Initial reactions to tonight's debate (which will be repeated tonight on CNN at Midnight EST, 9pm PST):
1. Ted Koppell, you may step down from the #1 Jackass platform. Larry King, please take Mr. Koppell's place. Self-important moron!
2. Edwards came as close to getting the one-on-one he said he wanted as the panelists treated Kucinich and Sharpton like nerds at a frat party, focusing most of their attention on the two front-runners. And he blew it. Mostly. The nice guy schtick needs to stop if he really wants to be President as he was handed several greased softballs to zing Kerry with and he refused to do so, complimenting and agreeing with him more often than drawing clear distinctions. The couple of times he did take a shot, he was vague and tentative about it, and at least once allowed Kerry to get a shot in at him, making fun of a Kerry-like long-winded answer. Meanwhile, he took a few hard ones from Kucinich and Sharpton.
3. Kerry caught a couple on the chin from the dynamic duo, too, but they were mostly along with Edwards so the overall damage was minimal. His strategy of focusing more on Bush, while annoying as hell, especially when used to dodge a question, was pretty successful. He also brazenly ripped off Edwards' "positive and optimistic vision" and "offering real solutions" lines without being called on it. Part of me is starting to believe a deal's been cut between them to continue the primary process as long as possible to keep the heat on Bush, but to use only rubber bullets on each other.
4. Kucinich and Sharpton, when they were given the opportunity to participate, were at the top of their respective games. Both made strong cases for their remaining in the race despite King's obvious condescending attitude towards them throughout the debate. If Edwards doesn't get his act together by Sunday's debate and come out hungry and ready to rumble, I'm throwing my support back to Kucinich. If I'm going to back a loser, it's going to be the one I believe in most.