Maria Montessori says that our problem lies not in understanding what we see, but in seeing what we see. Which, I think, may have had a lot to do with the media responses to the debate last night. The consensus seems to be that both candidates did pretty well—at least a B+–but that there was no decisive Winner.
Mr. Wired thinks they were all missing something important about McCain. As the evening, and the debate, wore on, McCain seemed to become more irritable, more condescending to Obama, and more visibly aging. Mr. Wired saw that in his skin tone, which of course could always have resulted from either bad makeup, bad lighting, or even bad TV transmission. I saw it in his posture; McCain, after all, is an Annapolis grad and career military, so one would expect his posture to be impervious to fatigue. But those shots of him from behind (so as to get shots of Lehrer from the front) seemed to show him getting really hunchbacked.
I think the reason the pundits didn’t see these signs is that they were expecting McCain to do a full-scale meltdown, given his legendary temper. So anything less than that, they just didn’t notice.
Obama did pretty much what everybody expected, for better or for worse. So he got no extra credit for being up on the issues, whereas McCain got extra credit for not melting down. Mr. Wired gives McCain a D and Obama a B. I give McCain a C and Obama a B+.