It's almost becoming a cliche, but last night's debate was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. McCain came out significantly more aggressive than he had in the previous two debates. Obama did not rise to take the bait nor say anything that would torpedo his chances (i.e. "You're right! I am a terrorist!"). Given that, it's hard to see much of a change in the race stemming from last night's debate. I think that the dynamic of the last three weeks is pretty set in place at this point and it's just a matter of seeing how everything resolves itself.
That said, of course I think Obama won. That's the advantage of being right on the issues.
Also, a few points that I want to look at a little more. First, McCain tried a couple of times to paint Obama as an extremist. One of his positions put him in league with the extreme environmentalists. Another put him in the extreme pro-abortion camp. But let's look at those positions. Obama says that if we want to use nuclear energy, we need to make sure that it's safe. Apparently that's an extremist position. So a mainstream perspective is that it's okay to use unsafe nuclear technology? I'm not sure who is really advocating for that kind of approach. Same thing on abortion. Being concerned for the health and life of a mother is an extreme position? Maybe McCain and I use that word differently.
Speaking of viewing the world differently, did anyone else hear McCain say that the ACORN voter registration scandal might threaten the very fabric of our democracy? I forget the exact quote, but it was something along those lines. Again, really? The fabric of our democracy? I may be underestimating the problem this poses, but that's definitely overestimating it.
It was also fitting, I thought, that it wasn't until the last question of the last debate that someone thought to ask about education. That could be a metaphor for education's place in this campaign - an afterthought if we have time. In McCain's answer, he stuck to his line that choice and vouchers are the way to improve schools. That would be a fine claim if the evidence actually supported him. However, even the DC voucher system he was so in love with didn't work all that well. The kids who got the vouchers didn't do any better in school than the kids whose parents applied for the vouchers but were not accepted. That's not reform. That's sticking with a failing policy.
And that may be a metaphor for McCain's campaign and platform. He may call it reform, but it's just more of the same.