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Debate Live: McCain Starts Quiet, Carries an Old Pen

To begin, McCain sounds a bit frail and tired, which draws down the hardass maverick caricature he’s been composing for himself.

Then he makes that crack: “What are you afraid I can’t hear him?”

It gets a laugh, and he takes some strength from it, finds his feet. Then he’s talking about bears, and then he pulls what looks like a permanent marker out of pocket and says he’s going to veto all spending bills. That’ll make government more efficient.