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So far, this debate has been unprecedentedly confrontational and personal, and will surely be portrayed as such in the media and in post-debate spin. It will be noted that McCain attacked Obama on his associations with an ex-terrorist and a voter fraud organization, as if this should not be expected.

But in actuality this debate has been incredibly tame. The previous two were so tame they were almost unwatchably boring. The back-and-forth has been calm and barely peevish. No low blows. No sharp jabs. No derisive insults. By historic standards, this debate is a paragon of civil discourse. It probably won’t be presented as such.


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