The most striking thing about last night's presidential debate is what we didn't hear. McCain didn't bring up Ayres, Rezko, or Rev. Wright. He didn't tell us that Sen. Obama accuses the U.S. of doing nothing in Afghanistan but bombing innocents. He didn't accuse Obama of wanting to raise taxes on people making $42,000. He didn't say that Obama just showed up "out of nowhere."
The Sen. McCain who debated last night bore no resemblance to the Sen. McCain whose campaign has been throwing nothing but mud and asking, "Who's the real Barack Obama?" The John McCain who came to at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn comes from an alternate universe.
Except for an eruption of disdain that burst out in when he called his opponent, "that one," this John McCain pretty much stuck to issues while he puttered around the stage. He threw only the mildest of shopworn zingers ("nailing jello to a wall") and a short list of distortions, including the canard that Obama voted 94 times for tax increases. (Using the same dubious methodology that gets Obama to 94, McCain voted 105 times for tax increases since 2005 and nearly 500 times in his Senate career.)
It was a tacit admission that the core of his campaign is not working for anyone but the rabid base. It's a flop with undecideds and an energizer for Democrats. If you watched the CNN dial-o-rama to see how their panel of viewers rated the debate minute-by-minute you could see that anytime McCain went negative, the response flat-lined.
Mickeleh's Take: Who is the real John McCain? The fellow who showed up last night to debate, or the one that approves a steady stream of deceptive smear ads and whose running mate demagogues Obama as a pal of terrorists?