Here we go again -- round three, Obama and McCain, and this time in split screen!

Comment at 10:16 pm: McCain has been attacking Obama at every chance, and I guess this should be expected, at what's essentially the 11th hour of a lame campaign. But spending all this time on the attack reduces the time McCain spends on promoting his own ideas or plans. At one point, he passed up a chance to elaborate on his latest economic proposals because the moderator, Bob Schieffer, apparently had sufficiently summarized them and McCain had some darts to throw.


Earlier comments:

As expected, the desperate McCain came out punching -- bringing up Obama's association with William Ayers and ACORN, condemning Rep. Lewis's statements over the weekend, and blasting Obama for spending millions on negative ads. Obama on the defensive, but not on the ropes, answering each charge without stumbling and countering McCain with some of the statements made by the nut-jobs at Palin rallies last week. They're sparring -- and in split screen!

McCain is scoring some points here with the judges, ladies and gentlemen. Obama just smiled and skipped around the issue of how much money his campaign is spending on ads.

McCain is coming across crusty and testy and tough, but he blinks a lot. Obama smiles a lot. He's cautious and maybe just a little too cool.

McCain pulls out Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, a guy from Ohio who McCain says will never be able to live the American dream if Obama is elected. He says Obama, who had an ecounter with Joe on the campaign trail, would tax Joe The Plumber at a rate that would keep him from owning his own plumbing business. This didn't make much sense because Joe The Plumber would have to be already making $250,000 a year in order to be taxed further under Obama's plan. And if Joe The Plumber is in that kind of position, is there a case here? Is Obama's plan really going to stifle Joe The Plumber? (Read the latest report on working poor families, and you'll see why Obama's tax plan is probably getting some traction among working class people.) By one estimate, nine out of 10 owners of small businesses make less than $250,000 a year and would not be taxed further under Obama's proposals.  . . . So, nice try by McCain, but that punch didn't cause much damage. Rupert Murdoch's pro-McCain New York Post made a big deal out of Obama's exchange with Joe The Plumber the other day, so take that for what it's worth.

McCain says Obama wants to "spread the wealth," and God forbid we should do that! In the midst of the Wall Street mess and the federal bailout, I think loads of Americans are ready for some redistribution. More evidence of how out of touch -- "I think I own seven houses" -- McCain is.

McCain just compared the rate of taxation of small buisnesses in the United States with the rate of taxation of small businesses in Ireland, saying it's only a third of what's paid here. That's a wonderful comparison, senator -- a nation of 300-plus million and a massive defense budget versus a nation of 4.4 million and lots of sheep.

9:55 PM:  Obama just said we should "look at" offshore drilling. What does that mean? That sounds like he wants to get on board the drill-baby-drill team.

I love the split screen, but I'm not sure McCain knows it's happening. He either doesn't know or doesn't care. As Obama's speaking, McCain is blinking a lot and grinning and betrays an eagerness to respond that almost bursts through his cheeks. He takes notes while Obama speaks, and he's like the kid in class who can't wait to raise his hand and get in the next point.