Bernie, Hillary, and the Battle for New York

There's nothing like some fireworks to make two talking heads more interesting.

Though at times the Democratic debate devolved into a shouting match that made me long for the civilized debates of yore, it was rarely boring and mostly substantive. But if the candidates hoped to sway voters Thursday night in Brooklyn, it was probably not their night: Clinton supporters will say she won - Bernie voters will claim victory.

Here are some takeaways from the night, in no particular order.

Tone and Tenor - The crowd was raucous, the candidates combative. They were loud, angry, and unrelenting on the usual themes. If they seemed tired of each other when the debate opened, they were just plain tired by its close. But as the night progressed, Clinton showed herself to be a cooler customer. Sanders kept up the angry, smirking, finger-wagging persona that gets old fast. He was more effective when he took it down a notch and explained his positions calmly.

Memorable lines:
Clinton: "Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I've been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first."
Sanders: "Incrementalism and those little steps are not enough."
Clinton: "It's easy to diagnose a problem. It's harder to do something about a problem."
Sanders: "Public colleges and universities tuition-free? Damn right! That is exactly what we should be doing."

Clinton's Moment - Clinton got the better of Sanders on the gun control issue, from several reminders that he voted against the Brady bill five times, to the criticism from Sandy Hook families, and his vote for a 2005 law that gives immunity to gun manufacturers and retailers in lawsuits. At one point, when Sanders smirked, she said: "This isn't a laughing matter. Ninety people on average are killed or commit suicide or die from accidents with guns (every day) -- 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously."

Sanders's Moment - Sanders criticized Israel for its disproportionate military response in Gaza in the 2014 war, and the devastation rained down on the Palestinians. It was risky to speak that truth in a New York debate, but he is absolutely right. Clinton defended Israel's right to protect itself against terrorism and Sanders agreed. But he said, "Netanyahu isn't right all of the time."

Madame Secretary - Clinton's experience on the world stage was on display as she talked about negotiating Middle East cease-fires and participating in closed-door meetings with world leaders. She's been in the trenches; Sanders has been on the outside looking in.

Those Transcripts - Come on already - even I say it's time for Clinton to release the transcripts from her Wall Street speeches. Sanders is not going to let this one go. If there were something to hide, the media or an audience member would likely have spilled the beans already. But she looks like she's hiding something. Clinton called on Sanders to release his taxes, but that's apples and oranges. We know he's not hiding a fortune in Panama.

I could tell you that Clinton is the better debater, but I'd be preaching to the choir, or falling on deaf ears. Sanders had more to gain Thursday night, with Clinton so far ahead in the New York polls. I certainly don't think the debate hurt him, but I don't think it gave him the boost he needs to overtake Clinton on Tuesday.