What happened
The most recent Democratic presidential campaign debate continued to make headlines over the weekend, with front-runner Hillary Clinton’s staff insisting she won and a college student who asked Clinton “diamonds or pearls” insisting that CNN made her pose the question. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
“Voters deserve better,” said David S. Broder in The Washington Post (free registration). Both parties’ pre-primary debates have become an “exercise in theatrical artificiality rather than substance.” We never get to hear “the implications” of any of the candidates’ positions, because everyone’s just clamoring to get noticed.

Last week, it was CNN that chose "entertainment over substance," said Larry Parrish and Edie Butler in The Boston Globe (free registration). From the opening "cattle call of candidates" to the "last, frivolous question" about jewelry—handpicked by CNN—"the debate felt more like a pumped-up sports event than a debate among presidential candidates."

Don’t blame the viewers, or the people who hold the debates, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News (free registration). “It's the Democratic presidential candidates who are sleepwalking through history.” At last week’s gabfest, not one candidate mentioned “homeland security” or the “war on terror.”

“Too much of anything dulls the senses,” said Karen Heller in the Detroit Free Press (free registration). Maybe we’d all get more useful information if the candidates spent their time out talking to actual voters. “Forty-six debates in 40 weeks is too much for a country and its candidates to endure.”