10.31 pm. It strikes me as a mistake for McCain to end the debate on his commitment to staying in Iraq indefinitely. Obama's emphasis on the broader global conflict and our broader responsibilities will reach more people. His vision seems broader, wiser, and more focused on ordinary people. A masterful performance tonight, I think. Obama's best ever debate performance. McCain was fine, but it's wrong for him to attack his opponent at the end. And then he gave a slightly rambling defense of his experience. I give Obama an A - and I give McCain a B.

10.30 pm. Obama ends with a focus on al Qaeda and loose nukes. Vital. Important. People get it. And Obama's nod to McCain on torture was graceful. We may soon end this nightmare of barbarism in the heart of the United States. And then we can bring the war criminals to justice.

10.28 pm. I must say I am grateful that John McCain has now stated twice that the United States has engaged in torturing prisoners. The use of that word clearly is important. It reassures me that he would, if president, end the shameful record and war crimes of Bush and Cheney.

10.27 pm. On the connection between energy independence and national security, Obama was very strong. He's the most forceful and commanding candidate the Democrats have put up in my living memory.

10.21 pm. McCain has argued that Russia is run by the KGB and that Georgia should be included in NATO which means going to war if Russia were to attack Georgia.

10.17 pm. Does McCain understand that talking directly to the Iranians does not necessarily mean Ahmadinejad? In his foreign policy approach, he seems identical to Bush-Cheney. I can't believe most Americans want to continue the foreign policy of the last eight years.

10. 08 pm. Obama's answer on Iran was strong and cogent. And his deployment of Kissinger against McCain was brilliant. I really say that between the realism of Obama and the posturing of McCain, the foreign policy maturity is on the Democrat's side.

10.05 pm. McCain has framed his policy toward Iran almost exclusively around Israel and preventing a second Holocaust. These are both admirable concerns. But the first priority of the president must be the national security of the United States.

10.02 pm. Obama just pwned McCain on using the troops as an emotional weapon. And then he has kept intense focus on Afghanistan. All McCain can do is suggest that Petraeus opposes Obama which is untrue, and to say how far he's traveled around the world.

9.53 pm. McCain concedes the failure in Afghanistan. Obama seems very authoritative. He seems to be passing the presidential. His exchange on Pakistan seemed to me to be a real turning point. He basically outed McCains distortion of his position and yet managed to seem more aggressive in foreign policy than the Republican. He's no Dukakis. He's no Kerry. He's winning on the issue of national defense. That's new. And McCain keeps gong back to claims that he knows more. And goes back to the Reagan era. This is the first exchange on national security in a presidential debate where the Democrat out-hawked, in a responsible way, the Republican.

9.46 pm. Obama doesn't know the difference between a tactic and a strategy! That's according to McCain.

9.43 pm. I cannot believe that Obama has not been tougher on the war in Iraq.

9.37 pm. Finally Obama manages to pin the massive spending increases in spending on the Republicans. About time!

9.30 pm. Both candidates refuse to say that spending can only be brought down by tackling entitlements and defense. McCain keeps talking about minor spending issues. Obama is also only talking about minor issues.

9.28 pm. What strikes me is McCain's insistence on pork. What strikes me about Obama is his forcefulness. He doesn't sound academic or pointy-headed. He seems decisive and executive. McCain seems more of a debater.

9.15 pm. Does McCain really believe that earmarks are the only problem with government spending? They're bad, but they are not anything like the real problem.

9.11 pm. McCain is still defending his silly proposal to fire Chris Cox. Obama keeps bringing it back to ordinary Americans and the recent past. He keeps trying to return to the theme of the Republican responsibility.

9.08 pm. McCain seemed a little less engaged and forceful. And the reference to the Republicans in Congress seemed a little insidery to me.

9.06 pm. Obama's opening statement struck me as more forceful and energetic, and less academic than usual.

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