Some quick notes on the Democratic debate in Las Vegas (the rebroadcast of which I watched beginning at 5:35 this morning on C-SPAN2):

1. When Barack Obama finally had to answer the "driver's license for illegals" question, his position proved even more confusing and seemingly half-baked (even with two weeks to think about it) than Mrs. Clinton's now famous hiccup.

2. All candidates seem to agree that if we just get the federal government MORE involved in education, everything will be coming up roses. Most of them don't like "no child left behind," which up until now has been the most extensive federal intervention in education ever. Why? The current program is tainted by Bush fingerprints. No surprise there. One thing on which they all agree: the President has never done anything right. But they all promise to get a centrally managed national education infrastructure off the ground and correctly supervised, which will solve all current problems. By the way, they also agree that the teachers unions are doing a heckuva job.

3. Bill Richardson said (in essence, twice) "democracy and human rights" in foreign lands trumped vital national interests. Obama and a few others said we could do both. The adults (Hillary Clinton being one of them) explained that our hallowed American principles should drive foreign policy, and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive with national interest--but, sometimes, they diverge. When this happens, a president takes an oath to protect national interests (not promote democracy and human rights abroad). It was a telling exchange.

4. Richardson, Kucinich, and Obama all called the "surge" a failed strategy and called for an immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq. Mercifully, Clinton was not asked to comment on the obvious success of the surge. I would have liked to hear her answer.

5. Hillary nailed the "gender card" response. Wolf Blitzer asked if anyone else wanted to follow her. Everyone but John Edwards wisely stayed mum. Edwards, the most feminine candidate on the stage, prattled on a bit about equality and fairness and then tailed off. Did I hear a niner in there?

6. Hillary is back. Obama and Edwards are where they have always been (number two and a distant third, respectively).

7. CNN was okay. Wolf Blitzer is not nearly as talented as Tim Russert or Brian Williams, but he is a pleasant fellow. The audience participation portion was worthless. Anyone want to talk about questions that are stiff and staged? They were all out of central casting in terms of what Democrats think Americans look like.