CBS should be congratulated for hosting and moderating a debate under very difficult circumstances. John Dickerson and his colleagues offered a balance between the tragedy in Paris and the need to discuss the other pressing issues that had to be addressed. They benefited by having only three candidates to deal with and a tone by both moderates and candidates who were respectful to each other and to the public.

I think all three candidates comported themselves well. Senator Sanders challenged former Secretary of State Clinton on being too close to Wall Street, for her mistaken vote on going to war in Iraq, and for accepting too much big money for her campaign.

Governor O'Malley challenged her for representing the 20th century both on defense and on the economy. There were some memorable lines from all three.

Mrs. Clinton eloquently defended her fundraising and said 60% of her contributions came from women.

Mr. Sanders said his tax rates on the super wealthy would be much less than under the Presidency of the noted socialist Dwight Eisenhower.

And Governor O'Malley brought the house down when he referred to the "immigrant-bashing carnival barker Donald Trump".

They all got a fair amount of time and had plenty of opportunities to promote their experience. Mr. Sanders talked about his successful legislation with Senator John McCain to protect veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. O'Malley said he raised taxes on the wealthy and received in return a rating for the best public schools in America, reduced college tuition, and implemented a living wage in Maryland.

Mrs. Clinton cited the battle scars of waging the fight for health care reform and praised her former boss, President Barack Obama, for passing the Affordable Care Act despite obstacles by the Republicans in Congress. She stayed close to Mr. Obama who she will need to energize voters in the general election if she wins the Democratic nomination.

The candidates threw punches. "I would not call Baltimore a safe city", declared Mr. Sanders about Mr. O'Malley's tenure of that city. Mr. O'Malley also faulted Mrs. Clinton for her vote on going to war in Iraq and for not anticipating the "cascading problems" that have arisen in the region since.

But the fact is that the entire debate was less a dogfight and more of a love fest among three adults who end up agreeing with each other on a whole lot more than the differences they may have.

In that context, the frontrunner stays the frontrunner after tonight. Mr. O'Malley may show a little gain because of some positive exposure and Mr. Sanders generates a lot of heat, especially among younger voters and Hillary-haters. Mrs. Clinton will probably remain in a strong polling position after tonight.