With a little over a year till the US presidential election, we'll be making a regular selection of the commentary from the fair-minded, the partisan and the light-hearted as the action progresses in one of the world's most enduring (and lengthy) democratic processes.

Donald Trump's declaration that the world would be 100% better off if Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were still in power prompted some soul searching at the conservative The National Review, where contributing editor Andrew McCarthy was moved to agree, at least in regards to Gaddafi. McCarthy writes: "There cannot be an 'oppose the brutal dictator' principle guiding US foreign policy because sometimes the alternative will be worse".

But it's not all going Trump's way. An opinion poll that saw him shoved into second place among GOP voters in Iowa led to this tweet about too much Monsanto in the corn from the Trump camp. This Fox News item discusses the tweet (subsequently retracted by Trump, who blamed an overenthusiastic intern), and the surprising staying power of the political newbies seeking the Republican nomination.

If you want to find out more about Dr Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, author and philanthropist who trumped Trump in the Iowa poll, this piece from The New Yorker is a good place to start. It suggests Carson's success to date 'may be best understood as desperation on the part of voters who have rejected political experience as a test of competence'. Or tune into the third Republican candidate debate on Wednesday, where Trump and Carson are sure to have a lot to say.

Iowa, of course, will be the first state to vote on the party nominees on 1 February, kicking off the business end of proceedings in this, the 58th US presidential race. That's not long enough away for Vice President Joe Biden, who declared last week he didn't have enough time to raise the $30 million needed to campaign ahead of Iowa. The long awaited decision from Biden prompted LibertyNews to publish this list of Biden's bon mots to summarise his 'most uncomfortable, awkward, eye-roll inducing and even downright horrifying quotes'. The list goes all the way back to 1988 and Biden's first tilt at the presidency back when he famously plagiarised a speech given a few months earlier by then UK Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

Other commentators suggested Biden's decision to not enter the race this time around gives Hillary Clinton a clear run at the White House but, even if she wins, the party will still be in a whole heap of trouble, argued liberal writer Matthew Yglesias with this post on Vox. Yglesias looked beyond the presidency to the thousands of other elected offices where 70% of state legislatures, 60% of governors, 55% of attorneys general and secretaries are in Republican hands. 'And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress'.

In the Notes From the Future department, a Republican congressman told The Hill that on day 1 of a Hillary Clinton presidency the GOP would seek to impeach her on the grounds her use of private email server put lives at risks, thus committing high crimes and misdeanours.

Clinton labelled the threat 'pathetic' but the past continues to swallow the candidate's most precious resource: time. On Saturday Clinton spent 11 hours testifying before the Senate Committee inquiring into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead. The marathon hearing forced the release of thousands more Clinton emails but found no smoking gun. Thinkprogress.org, however, did locate '13 absurd and dramatic moments', including one Democratic congressman saying he wanted to do a Bernie Sanders impression, but feared being compared to Larry David.

That was a reference to one of our favourite takeouts from this race so far: the Saturday Night Live crew's brilliant send up of the first Democratic candidate's debate. Larry David's cameo attracted widespread acclaim, with Bernie Sanders among those giving the thumbs up in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And one more footnote from that debate: this analysis from Factcheck.org suggests all those on the podium were a little loose with the facts.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Chris Plascik