Warren did a very nice job. I hope the network moderators were taking notes. No self-aggrandizement, no moronic gimmicks, no ceaseless quest for the gotcha moment. He asked good, searching questions in a spirit of urgent reflection, curiosity and goodwill. So it can be done.
I agree with the take of most commentators: Obama came across as thoughtful--but to a fault. His answers were too long and inconclusive. He came over as smart, interesting and admirable, but indecisive. McCain was just the opposite: direct, peremptory, energetic, impatient to take charge.
If this event were all I knew of the two candidates, I would prefer Obama, though with reservations. McCain crossed the line between concise and simplistic (not to say bombastic) too many times. Obama's answer to the question, "At what point does a baby have human rights?"--"That's above my pay grade"--was an evasion. (What would I have said, I wondered? Words to the same effect. Luckily I'm not running for president.) Then it got worse, as he talked about "theological perspective", "scientific perspective" and (eek) "specificity". Oh dear. McCain's immediate answer, "At the moment of conception," was as crisp and clear as you could wish. Problem is, that answer has implications which I am certain that McCain, consistent though his record may be on abortion, is not willing to confront. If it's a choice between (a) handwringing over specificity and (b) dogmatic certainty on an issue that (in my view) does not support it, I'll reluctantly take (a).