I went out after the debate and was surprised that no one I talked to had similar reactions to mine. Although I thought Barack Obama held his own, John McCain continued to go on the attack and put Obama on the defensive again and again. I haven't taken the time to verify the truth of McCain's attacks, and I should note that Obama consistently rebutted McCain's charges. But that doesn't strike me as the place Obama wanted to be. And now some of the highlights:
Weirdest line: John McCain asserting that South Koreans are three inches taller than North Koreans. When John McCain sizes up world affairs, he doesn't mess around. Smirk.
Clearest list: Obama discussing where he stood on the financial plan in the first question. Four points. Much better answer than McCain's. Obama also offered a good list in response to the question about whether we are more secure after 9/11 when he mentioned needing to do better in transit, ports, and chemical sites.
Most self-deprecating: McCain to Jim Lehrer when he asked, "Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?"
Mr. Congeniality: Obama hands down. McCain denied the title twice and Obama showed his best manners the entire debate.
Boldest/Craziest Proposal: McCain who said he could go for a spending freeze except for veterans, national defense, and entitlements. Obama had a good comeback, though, with the line that we need a scalpel, not a hatchet.
Most guest stars: McCain who mentioned Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton, the late President Ronald Reagan, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and Sen. Joe Lieberman among others. But Obama might have bested him by hammering McCain on Osama bin Laden.
Best critique of free markets without sounding like a Marxist: Obama who asked, "How is it that we shredded so many regulations?"
Best Bush jab: Obama answering the Russia question when he said that his policy wouldn't be based on staring into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul. McCain avoided the Bush association starkly when he revealed that he saw K-G-B when he looked into Putin's eyes.
Most repeated attack line: McCain who continued to say that Obama "doesn't understand" or is "naive." The line Obama kept repeating was that he agreed with McCain on points of foreign policy.
Best song lyrics: Obama quoting McCain singing "Bomb Iran."
Most contested foreign policy theorist: Henry Kissinger--Obama and McCain went several rounds on whose side he is on when it comes to sitting down with Iran without preconditions.
Snarkiest comment: McCain when he said that he doesn't have a presidential seal yet. Ouch!
Most "We are the world" moment: Tie. Obama's discussion of how the children of the world perceive us vs. McCain's "League of Democracies" vision.
Best accessorizing: Tie. McCain brought up a bracelet he had received from a soldier's mother, but Obama said, "I've got a bracelet, too."
Best attack numbers: Tie. McCain on Obama's $932 Million in pork and Obama on McCain voting 23 times against alternative energy initiatives.