In the wake of the third presidential debate, the McCain campaign and its Republican supporters hit the airwaves to repeat their talking points about how their candidate handily beat Barack Obama. And plenty of conservative pundits on TV and online were convinced that McCain won the debate.
But in the blogosphere, it was a different story with numerous bloggers, from the sanctified realm of the National Review's Corner blog to independent conservative voices, expressing dismay with McCain's performance and his inability to land a crucial knockout punch this late in the campaign.
"A minute they spend on who's being meaner or more dishonest in this campaign is a minute that helps Obama--not because he wins the issue, still less because he deserves to win it, but because it is not what is driving people's votes--and they've spent way more than a minute on this stuff," wrote National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru on The Corner.
Rod Dreher, a conservative Christian columnist, declared the race over to Obama's benefit:
OK, that's over. And so is the McCain campaign. He was more aggressive than he's been so far, and he came close to landing some blows on Obama. But he never really connected, and for the most part this debate was as platitudinous as they all have been. McCain came off as sour, agitated and petulant. Obama -- man, nothing rattles that guy. McCain was two tics away from a vein-popping "You can't handle the truth!" Jack Nicholson moment, I felt. At one point, I thought: Which one of these men would I want in the White House when the 3 a.m. phone call comes in?
And Paul Mirengoff, who writes for the conservative Powerline blog, wrote that:
Ultimately, it seems unlikely that McCain cut into Obama's lead through this performance. And Obama may have taken another small step towards making Americans comfortable with the prospect of his presidency.
Over at Pajamas Media, Jennifer Rubin felt that McCain didn't improve his chance tonight:
At times McCain seemed to connect with a jab or a punch here or there, but his argument at times wavered and his delivery was far from crisp. As for Obama, he was at his calmest and smoothest. If McCain needed to knock Obama off his perch of serenity it didn't happen.