OK Democrats, untie the knots in your panties, stop hyperventilating, and lay off of Jim Lehrer. Obama did not lose the 2012 election.
In debate number 1, we saw a desperate Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, adopt the persona of a pit bull (sorry pit bull lovers) to try to save his campaign. He came out swinging wildly at every pitch. He came off as a rude bully.
The Democrat, Barak Obama, was cool and seemingly having trouble engaging the way we know he can. He, like Romney, also ran over the allotted times, but was polite to the moderator as he did so.
Although style is the metric most commentators are focused on, the meaningful difference was substance: Romney dished out falsehoods and outright lies, Obama laid out facts and mostly truths. (Note: I tend to overlook the occasional blurring of fact in these events; after all, can anyone REALLY remember every single number and date and name, etc.?) The majority of media outlets I've looked at have done the fact- checking and have said that Romney was not being factual regarding a large number of his talking points.
Another point: who was this Mitt Romney? Certainly not the same one we've seen campaigning for way too many months. This is the classic shaking of the etch-a-sketch, and a new figure is drawn. Obama many times pointed out that this Romney was denying the programs and ideas and statements of the previous Mitt incarnation.
In the end, it comes down to this primary point: there is a basic difference between the Republican and Democratic view of government. This was very evident in the debate. Viewers need to get past the theatrics and listen to the words. It is a huge and growing divide in this country, a divide that cuts to the very core of who we are and who we will become as a nation. Maybe we won't survive as united states - remember the Soviet Union?
Finally - lay off of Jim Lehrer. I think he did an OK job with the difficult structure imposed on him by the Committee, and against a relentless bully. Should he have yelled at Mr. Romney to "shut the fuck up!?" Did he have a cut-off switch for Romney's microphone (no)? Both candidates, as I said before, ran over their time limits - typical for every debate of this sort. But there were numerous times when Obama acquiesced to the moderators insistence that they move on; Romney shouted him down at every attempt.
So bottom line: what's important is whether or not the debate changed the minds of voters and tipped the election in a different direction. It might have, but then again, maybe not - time will tell.
And so we wait for the next engagement.