It's classic Obama: a big risk with a big payoff. If he'd missed that shot, it would have been Michael Dukakis riding in the tank.
Of course, nailing the three pointer shouldn't matter. But that, and his overall positive reception from the troops, is going to matter far more to the low information, undecided sliver of voters far, far more than the much more substantive story, prime minister Maliki's support for Obama's timelines.
Because those undecided few don't care about Iraq, for chrissake. They care about the troops. They care about that kid from the grocery store who signed up for the Guard to save money for college who's now pulling his third tour, and they care about $4 gas.
McCain was clearly pwned in the battle of visuals, with this Two Old Guys In A Golf Cart shot with George HW.
McCain can't win, and he realizes this. He can only make Obama lose. He didn't even win the nomination, as much as everybody else lost it. The Mitt went to the wrong church, Huck couldn't raise the $$$ fast enough to consolidate on the Iowa win, Fred Thompson was the biggest disappointment since John Glenn and ran just strong enough to split votes one more way, and Rudy bet it all on a weak hand in Florida. (Ron Paul? He provided an exit ramp for future Bob Barr voters.) Or, as CQ put it, "McCain prevailed in part because both halves of the coalition had a different first choice: The social conservatives preferred Huckabee, and the business community preferred Romney."
To make Obama lose McCain needs to make Obama into George McGovern, a dangerous pacifist (despite his heroic WWII flying record) who would sell out Our Troops to make the liberal bloggers happy. Why do you think the latest McCain bio ad starts with five seconds of hippies? Not modern, college campus faux wannabees -- actual Haight-Ashbury, barefoot, braless, unbathed acid-poppin' hippies. I expect to see archival footage of Hanoi Jane Fonda herself in the next one.
Which is why this Obama clip is so important. Even in a staged event you can only stage so much. Remember, this is Defense Department pool video, and do you think for a second that George Bush's DOD is trying to make Obama look good? You go away with the impression that they like him and they trust this potential Commander in Chief to keep them safe AND bring them home. This is like Reagan in the There You Go Again debate, in that it undercuts John McCain's entire case.