While there are things to nitpick, I have to say the CNN debate was well done and thoughtful. With the exception of Don Lemon at one point insisting on a yes or no answer after the network said there would be none of that, I think they were able to navigate a range of relevant issues for Democrats and handled the time constraints of a crowded stage very well.
It is not easy to have that many strong personalities on stage and limited time for questions and answers. One of the silly criticisms I have seen is that Jake Tapper had the audacity to insist a candidate answer his question instead of veering off to what the candidate wanted to talk about. How dare he! That’s actually what made it good.
CNN forced the candidates to stick to sound clock management and speaking limits. They covered the field fairly. Some candidates certainly talked more than others, but that happens in every debate. They could not get to certain policy areas like foreign policy very much, but then they only had two hours.
Jakes Tapper and Dana Bash especially should be considered for moderator positions in the general election.
It did not stop there, though. CNN also did a very good job with post debate commentary, largely by ignoring Republicans and instead having a stage filled with Democrats of various political and ideological leanings. I think that worked very, very well.
In any primary, the concerns of the other party really are not that relevant, nor are the concerns of independents. This is about a political party selecting its nominee. The panelists covered the spectrum of diverse opinion within the Democratic Party from those who are very progressive to those who worry the progressive tilt will cost the Democrats the election. As always, Van Jones and David Axelrod were two of the most insightful people. Likewise, Anderson Cooper’s candidate interviews were great.
More of this, please. CNN should be commended for this. As often as I can raise complaints about something the network does, this was CNN at its best and the network should be proud.