It was a good night for Obama because, when 83 percent of the country believe we are on the wrong track, standing toe-to-toe with McCain on foreign policy is all you need to do. And Obama clearly did that -- scoring strong points on the lessons of Iraq, where he pointed out all the ways McCain had been wrong on the war. He even landed a zinger: "John, you like to pretend the war began in 2007." It was a good night for McCain because, after a week in which he'd been bleeding like a hemophiliac in a barbed wire factory, tonight stanched the bleeding. READ MORE

The real debate is being played out right now, as pundits and viewers analyze, argue, and dissect the presentation in search of a winner. Since I don't know who the winner will be, I figured I'd talk about the loser. That would be, you and me. ... The result is another frustrating piece of American media that is at once far too polite, and at the same time, dismissive of an American public's need to know anything beyond jingoistic self-aggrandizement. READ MORE

Tonight I think we know who the next President will be. The debate was a crossroads. For two weeks, John McCain has lurched down a dead-end road on the economy, lurch from happy talk about "sound fundamentals" to gloom about economic crisis; alternately out of touch, confused and self-contradictory; then desperately reaching for another stunt with his blundering, transparently opportunistic intrusion into the financial rescue negotiations which crimped his debate prep. He clearly could have used more. READ MORE

i'm glad that senator obama brought these domestic issues to a foreign policy debate...
because fixing "home" would alter our foreign relations...
maybe investing in "home" would allow America to add value in the world other than our military...
maybe investing in "home" would make the rest of the world have faith in our judgment...

I hate to start sounding like all the blogs I read, but I have to say, I did want to see more fire. I did want him to let the anger loose. I did want him to slap back at McCain's endless patronizing tone. (I did like when Obama responded that he did indeed know the difference between a "tactic" and a "strategy" -- and even threw a pointed glance at McCain when he next used the word "strategy.") But while I sure don't want to see him at this point be anything less than or different than who he is, I sure would like a little more fight. A little less patience. A bit less politeness. READ MORE

Tonight was an easy game plan for Obama; don't accidentally say the "C" word and don't grow a beard at the last second and talk about banning kite flying. Because of a slew of frankly insane emails that have circled this country for the past few months claiming that Barack is actually a Muslim terrorist and that he introduced Lindsay Lohan to drugs and once tried to kidnap the cute kid from Jerry Maguire, mostly what Senator Obama needed to do tonight was show up and be his articulate and knowledgeable self. Mission Accomplished, which of course now means things get super ugly and complicated. READ MORE

I wish Barack Obama had lifted himself above Mc Cain's snooze-lines. At times, he seemed infected by McCain's lethargy. But Obama was clearer and cleaner in verbal style than he's ever been. I wish he weren't so generous in acknowledging McCain. Perhaps he is too kind to his mean-spirited rival. He is more gentlemanly than he needs to be. It must be a great burden not to seem "uppity." But his new clarity was certainly welcome. READ MORE

While McCain has an immense amount of experience in the military, there was never a moment that I perceived him as a levelheaded peacekeeper but instead looked like the same kind of defensive leader we've had for the last eight years. While Obama was talking about Afghanistan, Senator McCain was still selling the surge and the idea of "winning the war," a war that no one feels can be won. John McCain's entire message revolved around Iraq. He seemed to be in complete denial that our country is in a much less secure status than before 9/11, when it is clear that we have thrown a rock into a beehive. READ MORE

I was relieved by Barack's energy and strength and, yes, passion to win tonight. The last few times I've seen him be interviewed ad hoc he answers with many hestitations and "uh's"... he's choosing his words carefully, and that's good for governing. But for reaching voters and for winning a campaign, he needed to show more passion and energy -- and he did that tonight. I loved his ability, most of the time, to correct McCain's misleading use of "facts" that aren't facts -- best example, McCain said he couldn't believe that Barack Obama actually voted NOT to give the troops the money they needed. READ MORE

There's not a dime's worth of difference between Senator McCain and Senator Obama. The viewers of this first presidential "debate" missed the opportunity for a true debate. ... Accountability was not present in tonight's debate; just the repetitive refrain that the taxpayers have to pay for the mistakes of Wall Street, no matter what the cost might eventually add up to. On foreign policy, I was getting dizzy with all the places they want to inject our military forces. Both McCain and Obama need to be reminded that our military comes under the Department of Defense, not the Department of Offense. READ MORE

Ironically, the very thing the McCain campaign is now crowing about as an example of McCain's victory -- the fact that Obama granted his opponent the courtesy of pointing out the places where they agree -- is the very quality of leadership that McCain continues to falsely claim as his own. "I have a record of reaching across the aisle," is the repeated line. He claims to have made a career of putting "Country First," yet we only see him engage in behavior that has divided this country for far too long, effectively putting country second and putting McCain First. If he truly endeavors to unify us, then the first thing he needs to do is to stop turning every disagreement into a battle between heroes and villains. READ MORE

McCain seemed old and out of date while rattling the Israeli saber for war with Iran by referencing the Holocaust, which I found to be disturbing and despicable and obsolete, as are all of his militaristic solutions that underline every issue he addresses. I found Obama to be a lithe thinker who is open to solutions and new thought. I found him to be inclusive in his comments while McCain was exclusive, and had that familiar Republican sneer that is a required accessory for his demographic. READ MORE

It was Barack Obama who came across as the insurgent seeking change, while McCain represented the Republican establishment. Obama landed the crushing blows by pointing out the obvious: the Bush administration's, and by extension McCain's, obsession with Iraq for the past eight years has only succeeded in crippling American power and security. McCain, he noted, has been wrong, over and over again, in predicting that Iraq would be a cakewalk and that there would be no real ethnic enmities inside it. READ MORE

McCain just badly misstated the history of Pakistan. For someone claiming extensive foreign policy knowledge, this is simply not acceptable. McCain said Pakistan was a failed state before President Musharraf came to power. That is not true. READ MORE

It ought to be clear by now that Senator Obama has the temperament to be an effective chief executive. Where Senator McCain was unserious and petulant, Senator Obama was forceful, sharp and, at times, magnanimous. Hell, Senator McCain couldn't even look Senator Obama in the eye. Not once. Instead, Senator McCain snickered and smirked during the discussion of very serious issues. Where have we seen that behavior before? READ MORE