Which Obama Will Be at Tonight's Debate?

When we treat a debate as a chance to show the public how much smarter we are than the other guys, we lose.

Now that we know John McCain will show up tonight, the question is: Which Barack Obama will show up tonight?

When Obama and McCain sat down with pastor Rick Warren for their first pseudo-debate, Obama was calm, thoughtful. He took care choosing his words, often peppering his sentences with "uh"s and "y'know"s (which Obama pronounces "yo") while he found just the right one. Though the questions dealt with the most profound issues - life and death and families and evil - Obama showed little emotion in his voice, and even less on his face. His attitude seemed to be that he was there to give us some insight into his carefully considered thought process.

He got his butt kicked.

Last week, as the financial turmoil unfolded, as Obama spoke before large crowds in battleground states, he found his voice. He indicted McCain and the fat cats that run his party for gambling away America's financial strength. He frowned, he gestured widely and boomed out "I have a message for John McCain..." He gestured like he was sprinkling seeds to illustrate the GOP's laughable "trickle-down" philosophy. Then he smiled and chuckled and made a crack about the old boys' network being a McCain staff meeting. He was strong, he was fun, he was emotionally engaged and accessible.

He was the guy we have been waiting for.