Duking It Out over the Debate and the Bailout

The presidential race is now entering a new phase: the debates, the battle over the debates and the battle over credit -- or blame -- for the bailout. But the larger question remains: has the dynamic of the race been permanently altered or is this a period of flux, which will only be resolved when the last spin from the last debate subsides?

The reviews from the debate trickled in over the weekend. Many on the left were infuriated Barack Obama did not do better. And among the pundits there was some agreement. Whether it was David Broder or Maureen Dowd, there was a suspicion that Obama had been insufficiently resolute and allowed John McCain to prevail by remaining on offense. Nevertheless many in the media clung to the notion that while McCain might have won, it would not be "enough" to change the storyline of the race.

The Obama camp whined that McCain had been condescending by asserting that Obama "didn't understand," but neither the mainstream nor the conservative media seemed to be buying that one. The real danger for Obama: that his inability to recall the name of the slain soldier on his bracelet would become an iconic gaffe moment akin to George H.W. Bush's glancing at his watch in the face off with Bill Clinton in 1992.

But the Friday debate aftermath was eclipsed by the battle over the bailout. By Sunday morning it appeared there was a deal, albeit one that needed to be reduced to writing and sold to members of each side. Drafting proceeded during the day and the measure was finally put up on a website -- which promptly crashed. (Metaphor alert!) The Republicans had struggled mightily and succeeded in knocking out a provision which would have sent "profits" from the resale of mortgage-backed securities to ACORN, the left-wing group which has been the subject of numerous voter fraud and corruption investigations (and for whom community organizer and lawyer Barack Obama once worked). They also had to beat back a last minute attempt to pass an automatic "fee" -- that is a massive tax -- on security firms if the government did not recoup its loses in negative auctions of the so-called "toxic" securities it acquired in the bailout. The end product did appear to be "better" than what had been feared.