The experience watching the second debate between the Presidential candidates was much the same as the first. We heard a lot of the exact same rhetoric, the exact same attacks, and the same exact issues. For a town hall meeting, with something like 25,000 questions coming in from the internet, the variety of questions was pretty poor. I kind of liked the last question, something like "What don't you know, and how would you learn it?" Unfortunately, it was the closing question, so both candidates used most of the time to give their summary closings.
Some viewers have responded by saying that the town hall meeting was more conducive to John McCain, but I don't think so. He did all right, but looked stilted and awkward much of the time. There were also times when he was wandering around while Obama was talking, which looked weird.
Some people are making a big deal out of McCain calling Obama "that one," which I think it somewhat disrespectful, but not a big deal. What was dumb was the bit about the $3 million overhead projector, which McCain mentioned twice. These silly one-off references to supposedly ludicrous earmarks make McCain sound dumb. Apparently the $3 million was for a projection system for a Chicago planetarium. So Obama voted to spend $3 million on upgrading a science museum...the horror.
Overall the debate was relatively boring and repetitive. I saw a bit of the Bush/Perot/Clinton debate from 1992 they were replaying on C-Span just before last night's debate, and Clinton looked young, energetic, and smart. I'd even forgotten how likable and relatively articulate Perot was before he revealed himself as a wingnut. But Bush seemed old and out of touch, checking his watch and becoming defensive when a woman asked how the poor economy affected each candidate personally. Bush said something like: "Are you suggesting that people with means aren't affected?" Which kind of made him look like a rich asshole.
The differences weren't as stark in this debate. Obama looks tired to me, probably because he his. He wasn't nearly as charismatic and smooth as I've seen him. But by contrast, McCain is beginning to look more and more like Bob Dole.