McCain accused Obama of not knowing the difference between a tactic and a strategy, but the debate showed instead that McCain doesn't understand whom he's dealing with, and that he's gotten hung up on tactics over strategy in his own campaign. Obama has clearly been studying McCain's speeches; this became obvious when he delivered the perfectly timed counterpunch about the bracelet from a soldier's mother.
Also, he knows that he has to be careful how he appears to the public because subconscious racial perceptions are still a challenge for him to overcome. So he wisely presented himself as sincere, likable, caring about the ordinary person. This is already true, but he has to perform it and not just say it. In case anyone here questions whether Obama wasn't aggressive enough, all the public opionion polls showing that he "won" suggest instead that he hit the right tone and reached additional voters. Yes, the debate wasn't a knockout, but Obama convinced me more than ever that he's a master strategist, and that he doesn't lose sight of his larger goals in the campaign.
Conclusion: Obama is a terrifically smart man who'll make a strong president. I think that he'll do a great job, insofar as it's even possible in our crazy environment, at reaching across party lines to negotiate deals in Congress. He'll also stand his own against any foreign leader in a crisis. John McCain knows a lot about foreign policy and has the benefit of military experience, but his tendency to behave rashly and his lack of control over his facial expressions and body language will ultimately work against him at the crucial moment. The debate reveals this as a subtle, but fatal weakness for McCain. Obama, on the other hand, should never be underestimated as a politician and as a leader. I'm having more and more confidence that when he's elected (please please please!), he'll be fully able to meet the awesome challenges that face him.
To see Obama's skills in action, read the Washington Post article by Jonathan Weisman, cited elsewhere in DailyKos shows how Obama turned McCain's on stunt--the trip to Washington against him by pushing him to commit to one plan or the other.
Here's a choice paragraph:
The rest of the actors poured out of the room still highly agitated. Democrats clustered in the hall between the lobby and the Oval Office, pressing Bachus to explain what had happened to the deal. The Democrats discussed whether to go before the cameras waiting in front of the White House, but Obama refused. Without McCain next to him, he said, he would be skewered for using the White House as a backdrop. As the talk grew louder, Obama asked if they could duck into a room, and back they went to the ornate, windowless Roosevelt Room.
This guy is a true leader, and a smart one!