One peeve: This prez debate might be very different theater than the first -- I wouldn't know, I'm listening on the radio. But it does share the first debate's backward-looking, boasty, I-told-you-so quality. I warned about this or that disaster du jour first! No, I did! "There were some of us that stood up two years ago and said we've got to enact legislation to fix [Fannie and Freddie]," said McCain, petulantly. "I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, and told them this is something we have to deal with, and nobody did anything about it," Obama retorted. What do you want, a ribbon?

I guess this is the product of a campaign run so much, on both sides, on the question of "judgment"; both candidates are obsessed with proving they've had the clearest crystal ball. But their boasts just don't really feel believable. Neither of them could have anticipated the full scope of the current meltdown, or they would have been glimpsed years ago roaming the halls of the Senate and wailing like Cassandras. More than that, the back-patting is irritating because it cuts into the time they otherwise use to answer the more interesting question, Where do you mean to take us next?

Eve Fairbanks