The Democratic debate last night was significant and trivial, inspiring and infuriating, focused and chaotic. In short - it was a microcosm of our political system.
Personally, I found the constant focus on Hillary distracting and aggravating. At least half the debate was Hillary being attacked or Hillary defending herself. While it's true that the media and the Republicans have already dubbed her the winner, the intense focus on her set up an atmosphere of "trash Hillary" (which was pointed out by Bill Richardson). She's certainly my least-favorite candidate, but I thought the moderators and some of the other candidates could've done better to spread the time and topics around.
In fact, one of the most aggravating things about the debate was how little time was afforded the non-front-runner candidates. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards got most of the screen time, with Dodd, Biden, Richardson and Kuncinich getting what little scraps got tossed their way. This was a shame because Dodd had some VERY good answers and came off as someone who could inspire confidence among the electorate. Richardson made some good points as well.
Kucinich was a bit disappointing. Every answer seemed to include the phrase "I'm the only candidate on this stage who...". Yeah Dennis, we get it. You don't need to remind us with every single frikkin' answer.
Of course - it didn't help when Dennis gets asked about UFOs. I mean - come on.. - isn't that a bit insulting to have to answer a question like that when you're running for president? It seemed an obvious attempt by the media (yes - MSNBC is still the media) to paint him as the "wacko left". What a shame....
I found Edwards to once again be inspiring, focusing on the American people rather than politics (most of the time anyway). He made some good points about how Americans are always willing to help and sacrifice (such as during the Katrina disaster), and reminding everyone that the government belongs to the people. He also came off as humble and real. Good stuff...
One of the better aspects of the debate was the "lightening rounds". Candidates had 30 seconds to answer a question. It's always interesting to see who can answer a simple question and who tries to shove a 60 second canned response into the time alotted. Conclusion? All of them did at least one well, but most of them blew their time badly on the others.
In the end, I think Hillary got eviscerated, Obama came off as stumbly, Dodd showed himself to be leadership material, Edwards reinforced himself as the "people's honest candidate", and the rest broke even.