HALPERIN’S TAKE: What We Have Learned By Friday Early Evening About The Bush-Obama-McCain Appeasement Battle

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1. Both campaigns think they are winning this debate now.

2. Both campaigns think they will win this debate long term.

3. Both candidates looked good in their speeches.

4. After being lofty and strong in his speech, Obama might have been better off not getting in the weeds with a press conference.

5. Not a lot of talk about gay marriage today.

6. What the Bush White House is up to is still not clear.

7. Obama should be heartened by how on-message and firm other Democrats have been in rallying around him.

8. A McCain-led Republican Party is not going to be as effective in driving a my-opponent-is-weak-on-national-security message than a Bush-led Republican Party.

9. The Sunday show chatter will be dominated by this contretemps, and in the absence of public polling data, the speculating will be out of control and off the charts.

10. Biggest cliché of the next 72 hours: this is the start of (or: a preview of) the general election.

11. The Republican Party and McCain have an uphill battle in establishing moral authority in this fight because of the public and media moods.

12. Hillary Clinton, still in the race, is no distraction to Obama on this — and that means a lot.

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