Beliefnet
Steven Waldman

When we look back, it may turn out that one of the most important, and brillaint strategic moves of the campaign, was when Obama asked the debate commission to have the first encounter be about foreign policy. Remember, the commission had proposed beginning with the economy. McCain suggested going to foreign policy — and, in a move that probably delighted and surprised the McCain camp, Obama also asked that the first debate be about foreign policy.
If the first debate had been about the economy, pundits would have been looking for Obama to win and show his dominance. That would have been very hard because McCain’s a good debater, and, despite all the juiced-up sports metaphors candidates almost never deliver “knock out blows” to other grown up nominees.
Since the debate was on McCain’s perceived strong suit, all Obama had to do was tie in order to win. The Obama people knew what the press apparently forgot and the McCain people never believed — that Obama has always been at least as strong if not stronger on foreign policy.than on economic policy.. We forget: he took off during the primaries because of his positions on the Iraq war, and struggled when it came to duking it out with Hillary on economics. I disagree with the pundit (and apparently poll) verdict that in the debate last night, Obama won on economics and McCain on foreign policy. I thought they were equally vague and off-point on the economy, and Obama was stronger on foreign policy.
In an economy debate a tie goes to McCain. In a foreign policy debate, a tie goes to Obama. The only way to not see this is if you, as a candidate, feel you’re so inherently superior to your opponent that you’ll be able to crush him. McCain may have felt that way about Obama and foreign policy, and thereby allowed his own self-confidence (arrogance?) to draw him into a no-win situation