Tonight’s “debate” was an utter bore. I found myself longing for the good old days (approximately a week ago) when Mike Gravel took the stage and showed us what crazy can do to enliven a political event. (Stay tuned for Budowsky’s retort to my use of the word “crazy.”)

Look, I know Chris Matthews and the mainstream media and the Democratic Party are obsessed with the Iraq war. But Republican primary voters are kinda, sorta obsessed with taxes and smaller government. Maybe I missed it as I was rushing off to a TV studio this evening, but why wasn’t McCain forced to explain his opposition to Bush’s tax cuts? Republican stalwarts like Rick Santorum have stated publicly their opposition to McCain as the GOP nominee because he’s not a true fiscal conservative. So how ‘bout it, Matthews?

I really don’t need to know the bureaucratic intricacies of how these candidates would parcel up Iraq. At least not tonight. I want to know about their big ideas, their guiding philosophies and their reasons why they deserve to hold the power of the presidency. Guess I’ll have to wait for the Charlie Rose interview for that one. None of the candidates inspired this evening. Maybe that’s a product of being overly prepped. What worries me is that tonight’s deficiencies are the product of candidates who’ve not spent enough time meditating on the greater meaning of America, its place in the world and our responsibility to uphold the history of our past in an uncertain future.

Or maybe it was just a plain old debate that was never really designed to do much more than what occurred tonight.