October 24, 2012

Post Debate Analysis: The Incredible Shrinking Romney

Schiefer+Obama+Romney+Debate+2012+Foreign+Policy

Alternate Title: I swear it’s shrinkage - I went to the red, white, and pool party!


By Roy Steele


Boca Raton, Florida -- I really find it hard to describe Monday night’s foreign policy debate between the major party candidates for President, in Boca Raton, Florida, as a debate at all. One thing missing was the venom, and the pithy comments, that both sides used to great effect at the Hofstra debate. The other thing missing was a credible opponent to debate the President, with a clear understanding of the important issues, and substantive responses. Those things were absent at this debate.

The discussion was largely focused on the Middle East, and the Boston brahmin* suggested that we should encourage and export democracy, free market trade and our economic principles, including “gender equality,” to the Arab world. Sounds like........Bush!

When I heard Romney say “gender equality” my jaw dropped, because he has zero credibility when it comes to promoting equality for any minority group.  If the aristocratic* plutocrat* truly believes in gender equality, why doesn’t he try to convince his church to try the concept out, so that he can pretend he’s sincere about the issue. His record on equality is clear, ipso facto, he’s full of shit and was making that up to pander to women.

How could he suggest encouraging gender equality in foreign countries, when he doesn’t support gender equality in his church, in his home state, or in his own country? That pissed me off right from the start.

Then Romney said he wants to catch “the bad guys,” and scolded the President by saying “we can’t kill our way out of this mess.” He never said who his “bad guys” were. Can you imagine a President saying “we’re going after the bad guys.” Sure Batman - let me know when you catch them!

After scolding the President, the challenger reluctantly admitted that he supported the drone strikes targeting the leaders of Al Qaeda, and sheepishly congratulated the President for tracking down and eliminating Osama bin Laden. That was his first flip-flop of the night. “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” but I support killing our way out of the “tumult.” Whatever Batman!

This debate was more like a college course, where the leader of the free world taught a class called Foreign Policy 101. There was very little that the challenger could say or do to score points, and Batman said he agreed with the President and his foreign policy decisions more often than not.

Veteran CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer was a terrific moderator, who controlled the flow of the debate, kept the candidates in check, and asked good questions.

The two candidates interrupted each other often, and the candidate from Massachusetts complained to the President four or five times to object to his criticisms. He said that the President mischaracterized his record, though he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be specific and identify which point the President got wrong.

Batman was upset when the President brought up irresponsible or silly statements he made in the past (“Russia is the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States”), and said “rather than criticize me, talk about your own proposals.”  Touché? I think NOT.

President Obama pointed out the differences between himself and Batman repeatedly, in a direct and concise way. The President scored points by calling the superhero’s foreign policy pronouncements as “wrong and reckless,” and he made the audience snicker when he said the “1980’s called and they want their foreign policy back.” Obama’s reference to the military weaponry of yesteryear - “bayonets and horses” - was classic, but those moments were few and far between.

The candidate from New England offered no new ideas, and offered no explanations about why he wants to divert two trillion dollars of taxpayer money to defense spending, when the military has no need or use for the money.

Those of us watching at home had hoped we’d see fireworks, and we saw an informative school lesson instead. President Obama was the teacher, and Batman was the pupil. I hope he paid attention, because that may be the only foreign policy lesson he ever receives.

President Obama articulated his foreign policy achievements, and controlled the lesson plan in the final debate. The President educated his challenger about foreign policy and military affairs, and the inexperienced student and superhero pouted, repeated his 5 point “plan” to nowhere, and was barely keeping his head above water because he was unprepared and out of his league.

It was the incredibly shrinking Romney we saw Monday night, and he couldn’t summon his shape-shifting powers, or his sidekick Robin, to bullshit his way out of the mess he made for himself.

We did learn that Romney’s foreign policy prescription costs two trillion dollars, and that Obama’s foreign policy prescription costs a fraction of that, and is called diplomacy.

Romney wants to build up the military to return to the Bush doctrine, while Obama has had diplomacy in his toolbox since he was elected, which includes developing long term strategic relationships, meeting world leaders face to face, direct phone calls, emails, and outreach from our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

We aren’t electing a superhero to go after “the bad guys.” We’re electing a President who can rise to the challenges we face as a nation. The oval office requires a leader who can juggle the demands of foreign policy and national security, while being attuned to domestic policy, and the needs of our republic.

Trying to shape-shift into Batman isn’t the answer. “Going after the bad guys” isn’t the answer either. The response was probably the most revealing one of the debate, because it reflected Romney’s adolescent nature, and limited world view. It was an answer you’d expect from a fifth grader, not a candidate for President.

Then again, maybe he isn’t smarter than a fifth grader.


Romney was under the table by the end, and just a shadow of his former self, because Obama made a convincing argument to re-elect himself.  

Touché! And an overwhelming win for President Obama.



***NOTES:
Brahmin - a socially superior person, especially a member of the upper classes from New England.

Aristocratic - political and social theory that advocates the rule of “the best” whom it identifies, generally,  with the wealthy upper class. The rich people in a community.

Plutocrat - a person whose power derives from their wealth.

 




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