Barack Obama and John McCain's Debate—Joe the Plumber and Bill the Bomber

Debate No. 3 passes without any reality-shifting moments.


We heard more about Joe the Plumber than we did about Bill the Bomber.

But will either man spur a momentum shift away from Barack Obama and toward John McCain? Nope.

McCain had his strongest performance of the debates, but it will ultimately prove too little, too late. Senator, I'm no George W. Bush! Good line. It would have been a better—and perhaps cutting—line two debates ago.

William Ayers finally surfaced, but I got the impression that McCain introduced him without enthusiasm. He passed up a couple of opportunities to mention him—then finally brought the so-called domestic terrorist into the mix. "I don't care about an old, washed-up terrorist," McCain said. OK, Senator, so why are we talking about him?

Then it went away, and things came back to Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher.

For his part, Obama brushed aside Ayers and ACORN with dispatch. Obama did what he needed to do: lie low and avoid the big mistake.

There were other moments. McCain described ACORN as the greatest menace to face our democracy since who knows when; McCain dismissed women's health concerns as being part of the radical "pro-abortion" agenda. In both cases, McCain was speaking shorthand—people who haven't followed the ACORN nonsense, on the one hand, and people who aren't ardent pro-lifers, on the other hand, would be lost or offended.

Where does this leave us? Same place we were yesterday and last week.