Pre-debate prediction: Big discussion post-debate, over days, not tonight, is on Schieffer, especially if either candidate scores a decisive victory, whatever that is. He’s under a lot of pressure, and I’ll bet he asks some…uh…ummm…”provocative” questions. (Read: Irrelevant.) CBS needs ratings, too, though I can’t imagine they’re not going to get some, anyway.

I think I’m going to watch on CNN. The dials are funny. And the Pundit Pie Charts are even funnier.

Instead of trying to get particular moments and quotes accurately, I’m going to try something different and do some question by question or segmental summaries.

12 minutes to go. “The Scoffstra at Hofstra?” Not very good. Hofstra is hard to rhyme.

Over-under on “my friends.” (16)*. I’m sure McCain’s handlers have told him to stop using it to the tune of 22 in the last one. But it’s McCain’s thing.

3 minutes to go!

First question! Is Obama a Muslim and a terrorist, or just black and a negro? Just kidding. Still a minute or two to go.

Real first question: Economy. New plans. Whose is better?

McCain and Obama: Boiler plate boredom.

Taxes: Borrringgg! (Caveat: I favor the trashing of the tax code.) Uh oh! “Spread the wealth around!,” says McCain. Socialist! Class warfare!


Question: Deficit. You’re both going to increase the deficit. Programs postponed?

Good answer by Obama. I liked it a lot. Investment, not spending. McCain: Uh-oh. “Across the board spending cuts” from McCain. I know how to save! (McCain knows a lot he’s not telling us.) “Earmarks account for 1/2 of 1% of the total budget.” Only informed people know this. Minus for Obama.

No, you can’t balance the budget, Senator McCain. ZING! You should have run four years ago if you wanted to run against President Bush! The audience loves it!

ZOMG! Obama is losing according to Paul Begala! Blowout!

Gergen: 1-1. The never-shrill one. LOL.

Uh-oh: High road. Here we go! The terrorist question! Negative campaigning!

McCain first: McCain: Never would’ve gone negative had Obama just agreed to my terms. Yikes! Goin’ after the black guy, John Lewis! Gonna be an interesting response!

Obama: Lousy answer. Predictable and boilerplate. Playing it too close to the vest.

Is Gergen awake? Still 1-1. Cracking me up.

McCain calls equivalence on campaign loonies. Will probably work. Obama pivots away from the issue. I would have said, “Fuck you! NO ONE in my events is asking for you to be killed!” And McCain jumps in on Ayers and ACORN. *sigh*

The proverbial line doesn’t seem to be favoring McCain on this track. McCain may have sensed it, switches back to taxes. Schieffer says we have to get back to that.

Running mate! (Chicks are digging Obama far more love than McCain; Dudes the opposite.) McCain: Women are not liking Sarah Palin in this focus group. She understand reform, McCain says, just after the AK investigation says she abused her power. McCain is pretty proud of her. Calculated risk: Obama says the American public will judge Palin, but passes altogether on the ethics charge.

Interesting. I would’ve brought it up, but I’m a way bigger dick, and even blacker than Obama. And I’m done underestimating his political acumen.

(Ed. I still think the Media will call this a win for McCain, so the insta-polls will be interesting in that environment)

Free Trade: *yawn*

Blah blah blah. Every person I know, of either political stripe, agrees we have to get off foreign oil.

McCain goes Hugo. Not the hurricane, the leader of Venezuela.

Health Care: Control costs? Or expand coverage?

Obama: Both.

(Ed. Can’t help but notice. If this dial focus group is any indication, Obama is going to win the female vote in a big way.)

McCain: Fines! Obama handles it well. Sure interested in the instapolling at this point. Exempt small businesses. McCain’s answer is cratering among the dialers.

Roe v Wade! Yikes! Could you nominate someone who didn’t agree with you?

McCain: Roe v. Wade, bad decision. States rights! God, has this argument been destroyed. Obama gives a good answer, McCain goes inside-politics. The lines between the genders on CNN between men and women are striking.

McCain is popping his fuse. Again, a striking gender difference on the line.

Education: Last question. We spend a lot on education, but we suck.

Obama does OK. Parental responsibility. McCain. Civil rights? Men and women again diverge quite a bit. Blah blah blah. McCain not doing so well on this one. Head Start good. Women and men again diverge wildly.

Summary: Gender gap. Closing statements. Final statements. Bummer for McCain, he goes first. The under wins on “my friends” by a mile. America needs a new direction. (!) Stop spending! Turst. Men trust him.

Obama: Huge gender gap! Did I mention that this was the story?

Done. Post debate time!

Quick rundown: McCain won, says the pundocracy! Because he didn’t lose! And he was intense and aggressive!

I’m gonna look for the first instapoll, and wait until tomorrow.

*As I can count them

Update: CNN poll gives it to Obama, big. Game over. Ouch, if you’re McCain. CBS broader margin for Obama. Quick summary here.