I have now watched more than a dozen debates among presidential contenders. (Both D&R and all of them - I know someone has to do it). I have a couple of thoughts about the process so far.
First, I hope soon the American voter will come to the realization that they do not need a fourth grade bully as their President. Trump's behavior has been boorish and mostly non-substantive. His performance last night was over the top. His unwillingness to show up in New Hampshire cost him votes (it should have).
Second, while the free-for-all format of the GOP debates, even with six participants, is annoying each limitation of voices on the stage has improved the possibility that we find out something substantive about the potential candidates. I only wish the GOP leadership had been a bit more thoughtful about how to expose the views of candidates when the field was so large at the start. They could have gone with something like a round robin format with single or double elimination. The undercard format seemed capricious.
Third, I was annoyed at the performance of many of the moderators. The MSNBC debate was a joke. They should never get the opportunity to do that again. The moderator's questions were designed not to provoke understanding but to start fights between the candidates. At the same time the debates in the lane for the democrats have not given us much usable information. I was especially bothered that the two moderators from PBS did not think it was an issue to ask a single question about the FBI review of record's practices. None of us know where that line of inquiry will end up but the public deserves to understand better why the Former Secretary of State chose to set up a mostly unsecured server. And PLEASE don't use the progressive meme about Rice and Powell. There is a substantive difference between two emails to one Secretary of State from diplomats on country developments of a non-confidential nature and the email correspondence of aides to another Secretary of State (who did not use Email) on a commercial server like Gmail versus the deliberate actions of a Secretary of State to funnel email through a mostly unsecured private server located in the basement of your house.
Fourth, the remaining GOP candidates present some interesting choices. I like Ben Carson a lot - he has a compelling story and seems to be a bright guy - but he is not ready to be president. Cruz seems to be a very bright guy but also very unlikable - not a good potential start to a successful presidency. Bush was good last night and I think his record in Florida was admirable but I don't think the country is ready for a third Bush. That leaves Kasich and Rubio. I thought Rubio did well last night - so did Kasich. On the edge of who could get a reluctant congress to work on some complex problems I think Kasich seems to have the edge. But I think Rubio could do the job.
Finally, let's have a little more talk about the substance of Sanders and Clinton. I understand Sanders does not like Wall Street and bankers. But if he thinks Dodd-Frank was a great success and bringing back Glass-Steagal would be a good thing - he is deeply misinformed. Hillary Clinton continues to show herself as the "do whatever it takes" candidate. The morning after the debate some wag on Facebook showed HRC in an afro. The problem was based on her performance the night before it was not that much of a stretch. Sanders meeting with Al Sharpton was pandering of the worst kind (one wag put a photo of the meeting on Facebook which was captioned - the guy who wants to raise taxes speaks with the guy who does not pay them).
Let's see what South Carolina shows us. I suspect there will be some surprises.