A tough, civil and surprisingly substantive debate

Barack Obama and John McCain’s town hall debate was hard-hitting. Who came out on top?

Let’s presume, regardless of your age, you’re still smart enough to understand that Rush Limbaugh is primarily interested in entertaining, Sean Hannity will never be found at a MENSA meeting, Keith Olbermann was booted from ESPN for a reason and Chris Matthews is, well, Chris Matthews. And you also realize that any “impartial analysis” from Donna Brazille or Paul Begala should be thrown out prima facie ‘cuz all they care about is their next Democrat job. Ditto on the Republican side for Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich.

If you’re smart enough to understand all that, then you’re ready to analyze, objectively, what you saw last night. Here’s what I saw.

Here’s how I broke down the two major debate subjects, skillfully navigated by moderator Tom Brokaw.

The economy and Obama

Sen. Obama was clearly ready to engage in an area where neither he nor his opponent had previously shown much competence. (Of course, with the market careening down 850 points in two days, who wouldn’t have been prepared!)

From the outset, Obama displayed a debating skill that would have given Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton a run. Among the highlights:

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