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McCain in many ways ran a campaign more in sync than Obama's with the 24-minute cycle. The media wanted drama, and he gave it to them. Here's a surprise V.P.! Here's a new message! My campaign's off! It's back on! Obama, for all his campaign's use of social networking, online fund-raising and e-mail-rumor debunking, ran a comparatively sedate media campaign.
We don't know yet which strategy worked. But the pundits who have analyzed the candidates' styles may be missing something. McCain has promised a "steady hand on the tiller"; Obama, a cool head in a crisis. I suspect that part of what the country wants after more than a year of rabid electotainment is a firm hand on the volume dial--a calming response not just to the economy or to partisanship but also to the incessant shrieking, browbeating, Chicken Littling of the media. They want someone to push not Refresh but Pause.
That seems clear to me now, anyway. But ask me again in 24 minutes.