Obama came off better than McCain tonight — he’s clearly brainier and more exacting and got in some very good points and zing lines, and he sure as hell didn’t let McCain get away with any of his blah-blah routine — but he wouldn’t do the street-fight thing. He wouldn’t punch or kick or do the slap-down. McCain was the snarly one. The grouch, the jabber, the bulldog prick who wouldn’t stop smirking and making faces and going “heh, heh, heh.”

Obama reportedly did better with independent voters, but I wanted him to be Mike Tyson for a moment or two. The fact that it’s just not in him may as well be faced. He is who he is — cautious, brilliant, mild-mannered, thoughtful, exacting, steady. But he’s not a pit bull and not someone looking to take a swing. And he never will be.
The significant thing, I think, is that McCain never looked at Obama. Never. He was in his own world. When Obama was speaking McCain was smirking, grimacing, giving off those little “God, I can’t believe I have to stand here and listen to this!” looks as he stared at his notes or the floor…the kind of look that a guy gets into when he’s being chewed out by his wife.
As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, “Obama refused to get emotional, never went for the jugular, never talked about the gritty reality. He could have done a helluva better job tonight of talking about what’s really hurting out there.” But Obama — there’s no question about this — held his own. He acted and sounded like a President. And he apparently came through with more debate points than McCain did.