10/02/2008 11:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Palin's Progress, or: The Debate Was "Meh." And Meh Is Good for Obama.

The truth of the matter is that Palin came in well above the low bar that has been set for her. She didn't do better than Biden, clearly, but neither did she set the stage on fire, declare her allegiance to the Dark Lord, demand mandatory abortions for all, or begin reciting Das Kapital. Which is fine.

I should say upfront that I neglected to state my take on the first presidential debate here on Huffington Post because I held a debate-watch/going-away party for a friend of mine who quickly afterward moved to Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, as briefly mentioned in my print column on the subject, we held a drinking game in which the words at which we took shots were Fundamental, Maverick, and Change. It was tough.

This time, I maintained the same rules, but it was just me and my wife, so it didn't devolve into a dumb orgy of loud music, smoke-filled rooms, and unintelligible jabbering before the debate was even over. Point being, I had the chance to absorb the whole debate, and Sarah Palin did just fine. The problem with that is, just fine is not nearly good enough. All Obama needs to win is Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico, plus all the Kerry states. With those, he can lose Ohio, Virginia, and my own state of Florida, God help us, and he still wins.

Palin's progress from Couric till now is not enough to change the solid leads Obama has taken in nearly every tossup state. Indeed, the biggest news tonight will have nothing to do with the debate. No, the McCain campaign pulling out of Michigan will have far greater repurcussions than anything that happened at Washington University this evening.

So while I just got through the tail end of a bottle of Maker's Mark and a six-pack of Sam Adams on the bad end of a Vice-Presidential Debate Drinking Game, those aren't the only things that ended this evening. Despite Palin not utterly embarassing herself, tonight also marked the likely end of the McCain campaign.