I am currently watching the highlights of the US Presidential Debate which happened last night. I have to say that most of the mainstream media and the US polls have given victory to Barack Obama; even some die-hard Tories had too. I therefore watched with great interested - and as an Obama supporter (but only just) I have been greatly disappointed.
Obama is a great mass platform speaker; he did well in Germany but his style is not fit for the townhall style meeting. McCain was quiet, dignified and connected well with the audience. His hand-shaking with the former Navy officer and claiming that everything he learnt about leadership came from a Petty Officer was well judged. Obama seemed unable to do "quiet" diplomacy and his frequent slips in language allowed McCain to come back at him.
Similarly Obama's call for comebacks on some of the points made him look like he was playing catch-up; a little bit desperate if you ask me. McCain is well suited to this kind of format but I was surprised that Obama didn't change his outlook to suit this.
As predicted McCain did much better on Foreign Affairs and it was pretty much a draw on the economy.
Obama's best moment was in reply to the tricky last question about what he didn't know. His reply was that Michelle, his wife, could give a much longer answer. However the answer then went downhill after that. McCain's response was much better - in a debating sense - in saying that he didn't know what was coming next on the economy and foreign affairs. McCain's last blast about belief in America, his service and their future was very good indeed.
As I say this debate really shocked me because I took a different view from that which I expected to take. On policy Obama didn't set me on fire (but neither did McCain) but badly let me down on style. However the bar was higher for McCain than it was for Obama; they both cleared the bar but McCain had to jump higher to do so.