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No fireworks in Round One of Obama-McCain clash

By Jimmy Orr / September 27, 2008

If you were waiting for a knockout punch in last night's presidential debate, you had to wait until the very end and it never happened. What fireworks did occur came late in the debate and they really weren't the Fourth of July Washington monument type. They were more like sparklers or snakes.

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But in living rooms across the country - that's where things were getting more heated. Armchair quarterbacks were yelling at their candidate, "Say this!" And "Don't let him get away with that!" Or "Quit saying you agree with him!" And "Don't do that weird smile."

But in the end the debate was called cerebral, presidential, sober, substantive, and "a relief."

And the winner is...

How'd they do? If you didn't have a firm opinion, you could always drop by the most bizarre spectacle in modern presidential history -- "The Spin Room." This is where the most partisan political operatives hang out to try to persuade the media who won the debate and why. It's got as much surprise as Clay Aiken's announcement earlier this week.

As Jeff Greenfield from CBS News told the Chicago Tribune, "They are the most ludicrous, useless element of the entire political campaign. I cannot fathom what anyone gets out of these things."

"As this thing has developed or mutated, it's become a parody of itself," he said. "Some of these people will pour into the spin room before the debate even ends, which is particularly amusing because you kind of wonder what would happen if, in the last seconds, one of the candidates said, 'All praise to Satan.' These poor schlubs would still say, 'I thought he did a pretty good job.' They've become utterly useless."

So, we'll take the advice of Leslie Nielsen and "Move on. Nothing to see here."

The media "strategerizers"

This is better quality stuff. At least there is an attempt to analyze the debate with some sincerity. When David Gergen or George Will speak, for example, you can pick something up. You may not agree with what they have to say. But it seems to be more level. Gergen thought McCain needed more ooomph.

"From John McCain's point of view, he had to make something happen tonight because the election started drifting toward Barack Obama," Gergen said. "He needed to find a way tonight to reverse the momentum. I don't think he did that."

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