Here's who really won Tuesday night's debate: Barack Obama's schedulers and advance teams. Silently and seamlessly, those anonymous campaign staffers created the half-hour of compelling television that followed the debate itself.
We all know about the difference between the responses of those who listened to the first Kennedy-Nixon debate on the radio versus those who watched it on television. I did both last night and the same was true.
McCain's supporters seemed happy with the ground rules. Obama's supporters seemed happy with the results. But many were troubled by the debate organizers' claim of true public participation in Tuesday's forum.
Last night's debate came close to a Donald Rumsfeld press conference: "As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know..."
Well, for a town-hall meeting, I sure didn't see a whole lot of 'town." A couple dozen of over-lit, under-whelmed people who got free tickets. As a comic, I have to say, that really looked like a tough house.
Why are these debates so incredibly boring? Is it McCain telling us constantly he is our friend while he grimaces in a way that is friendly to no one? Or is it Obama keeping his cool despite all the idiotic lies and provocations?
At the end of the debate, Brokaw asked McCain to get out of the way of his Teleprompter. He might as well have been speaking on behalf of the future: Senator McCain can you please get out of the way so we can get on with it?