In the final quarter of the final hour of ABC's Saturday night Democratic presidential primary debate, David Muir turned what had already been a wide-ranging but ISIS-heavy conversation toward something decidedly domestic.

What can be done to make policing effective, fair and less of a threat to the welfare and rights of some Americans? And how would they square the concerns voiced by Black Lives Matter activists with concerns of law enforcement that they are being unduly scrutinized.

What followed were plenty of platitudes and talk about criminal justice reform and increasing dialogue. We'll paste the transcript at the bottom of this post, but it was all well-worn territory and little of it was concrete.

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A sampling:

Hillary Clinton: "...We need to hear the voices of those men and women and boys and girls who feel like strangers in their own country and do whatever is necessary to not only deal with the immediate problems within the criminal justice system, but more opportunities, more jobs, better education so that we can begin to rebuild that very valuable asset known as trust."

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Bernie Sanders: "Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans."

Martin O'Malley: "As a nation, we have to embrace this moment and make our departments more open, more transparent, and more accountable."

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Almost no domestic issue has occupied more news time and space or caused more fear, consternation, disagreement, discussion and shocking evidence of possible official misconduct in 2015 than the question of alleged police misconduct, the way that communities home to lots of people of color are policed and what effective and fair monitoring of police activities would look like.

Yet Saturday night, this merited just a sliver of time during the Democrats's third presidential primary debate. And, it seemed to earn about as much time and about as many specifics as a question dedicated to who will select the White House china patterns and get the thank-you notes in the mail.

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(Side bar: Did Hillary Clinton really say -- maybe, kind of sort of grudgingly -- that should she become the leader of the free world with all it's many, many responsibilities, that she will also deal with the china pattern? She may be capable of doing all. But Bill Clinton and other husbands of America, please see this data on how much more house and family-related work women shoulder than their male partners.)

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In all fairness to both ABC's moderators, Muir and long-time journalist Martha Radditz asked questions that covered a lot or territory. And Muir's question on policing and race far exceeded the exceedingly low bar set during the CNN Democratic debate on this issue. And this was the most time spent on the issue in any of the presidential debates featuring candidates from either major party, thus far.

But what viewers got was a lot of phrases and words indicating that each of the candidates understand the matter to be complicated, deserving of attention and a wide range of public policy changes.

But, still. This also must be said.

With just a few days left in the year and a few more before the start of the nation's earliest primaries and caucuses, not one of the candidates identified specific measurable goals their administration would commit to meeting. It's time to start getting down to some details.


The transcript:

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