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.
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."
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."
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.
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.