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As a journalist, my natural inclanation is to gravitate toward the interesting. That's why I am often constructively critical of members of Utah's minority party. If they could start winning more elections, then my job becomes more interesting.

It's purely selfish, I know.

But, I may have gone a bit too far with my criticism of Donna McAleer's debate performance against Rob Bishop. I thought I was using a humorous conceit to point out how she came up short against Bishop. But, some people felt I may have gone too far - especially with the Sarah Palin comparison.

My intent was not to offend. 

Apparently, my needling was not taken in the spirit in which it was offered - to point out in a satirical way that while McAleer may have had a solid performance on substance, I felt she had a major failing when it came to the impression she left on the audience. 

That was simply my experience watching the debate. 

I probably should have pointed out some failings by Bishop as well. I could have said it looked like Rep. Bishop got bored in the second half of the program and started to offer flippant answers to questions.

But, in the end, I still felt Bishop's performance overall was better than McAleer's. Overall he came off as relaxed while she seemed prickly and unapproachable.

By contrast, I thought Sen. Luz Robles did a fantastic job in her match-up with Rep. Chris Stewart. She was warm and engaging and very personable. 

Those I talk to who know McAleer personally say they were also frustrated by her execution against Bishop because it it wasn't a good representation of what she has accomplished in her professional life.

There's a streak of niceness that runs through Utah's political DNA. Most criticism tends to run toward the passive-aggressive or is done behind the person's back. 

I like to think of politics as a full-contact sport. That means people can come away with bruises...including me. 

So, I'll take my lumps and apologize for the way I said things, but not for what I said.

Being in the media for more than a quarter century I've developed a very thick skin and a hyper-cynical nature. Because of that, some have called me a jerk or used stronger language to refer to missives. Never to my face, mind you. 

When I was in college at the University of Oklahoma, it was during the time that Billy Tubbs was the head coach of the basketball team. He was often accused of running up the score on opponents. His response to his critics applies to those offended by opinions.

"If they don't like it, they should get better."