If we learned anything from the 20-odd debates of the Democratic primary, it's that the sit-down debate is not geared for fireworks. They tend to be a bit sleepy, and depending on the size of the table and its placement on stage the feeling can be cold, spare, and cavernous.
McCain is going to be at a disadvantage on the optics -- his lack of stature is going to be most acutely apparent in this setting.
Unless McCain's got some sort of real Ayers bombshell up his sleeve, there doesn't seem to be much risk for Obama on this front. Nearly half of the electorate has no direct recollection of this 60's flashback. The Acorn "scandal" is similarly a clear diversion from the pocketbook issues people are concerned with. Today, the stock market is giving back most of the gains from its Monday rally. McCain's financial rescue plan is literally more of the same -- most of it goes to millionaires.
I honestly think McCain has more to fear from Obama.
Obama has pulled his punches in the previous debates. Where hasn't he hit McCain? The Republican wants to privatize Social Security -- even though the stock markets have killed $2 trillion worth of wealth Americans were hoping to retire on. How does he pay for his health plan? By carving out $1.3 trillion out of Medicare and Medicaid. This is a guy whose proudest accomplishment as a politician was killing catastrophic health-care coverage for seniors.
When the American public feels like it's teetering on a tightrope, the last thing it wants to see is a man with scissors down below shredding what's left of the safety net.