This Might Be Why CNN Is Sagging in the Ratings: Overproduced broadcast is full of trite gimmicks, such as a corny opening video that has to compliment every candidate’s campaign. Even Newt Gingrich’s.

Mitt Romney Awkwardly Attacks: Romney tries to pin down Rick Perry on Social Security — does Perry want to get rid of the program? But, in the process, Romney seems a little too supportive of government-sponsored benefits for his conservative audience.

Style Prevails Over Substance: Perry somehow wins cheers by saying that America should have a “conversation” about Social Security instead of demystifying his inexplicable position on the program. He equivocates without any hint of doubt.

I Guess That Could Work: Ron Paul explains that we can eliminate the federal deficit by more or less eliminating the federal government.

It’s True Because I Like the Way It Sounds: Perry claims that Obama’s 2009 stimulus created “zero jobs.” (No.)

He Also Believes in Pink-Zebra Centaurs: Gingrich claims that we can balance the federal budget merely by eliminating government waste.

This Guy Could be President? Perry stands by his attacks on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, saying that it is “a clear statement of fact” that establishing loose monetary policy for political reasons would be “almost treasonous.” (Not that he has evidence that’s happening, but, hey.) Among many things that are amazing about this is that Perry still apparently hasn’t bothered to look up what “treason” means.

Now I’m Really Confused: Perry argues for tort reform, saying that the “Fed Reserve chairman” praised the idea.

He Just Lost His Reasonable Card: Jon Huntsman accuses Perry of making a “treasonous comment” by claiming that America can’t strictly secure its border. That isn’t a zinger, it’s a desperate ploy to attract attention, Mr. Ambassador.

Pile on the Frontrunner: Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum attack Perry from the right on requiring girls to get the HPV vaccine to arrest the incidence of cervical cancer. Perry gets pummeled for arguably one of his most reasonable policy stands.

I’m Not Sure That’s Entirely Fair: Herman Cain talks about Americans being “abused by the EPA.”

The Bottom Line: Romney was the most substantive. On content, Perry had mostly shallow answers and absorbed a few blows, but he did so with winking Texas swagger and didn’t have a meltdown on Social Security, so pundits will probably say that he pulled through.

More on the GOP debate from PostOpinions

Milbank: Rick Perry gets exposed

Dionne: GOP’s Social Security con

Rubin: Romney, Perry — or someone else?

Bernstein: GOP spins further from reality

Thiessen: A pathetic national security debate

Petri: Rick Perry’s sinister vaccines