Vegas Live: Who Needs Moderators?

The decision to let the candidates ask each other questions

risky, by cable-network standards

was probably the best part of the debate.

For one, it led to some of the most substantive exchanges of the night: Edwards asked Obama about lobbyist money. Obama asked Edwards about the question of residual troops in Iraq. And Hillary asked Obama whether he would co-sponsor legislation to require congressional approval for pacts with the Iraqi government.

The format also reveals a lot about the candidates. They’re judged for not just their answers, but their questions, too. It brings out the subtlety in their thinking, exposes when their thinking lacks subtlety, and shows how they perceive their opponents’ weaknesses. Plus, that’s a president’s job—to ask questions of people who know more than they do. So sometimes it’s more useful to know what questions your president will ask than what answers he or she will pretend to have.