On NYT's Front Page: "Cranky," Forgetful John McCain

Alessandra Stanley's TV Watch analysis of the first presidential debate, "Beyond Ideology, a Collision of Generations," may have made Saturday's front-page, but it wasn't exactly crammed with hard news .After making subtle cracks about the "cranky" McCain's ageinappropriate for a front-page story in a national newspaper, Stanley concluded that McCainwas doomed.

The first presidential debate was more than a clash of ideology or temperaments. Barack Obama and John McCain did not even wrestle over the $700 billion economic bailout. Theirs was a generational collision, and at times it looked almost like a dramatic rendition of Freudian family tension: an older patriarch frustrated and even cranky when challenged by a would-be successor to the family business who thinks he can run it better....He deplored his opponent's "naïveté," though he stumbled slightly on the pronunciation of the Iranian president's name, and twice repeated that he had not been elected Miss Congeniality of the Senate - some viewers might have wondered if he had forgotten that he had already used that metaphor. When Mr. Obama was speaking, Mr. McCain was at times fidgety, grinning awkwardly and shifting from foot to foot.

The liberal Stanley concluded Obama won merely by looking "presidential":

Mr. Obama was not particularly warm or amusing; at times he was stiff and almost pedantic. But all he had to do was look presidential, and that was not such a stretch. Mr. McCain had the harder task of persuading leery voters that he can lead the future because he is so much part of the past.

He tried to remind viewers of his greater experience and heroic combat career, while also casting himself as a maverick outsider ready to storm the barricades. Mr. McCain wanted to be the true revolutionary in the room, but his is the Reagan revolution, and for a lot of people right now, it doesn't look like morning in America.