A reader writes:

Two things struck me as crucially important:

1) The exchange over abortion.  In many ways, the whole thing was typical.  McCain started strong, talking about building a culture of life.  As a practicing Catholic, this language was pretty strong with me and pulled at my instincts.  I was at first dissatisfied with Obama's more legal discussion, and thought that was the end of the exchange.  But in the follow-up, McCain then went on to make a bunch of wild allegations about Obama and abortion, ostensibly, I guess, to throw him off.  Obama was forced, once again, to take up his valuable time answering these outrageous claims, but then he clinched in when he said, "Surely, there is common ground...." and then articulated the ideas that many progressive Catholics share about abortion.  This was all substance.   (And how many women did McCain alienate by putting a mother's health in scare quotes?)

I found the whole exchange so telling.  For all to see, there was McCain's enitre MO for this campaign: soundbite, attack, and then – nothing of substance, simply because there's nothing there.  No ideas, no policies, no integrity.

2) Obama's calm.

You were surely right when you wrote that both candidates looked tired.  Obama, to me, did look and act tired.  But for some reason, I found this utterly compelling and reassuring.  It evoked the following scenario for me:  There's been a tragedy in the middle of the night, and the shattered family gathers in the emergency room.  There's fear, panic, and exhaustion.  And Obama reminded me of a type of person who, despite his haggard complexion, would gathering everyone around him and say to the family: "Look, I don't know if Mom's gonna be alright.  But we got to stick together as a family and hope. Now, I want you to go home and try to get some rest.  I will call you as soon the doctor tells me something, and we'll decide what we're gonna do.  Okay?  We gotta stay strong and hold on together."

I haven't seen any politician exude that type of calm control.  I might not like all of his policies, but I thought: "This is the guy who needs to be in White House."  More and more, I've been forced to admit your point: Obama is, without doubt, one of the most talented political leaders this country has ever produced.

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