I don't think we saw the same debate. I thought McCain did well. Mentioning Ayers can only help, right?
My issues were three-fold. First, he was more concerned about saying why Obama would not make a good president rather than focusing on why McCain would be a good one. Second, his economic plan still has no meat. It's just cut taxes. I like cutting taxes, but that ain't a plan. Oh, and the plan part that he does have, buying up all the bad mortgages, is a terrible idea. Third, I'll quote Yglesias, "he used a lot of right-wing echo-chamber jargon, never explaining what he meant about trial lawyers and scare-quote “health” and so forth. He doesn’t really speak to problems in people’s lives." What bothers me about that is not that it didn't speak to people's life problems. I think progressives focus to narrowly on people's economic well-being, but voters are concerned about moral and social issues as well. What bothers me is the not explaining what he meant when using the jargon. It leads me to believe that McCain is in the right-wing echo chamber and doesn't know it. For example, doing air quotes when saying the words "risk to a mother's health" is not an explanation. I know what he means, but I seriously doubt your average swing voter does. If it is supposed to be code to get out the base, well, that ain't gonna be enough this year.