# Posted 8:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP: The gem of the week was NBC's senatorial debate
between Rick Santorum and challenger Bob Casey. CBS
had Howard Dean and Mitch McConnell. ABC
had Joe Biden, followed by Lincoln Chafee and his GOP primary challenger Steven Laffey.
Santorum: C. In the past I have found him impressive. But he came across as a defensive and arrogant bully. I also wonder about the judgment of a politician who insists that we did find WMD in Iraq. Then, after Tim Russert challenged that assertion, Santorum fell back on the cop-out answer that we found some of Saddam's old chemical shells from the 80s.
Casey: C. Weak but nasty. He often let Santorum interrupt and bully him, but sometimes hit back in a way that seemed petty and vindictive. His attempt to straddle the fence on Iraq may not persuade anyone that he has either any good answers or any firm principles. Casey says we were misled into war, it's not part of the war on terror, but we can't have a timeline.
Howard Dean: B-. For a man who is supposed to "crash the gates" of the Democratic establishment, he sure has learned fast to spin like a talking-point pundit.
Mitch McConnell: D. Once again, he insists that Democrats will "wave the white flag in the war on terror." A minute later, he has the chutzpah to insist that he's "unaware of any Republican who's said critics of the war are unpatriotic." Well at least he isn't wasting time listening to his own drivel.
Joe Biden: B-. Admirably, he is less partisan than most other Senators. But he's become so boring that I only listen to him because I'm committed to doing these Sunday round-ups.
Chafee: B-. Eminently moderate and reasonably. But he comes across as lethargic, without any fighting spirit. In short, he's the GOP Lieberman.
Laffey: B+. I disagree with almost everything he says, but he is firm without being aggressive and seems to have a genuine passion for what he does.
Finally, although I've stopped grading the hosts, I think Tim Russert deserves mention for an excellent job of moderating the Santorum-Casey debate.
Russert made it a heckuva lot more interesting than the genteel (and often dull presidential debates) that take place every four years. Russert had no reservations about interrupting nonsense responses with additional facts that forced both of his guests onto the defensive. And, yes, he was equally tough on both sides.
Next week: Allen vs. Webb.
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