We all do this in debates. We also do this during Sunday talk shows, or when Bob Beckel or Juan Williams is sitting at the table. Here’s your chance to add your two cents.
Remember, these men did not come into this debate as blank slates. One came in with a report card of B, the other a C-minus. Moreover, one came in with a record to defend. The other only with statements about what he would do tomorrow. Romney’s called a liar about what he says he will do as president while Obama is considered to be telling lies about what he has already done as president. Easy to compare the two.
Moreover, this debate was about foreign policy, which carries its own sub-group of interested listeners, and loses a large group of ordinary viewers who are away watching NFL Bears v Lions on ESPN, MLB Giants v Cardinals on Fox, or the Hoarders Marathon on Channel 59. (I actually visited two of the three intermittently myself during this debate.)
Mitt Romney was under strict orders to appear presidential and not be too nit picky about Obama’s handling of the nation’s foreign policy the past four years, or the past six weeks. He was reminded that the incumbent can always claim four years of hands-on foreign policy experience, while Romney can claim no “official” foreign policy experience. It’s this way with every challenger, including, once upon a time, Bill Clinton as well as Obama, both of whom came into office with less than zero experience in foreign policy, and left/leave office with the same less-than-zero interest in foreign policy.
So I found Romney’s earlier restatement of what has been boilerplate policy, more of less agreeing with Obama’s, to be a little tedious. I was bored. I wanted to see bruising.
But by 10 o’clock I realized this was a good strategy for Romney.
This morning I listened to a women who is an expert (has written a book) on body language, and she claimed Romney clearly won. From his eyes, shoulders and fumbling fingers, Obama was clearly back on his heels more than most casual observers would have noticed.
Moreover, Romney appeared to accept the fact that he would be speaking before a specialized audience, so that many of the jabs he could take at Obama were already accepted truths. Everyone knew he lied about Benghazi. Romney didn’t really have to beat the dead horse that was Chris Stevens to convey that contrary to everything Obama said about the success of American foreign policy and our stature in the world community, the past four years have been an embarrassment…even for those folks over on Channel 59.
Romney’s singular objective was to merge our foreign leadership failings into the failure of our economy, which he began by quoting Mike McMullen in saying that America’s greatest security risk was our national debt.
In this Romney succeeded for Obama was only too eager to oblige, for several times he mentioned that our policy in Iraq (Romney nailed him on the “status of forces” treaty debacle that brought about our troops leaving Iraq entirely) and Afghanistan were predicated on bringing all those military dollars home for a “higher use” in building roads, schools, and other government employment projects, maybe even including investing in more Solyndras.
Not once did Obama mention our original noble mission in either Iraq or Afghanistan, or for that matter, our war against worldwide terrorism. Our only mission, as Obama sees it, is to get all that money to hell out of there and return it to the coffers of the crack Obama team for redistribution in select blue districts in America.
An old leftist shibboleth, the highest purpose for all money was always for domestic political purposes.
With almost no help from Mitt Romney, Barack Obama inferred that the American projection of power worldwide needs to be re-framed in this context; that the dollar spent at home is better than the dollar spent abroad, or invested in ships, aircraft and military manpower. Sending diplomats to conferences is simply much less expensive than the care and feeding of aircraft carriers.
Also remember, once elected for a second term, Obama can ignore any and every promise he made last night, while Romney, for ethical reasons if nothing else, would be held to his.
Romney allowed Obama to damn himself, but for me, I’d have closed with something along these lines:
America is the engine of progress in the world. Not the American government. Protecting that engine is our primary leadership role.
America is also the engine of freedom. Not the American government. And we keep that engine greased and oiled by private entrepreneurs and the men and women who go to work everyday to build their own lives. The government is a beneficiary for this activity, not a reason for it.
We built all this. Nothing has the government ever built, from roads to schools to spaceships, without the sweat and toil of private entrepreneurs and the workers they employ. Nothing Obama has ever had did he build.
And for the past forty years, at least, that engine has been filled with the muck and crud of government waste.
All American foreign policy under Obama has been and will continue to be calculated under the green eye shades of a higher use for all the money they can confiscate from job-creators and workers.
For Obama there is no higher moral use of American power or money, such as saving lives, or assisting people longing to be free. Including women.
All money is political.