I have to say last night's debate was thoroughly enjoyable and not just because Romney wiped the floor with Obama (what do you expect given he went about 23 rounds vs. Newt in the primaries). I enjoyed it because Jim Lehrer wasn't constantly cutting off the candidates (though he did seem to cut off Romney more than Obama) and instead generally let them have their say. I really don't enjoy the debates where all we see are dueling stump speeches with very little interaction between the principals. That really is no fun. Sure, you learn what they think about the EPA or the timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan but not how they got to their conclusion. Last night, you actually got that, especially from Romney who explained this thinking behind his positions and made people more comfortable with him as President. I know the Democrats are complaining because they feel that Lehrer was letting Romney talk, but if you watch the tape you can see he didn't and in the end Obama actually spoke for 3 minutes more. He could have had 20 minutes more, he still would have lost last night. On TV, he seemed tired, thin and old, kind of how Carter looked like next to Reagan and he kept making that upset frown of his every time Romney said something he didn't like. Did he not even bother reading up on debate history? How you look like when the other guy is speaking is very important. Constantly looking at the clock caused Nixon to lose the debate against JFK (as did looking shifty and sweaty), loudly sighing while W was speaking hurt Gore and looking at his watch hurt George H.W. Bush. But I guess Obama just wasn't into reading up on any of that, he thought the whole debate prep thing was "a drag".
I know most of these superficial problems are likely to be fixed in a couple of weeks but that will probably happen after Ryan and Biden meet next week and by then people may have cemented their views that the GOP has a very competent and caring ticket. Last night was probably the first time many people actually heard Mitt Romney speak for longer than a sound byte and that positive first impression will probably last a while. Plus, if Romney keeps preparing like this for all debates, I think the best Obama will do is a draw in debate #2 and #3.