I do not see McCain as being as formidable as some people think. He was propelled though USNA, flight school and the Navy by the fact that his father and grandfather were 4 star admirals. The fact that he was 5th from the bottom of his class does does not mean he was a loser but neither is it an argument that he he has an impressive military background.
I question his war hero status. (23 unexceptional combat missions, 20 hours in combat). There are questions about his POW internment. He DID give more than name, rank and serial number. He has blocked access to North Vietnamese records. There is the story that he was in an apartment in Hanoi with prostitutes when he was supposed to be in solitary confinement.
His hot temper and bluster have given him apparent credibility as a warrior. I agree that he is perceived as a man of substance. I submit that he has gotten more credit than he has deserved. His repeatedly confusing Sunnis, Shiites and Al Qaeda tells me that he does not even have the most basic understanding of the players much less subtleties of Iraqi politics. Gen. Petraeus has said that violence will end when there is a political solution.
Obama’s 2002 speech (google obama oct 2002 iraq) showed depth and breadth of understanding. Based on readily available information, he put together a solid argument showing that Iraq would be a dumb war. Obama is smart, articulate and can think on his feet. he is more than a match for McCain.
Obama can say “The Iraq war should never have been authorized and never should have been fought ” That is a powerful argument against McCain’s insistance that it is a noble mission and must be pursued. Hillary could never make that argument.