9:03 PM: I know I'll probably hear from all 37 of Martin O'Malley's supporters. But by what standard is he up on the stage. Actually a serious question.
9:07 PM: This isn't about the debate per se. But assuming that ISIS is behind the Paris terror attacks, I hope this will focus us on a basic point: we may not have the luxury of really trying to destroy ISIS while also insisting on the end of the Assad regime, keeping Iran out of Syria, keeping Russia out of ISIS, etc. etc. etc. ISIS is a unique threat - not simply or even mainly to the United States but to our allies in the immediate region, to our European allies. Really to everyone. It is a preposterous policy to be actively engaged against both main sides in a civil war.
9:14 PM: Interesting that Hillary has been quickly put on the defensive on this question - to the contrary of what I wrote below.
9:16 PM: So much better to have one knowledgable, articulate moderator than a bunch of yahoos either trying to cater to media bias nonsense or go off on obscurantist digressions.
9:19 PM: I'm very curious why Hillary seems so defensive here on what should be her prime turf. It's not altogether clear whether it's that Sanders is doing well, that the questions are cutting against her, whether she's flailing or something else. But she definitively seems - feels - on the defensive. One thing I would say is that Dickerson has come back at her again and again, pointing out possible contradictions, shortcomings from our tenure, etc. She's the overwhelming frontrunner. So that's not a crazy decision. But he does keep bringing it back to her.
9:26 PM: Okay, no question. I cannot think of a single time in this half hour so far when Dickerson has pressed Sanders in any real way on these issues. But he keeps coming back at Clinton again and again. Not saying its fair or not. But I think it's unmistakable that it is happening ... And to be clear, I don't think his questions are unfair. I think they're quite well-chosen and incisive. But they're all coming at her.
9:34 PM: Fascinating opening round of the Democratic debate. Worth saying at the outset that it was quite substantive and focused, as presidential debates go. Dickerson is very good at this. Surprisingly, though, Hillary Clinton was consistently on the defensive, though that shifted a bit just before the commercial break. There's no question that Dickerson kept coming back at Hillary pressing her on contradictions in her views and also in her tenure as Secretary of States.