Obama won the debate, CBS News says its panel of undecided voters concluded -- 40% to 26%, with 35% calling it a draw. If Obama won, I think, it was because he looked more vigorously presidential. Between his POW injuries and plain old age, McCain is not as smooth and agile as a man 25 years younger.
Strangely, McCain didn't take his gloves off -- the pledge his campaign chiefs made Monday. But the result was a debate that, overall, was as boring as it was proper. Moderator Tom Brokaw, unbecomingly officious, several times prevented the candidates from making on-the-fly rebuttals -- until Obama finally used his oversized mike as a kind of club to extract a couple of unscheduled minutes.
Obama started strong, but in the last 30 minutes was like a racehorse who, running a couple of lengths ahead, decides to coast to the finish line. McCain started slowly, but made the most of the last third of the 90-minute town-hall-type session, where undecided voters threw screened questions at the candidates.
The only new thing that came up was McCain's proposal for $300 million in federal aid to homeowners who are losing their property to foreclosure. This is the kind of legislative initiative that McCain should have showed when the financial crisis detonated last month.