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About halfway through tonight’s debate, when I wasn’t really paying very close attention, I realized: Obama’s playing the four corners defense. It’s an infuriating old basketball strategy, which the shot clock was implemented to prevent (or, in this case, Tom Brokaw), in which a team with a big lead just tosses the ball around until the clock runs out. In other words, I think Ben’s right:

“For a politician with an easily exaggerated tendency to caution, this was a very, very cautious Obama performance. I’ve never seen him shade his views so closely to the prevailing (and badly off-kilter) Washington consensus as he did tonight.”

And Roy Edroso:

“I sympathize with their dolor. Obama was low key and, it must be said, sometimes evasive, but it got him over.”

To a certain extent, this can be laid at the feet of Tom Brokaw, for whom the nation’s biggest crisis seemed to be please follow the rules, please and who cribbed pretty heavily from Jim Lehrer. (Maybe I can’t take him seriously because I think he’s always just about to say “A fireball destroyed France today, and Gehrrrrald Forrrd is dead.”)

Who won this pitcher’s duel? Who knows–I thought it was probably a draw, and maybe even with a bit of an edge to McCain, who seemed more engaged and, at times, empathetic. More from Roy Edroso: “Might it be that McCain is unconsciously telegraphing, so to speak, a painful awareness that he’s not the man he’s been asked to play on TV? I hope so — that man may yet be President.” Perhaps he was simply passing the low bar of his running mate and his campaign, but I was slightly impressed. The polls seem to disagree with me.

McCain even threw in a surprise, the only one of the night: a plan to buy $300 billion worth of bad mortgages to stabilize home prices. It might not be a bad plan, but it’s not going to go over well with the base. He’s really boxed in on a lot of issues.

Bonus debate meta-drinking game!

Drink when someone makes a drinking game

Drink when someone liveblogs a debate and updates about what they’re drinking

Tomorrow’s outrage today

That One. Know it. Fear it. Figure out what the fuck it means.

About that projector

“It has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.”