...for running a smooth, fair, and representative debate tonight. Sometimes CNN gets it right. Blitzer focused questions and didn't try to make himself the show, and gave all the candidates equal time. Romney might have even been shortchanged a bit.
As to who won, who knows. There didn't seem to be any zinger or senior moments. A couple of things stood out-- Gingrich was hammered over illegal immigration by basically coming out for amnesty based on some kind of draft board panel he'd set up to decide their fate. Aside from the horrible image that brings to mind, it's impossible to decide whether to give Juan and his family amnesty because he's been here 25 years and goes to mass every week or Jose and his family, who's only been here 10 years and doesn't go to mass versus Ricardo who's been here 5 years but is attending school on his own nickel. Utter arbitrary chaos. The answer might play better in a general election against Obama, though.
Herman Cain seems less impressive with each debate. The political hits are taking their toll, it appears. Santorum and Huntsman did what they do on the far ends. Huntsman says America has lost trust in its institutions, which has been ongoing since Watergate, while suggesting nothing to fix it except electing him.
Bachmann always gives competent answers that belie her Hollywood-formed reputation, but gets no traction. Romney was his usual grinning self but had another capable debate, positioning himself well on everything. Perry still seems halting, even though he was the only one who made the Hizballah-Iran connection on a question about Syria (although Mitt handily shot down his Syria no-fly zone idea). Perry seems to like wild ideas, which may sink him.
Speaking of wild ideas, there's Ron Paul saying the Taliban just want us to leave their country, while quipping something about how the US was not attacked (although it wasn't clear if he meant 9/11 or something else). It really doesn't matter because his stock answer to all foreign policy questions is that we are at fault for engaging with the world except in some quaint 18th century way, while we live in a world with 21st century technology. We have no choice but to engage and form allies, but when we do we'll make enemies. And sometimes the crazier ones will attack us, as on 9/11. Someone as smart as him should understand that. Maybe during the next debate someone can ask whether he thinks the United States brought World War II on ourselves, just for fun.