Today’s editorials have been dominated by talk of yesterday’s third and final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. Here’s a roundup of the major editorials.

The final presidential debate was the best by far. Mr McCain drew sharp contrasts with his opponent. He insisted that Mr Obama believes that the government has the answers to America’s problems whereas Mr McCain puts his trust in ordinary people (in one amusing slip of the tongue he seemed to address Mr Obama as “Senator Government”). He dwelt at length on an offhand comment that Mr Obama made to a small-businessman called Joe the Plumber about “spreading the wealth around”, instantly turning Joe into the most famous plumber since the operatives who broke into the Watergate complex. — Economist

Joe the Plumber cuts to the heart of the Presidential choice. Whether or not last night’s much-improved debate performance helps John McCain rally in the polls, at least voters finally got a clearer sense of the policy differences. For our money, the best line of the night was Mr. McCain’s Freudian slip of referring to Barack Obama as “Senator Government.” Neither candidate is offering policies that meet the serious economic moment. But Mr. McCain would let Americans keep more of their own income to ride out the downturn, while Mr. Obama is revealing that his default agenda is to spend money and expand the government. Wall Street Journal

The final debate. In another astonishing exchange, Mr. McCain acted as though he was the truly aggrieved party, insisting that he had repudiated all of the attacks on Mr. Obama by surrogates and “some fringe people” at rallies. He didn’t mention that his running mate, Sarah Palin, is one of the loudest attackers, and he certainly didn’t repudiate her absurd, repeated charge that Mr. Obama has been “palling around with terrorists.” — New York Times

Peter Fray

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