The debate last night was all about whether John McCain could pull off a game-changer; while some pundits saw his best debate performance yet, most agreed that he didn't score.
- Time’s Mark Halperin liked what he saw at first, as McCain "showed off the best of himself—dedicated, sincere, patriotic, cheery, earnest, commanding." But he lost it in the second half, getting "aggressive and distracted."
- Tom Shales, in the Washington Post, says McCain got off some good lines, but looked "inflated and aloof. Sometimes he could have been posing for a spot on Mt. Rushmore. Other times, he looked as though he might explode."
- "McCain came off as sour, agitated, and petulant," Rod Dreher writes at Beliefnet. If you’re voting for a “solid, experienced hand at the wheel"—supposedly McCain’s strength—"you'll want to vote for Barack Obama."
- Still, in the National Review, Mark Steyn chides McCain for tentativeness. “McCain lacked the killer instinct. A man who cheerfully crashes planes and survives years of torture appeared nervous that clobbering his opponent might dent his image as Mister Bipartisan."