Random thoughts on last night’s debate

— The candidates obviously negotiated some sort of detente in the wake of this week’s race and gender controversies. They took some swipes at each other, but the overall tone was quite positive, and it reflected well on them.

— Tim Russert’s entire shtick consists of “gotcha!” He seemed to spend the entire evening trying to trip the candidates up in one minor inconsistency or another. “In old photographs, you appear to be younger — but now you are clearly older! Explain THAT!”

— The entire first segment of the debate was utterly issue-free, entirely about horse-race issues, Hillary crying, Obama being black, that sort of thing. Russert and Williams should really be ashamed of their priorities; it was as if they set out determined to prove the worst blogosphere stereotypes about them true.

— It’s well and good to blame the current economic meltdown on the Bush administration’s deliberate lack of regulatory oversight, but we shouldn’t forget that it was Hillary Clinton’s husband who pushed the repeal of Glass Steagall, which made the current mess possible.

— Obama says that if we could solve the problem of nuclear waste storage, then we should build more nuclear plants. Great, and if we can teach pigs to fly, we should all lie back on a pleasant patch of grass and enjoy their delightful aerial antics.

— At what point will the networks understand that email is no longer an exciting new technology, but rather just another mundane fact of life? It’s not as bad as the You Tube snowman, but it seems somewhat silly to have someone standing in front of a laptop reading off an occasional “email question,” as if three or four of these over the course of the evening somehow constitute a groundbreaking application of exciting new interactive technologies.

— For all the nitpicking one can (and will) do, it’s nice to see relatively rational people vying for leadership, in contrast to the travelling freak shows that are the Republican debates. Not to mention being able to string a succession of words together into coherent sentences, unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office (who even the R’s are doing their best to erase from collective memory, hence their frequent invocations of a President who left office twenty years ago.)

… also, meant to mention: totally lame to exclude Kucinich. At this point, anyone still in the running should be part of the discussion. I don’t need Tim Russert deciding whose voice I should and should not be listening to.