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.
Obama ran in the primaries as a firebrand, generating a rich progressive aura. His general campaign has been absolutely faultless, and equally unexciting. However, for the longer term, it's not enough.
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..."
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.
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.
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?