October 23, 2012

We’re finally at the end of the presidential debates, and I for one am glad of it. Bring on November 6 and let’s get it on and over with.

I’m giving this debate to Mitt Romney, because he had a far tougher task ahead of him going into a debate focused primarily on foreign policy: throughout the election season Romney has been known as a finance guy – a guy that, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, knows his economics. But foreign policy? That’s the decided advantage for a Commander-in-Chief who has to deal with all the uncertainties of the world, the guy who gets the intelligence briefings, the guy who – also for better or for worse – can claim at the very least that we haven’t had a 9/11-esque terrorist attack on U.S. soil during his four years in office.

Until seven weeks ago Barack Obama would have expected to go into this final debate with all the advantages in the world. Then came Benghazi, and the slaughter of our ambassador and three other heroes. With that, given the woeful economy, you now have certain questions being asked: maybe the incompetence of the domestic sides of things matches the same in regards to our foreign policy; the weakness in our economy matching that of our overall foreign policy. Suddenly, Barack Obama looks vulnerable. Let’s recap, for a moment, the debates to this point.

The first debate was the equivalent of a surfer’s wipeout – Obama didn’t show anything, causing Romeney to reinsert himself into the race and transform it in a big way. For the first time, people watching could actually start to envision Mitt Romney as President of the United States.

The second (VP) debate resulted in people being horrified that a buffoon like Joe Biden could be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Paul Ryan, rather than engaging Biden’s bluster, avoided the weeds and turned in an earnest and practical approach. The post-debate polls said Biden won, but days later it was clear he had done nothing to change the Romney momentum.

The third debate proved a better showing by Obama (how could he not!), but, although the post-debate polls said Obama had won, days later it had become clear that Romney had cemented his position as trend-setter in the race for the White House.

So now you have this foreign policy debate. Conservatives and the right, no doubt, will be furious at Romney not pounding the President about his negligence in Libya and the cover-up about the Fast & Furious gun-running scandal resulting in hundreds of Mexican deaths and the death of one, perhaps a second American border agent. But Romney had a different plan in mind: to stay above the fray, talk about big issues and portray himself as someone undecided voters could trust and envision as a Commander-in-Chief. He left it to President Obama to do the personal attacks and venture into the weeds, just like Ryan allowed Biden to do in the VP debate. Romney knew that what worked for Ryan in terms of portraying competence and personal likeability would outweigh the short-term benefits of tit-for-tat attacks, especially when when he wasn’t privy to the intelligence (or lack thereof) that presidents receive on a daily basis.

It was a smart move on Romney’s part: anyone who has paid attention to the Libyan fiasco knows enough about what happened there, and congressional committees and individual testimonies will in time figure out what the %$#! happened there. Nothing Romney could have said would bring back the Benghazi dead, and he would have looked the worse for bringing it up. Instead, by focusing on the big stuff – America’s economic state as a lynchpin to its inherent ability to portray stength on the world stage – Romney looked the more presidential and trustworthy, leaving President Obama to seem petty, irritatable, and diminished in his role as attacking incumbent. And, mark my words, his ill-advised “horses and bayonets” comment about the U.S. Navy is about to go viral, and not in a good way. Just watch – this is just the start.

Like in the second and third debates, I’d expect President Obama to win the useless reactionary polls of who supposedly won; in the days to come I expect Romney to hold or even expand his lead as undecideds realize that, economically, Barack Obama has no plan for the next four years, and that Mitt Romney is someone worth giving a shot to as both President and Commander-in-Chief to try and turn this mess around.

Advantage: Romney.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:26 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. Don’t always agree with Charles Krauthammer, but he summed up the debate like this:

    “Romney went big, and Obama went incredibly small.”

    Comment by Dave Richard — October 23, 2012 @ 7:44 am

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