I actually thought the You-Tube aspect of the CNN debate would be utterly worthless. The idea of pre-screening the videos undermined the whole appeal of YouTube and the internet in general: immediacy and interactivity. That said, I thought the YouTube questions were better than Wolf Blitzer's moderation or anything Anderson Cooper would have been able to muster on his own.
I thought Hillary was the clear winner. Her answer on the question about Bush-Clinton families potentially being in power for 28 consecutive years was very well done. To paraphrase her response "It's not my fault that the current Bush got elected, in fact I thought somebody else was elected. Just vote for me on my merits." I am not sure that is a satisfactory answer but I don't know how I would do any better. I am surprised Obama or Edwards hasn't begun harping on this point.
Obama did ok. The man is obviously smart, charming, and he comes across well on TV. I was particularly impressed with how he finessed some of the faux populist questions: "Do your kids go to public school?; Would you be willing to work for the minimum wage while president?". He essentially called these questions for what they are, bs, but in far more eloquent terms.
Biden had another strong performance. I appreciate his candor.
I thought Richardson actually had a coherent response for once. He has up until now been a complete joke in these debates but given expectations for him he acquitted himself rather well.
Gravel is an absolute crank but I actually think he should be in both debates. I don't really think his views actually could be categorized as Republican or Democrat but he occasionally says pretty interesting things.
One of the things that I find absolutely depressing is when the moderators let the candidates completely duck questions. A classic example last night was what to do about the looming entitlement disaster. Most every rational observer will tell you that there are three basic tools that you have at your disposal: 1. Raise taxes 2. Cut Benefits 3. Borrow. A YouTube spot mentioned the first two options and asked the candidates which they favored. Did a single candidate actually answer this question. Of course not.