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Another debate, and now we can all pronounce "Nevada." Did we learn anything else?

Some random observations from Wednesday night’s debate:

After you hear the phrase enough times, "Stop and Frisk" begins to sound like a very unfriendly supermarket. We all know that defending the indefensible is impossible (and tiresome), and piling on “poor” Mike Bloomberg for his inability to do the impossible just sounded asinine after a while. He owns stop and frisk; it was wrong; he can't be president. Move on. Aside from those exchanges with Bloomberg, Warren had a good night, and so did Biden, but if they wanted someone to defend the indefensible, did they forget our current president?

At times Chuck Todd seemed to be reading for a part in Hamlet instead of asking a probing question. I doubt if he’ll get a call-back. And though this may not be politically correct, knowing the name of Mexico’s president, or China’s, or any other country with significance to the United States may be important, but not the deal-breaker it evolved into. It did give everyone on stage a chance to be petty, though only Buttigieg took the bait and swallowed the hook and sinker too; and Klobuchar’s rejoinder, "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," just sounded whiny. Her admission of a mistake was good enough; his refusal to accept it was annoying. Only Warren emerged from that exchange with a modicum presidentiality. (Yeah, that’s not a word, but now it is.)

I’m tired of Bernie’s paternalism. He doesn’t always know best. It may very well be true that in the long run his health plan will reduce costs and strike a blow at the big insurance and pharmaceutical giants, but speaking as someone who recently had to change doctors, I don’t like doing that. And I especially won’t like it if someone in the federal government insists it’s good for me. If Chuck Todd was reading for Hamlet, Bernie occasionally reminded me of King Lear, careening through the wilderness in the dark, frenzied and angry. I could carry the analogy further but don’t want to upset his followers. If his arrogance would allow him to give an inch, maybe the people who will stay home rather than vote for him won’t stay home. But what his followers consider unbridled energy, others may think of as pigheaded absolutism.

Joe Biden is alive and well and understands issues. Maybe he’s a 1980s statesman, but he’s a statesman, and at times last night, the only one. And if the MAGA people want to make the country great again, might as well go backwards, this time with an actual human being.

Kudos to Klobuchar for not telling the FDR story again or saying “I know you.” Her summary was strong and cogent.

Nobody was horrible, but they all had moments when the groans from the audience were multiplied a million-fold in living rooms across America.

As a commentator ruefully noted afterwards, nobody talked about the current threat to the rule of law. They called Trump names (all well-deserved), but seldom plumbed the depths of his lawlessness: the pardons, the dismissal of heroic members of the military. If the impeachment was too difficult to revisit, how about everything he’s done since? The Democrats missed their chance, though the eventual candidate will have quite a list of crimes and misdemeanors to choose from.

Note to the people screaming unintelligibly during Joe Biden's summary: nobody could understand you; nobody wanted to understand you; you sounded like a nursery when all the babies needed to be fed at the same time. Even so, in protesting Biden's immigration policies, they pointed out another failing in the debate: the inability or unwillingness to point out the inhumane villainy of the current president. And again these are questions the moderators didn't ask; it's hard to blame the candidates for not answering them...or the protesters for raising them.

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