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My play-by-play for this debate lacked value judgments, but I can now confidently say Jim Lehrer won the debate. It’s not just that I consistently argue for the indefensible especially when free dinner is on the line — I do think Camus’s Stranger and Beowulf are very similar by the way — it’s that Lehrer perfectly represented the average viewer-voter.

“But wait, how are you different?” “Um... excuse me— you’re way over time...” Yes, Romney was more composed and actually invoked numbers where Obama did not. But I seriously doubt anyone not dolled up for television news will remember this debate as a clear Romney victory. This was just another forum for two Harvard-educated 42-longs to pretend like they’re radically different. Jim Lehrer was the voice of the most honest man who spoke tonight.

Forget, @haikustory@SilentJimLehrer is where it's at! Even though most people reading this post have researched their positions for this election, millions of American haven’t. Frankly, millions of Americans will do their public duty by not voting at all. The reasonable, attentive reaction to this debate tonight is indeed: “Um... well... all right.” Are Obama and Romney anti-Christ and Jesus Christ respectively or vice versa? Many don’t think that starkly.

But almost everyone talking about this election will argue it is black and white, life and death. It’s not just that this is the only news they have to report for the next month, it’s also that public attention routinely makes mountains out of molehills.

“The media is awful. Nobody cares anyway.” That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that many Americans caught some of this debate, will tune in occasionally over the next month and will then vote on November 6 for whoever they feel safe with. Since both candidates seem ready to go to war with Iran, I’m not voting for either of them. (That’s not the only reason I’m not voting for them. It was just a good way to end.)

For a full recap of tonight's debate, including real-time play by play and analysis, see here.