After months of complaining about having to write my debate articles (especially when they air on liberal TV channels with liberal commentators) I have to say I was just starting to look forward to them again.  The South Carolina debate was charged up and had lots of great sound bites and was just all-around fun to write about.

And like it or not, these things are pretty powerful in major make-it-or-break-it ways.  These debates have elevated some of the candidates—such as Herman Cain after announcing his ‘9-9-9 Plan’– and they’ve leveled some of the other candidate’s presidential chances—such as Governor Perry’s “oops” moment.

So would tonight be a game-changer?  Would Rick Santorum or Ron Paul say something amazing that would cause voters to rush out and choose one of them? Would someone finally find a ‘gotcha question’ that will stump former Speaker Gingrich and cause him to falter in the polls?  Would Mitt Romney win this one, as most of the news people (on the left and right) seem to hope?

The best way I can describe tonight’s debate is zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

Yep, it was that bad and then some.

First of all, the audience reminded me of all those quiet, polite people who stand around watching golf tournaments.  I was thinking maybe they bussed them all in from nursing homes or something—but it was the most subdued crowd of all the debates.

NBC’s Brian Williams was the commentator and it seems Romney followed his advisor’s suggestions that he start going after the other candidates—or rather Gingrich– a lot harder.

Right off the bat, Romney called Gingrich’s speakership a “disgrace”.

“I think it’s about leadership, and the speaker was given an opportunity to be the leader of our party in 1994. And at the end of four years, he had to resign in disgrace,” Romney said.

Gingrich’s response was that he left the speakership after the1998 election “because I took responsibility for the fact that our results weren’t as good as they should be. I think that’s what a leader should do.”

“The fact is,” Gingrich continued, “on every single ethics charge of substance that was dismissed in the end, the only thing we did wrong is we had one lawyer [write a letter] and the one letter was in error. I didn’t pay a fine. I paid the cost of going through the process of determining it was wrong.”

Romney also went after Gingrich’s Freddie Mac dealings.

“His contract with Freddie Mac was provided by the lobbyists at Freddie Mac. I don’t think we can possibly retake the White House if the person who’s leading our party is the person who was working for the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac was paying Speaker Gingrich $1,600,000 at the same time Freddie Mac was costing the people of Florida millions upon millions of dollars,” Romney said.

Gingrich told Romney that as a businessman he “surely knows the difference between his company earning money and him personally collecting on the contract.”  He also defended the work as being consulting, not lobbying.

Gingrich’s response to pretty much all of Romney’s accusations was that he would post all his answers on his website (Newt.org) and that they should use the debate to “focus on the task of beating Barack Obama.”

Romney did admit that he was definitely fighting harder in this debate.

“I learned something from that last contest in South Carolina, and that was I had incoming from all directions, was overwhelmed with a lot of attacks. And I’m not going to sit back and get attacked day in and day out without returning fire,” he said.

Despite the fact that this was basically the “Newt and Mitt Show”, Rick Santorum tried to get into the act delivering some pretty hard punches of his own.

“There is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen,” Santorum said.  “And that’s why this election in Florida is so critical, that we have someone that actually can create a contrast between the president and the conservative point of view.”

I completely disagree with Santorum.  NO ONE is worse than Barack Obama and ALL the candidates resorting to tactics like this will only hurt our side.

I think I speak for lots of regular folks out there when I say the last thing any of us wants or needs to hear is denigrating within our own party; they do that to us enough on the other side of the fence.  What we really want to know is:  Can you beat Barack Obama?  And if so, how are you going to do it?

As always, Ron Paul does great when talking about ending the fed and the gazillion regulations in our country.  He doesn’t do so great when he defends murdering dictators like Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“The act of war has already been committed with the economic blockade that the U.S. and its allies have imposed on Iran,” says Paul, adding that Iran threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz “is a retaliation.”

Sigh.

All in all, it was a pretty horrible debate—maybe my least favorite.  I’m not declaring any winners because I thought all of them were nothing short of bleak tonight.  Tonight reminded me of my least-favorite part of the TV show “Survivor” when, at the end, everyone tries to justify why they cheated and lied and connived in order to win.

In the end, I just want Barack Obama OUT and I hope and pray one of those guys is able to do that.