Let the Expectations Games Begin

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From TIME’s Amy Sullivan

Straight from the latest McCain pool report, filed by the LA Times’ Bob Drogin, is this quote from advisor Mark Salter about what McCain hopes to achieve in tonight’s debate: “To do well, against a guy who’s a pretty good debater, show presidential leadership, and be able to speak directly to the American people about what he believes.”

For their part, the Obama campaign has just released a memo with the subject line “Home-field Advantage: John McCain”, which notes that “DEBATES ARE NOT A GOOD FORMAT FOR OBAMA,” and includes an excerpt from an AP article that calls Obama “lifeless, aloof, and windy” in debates.

The pre-debate high expectations campaigns attempt to set for their opponents are matched by the post-debate low bars they establish when spinning their own candidate’s performance. “He showed up, he made some points–I really think you have to consider tonight a clear victory for Senator [insert name here],” is what we can expect to hear this evening.

The only virtue to this annoying quadrennial exercise is that it provided material for one of the best Daily Show segments ever, from the 2004 campaign: