Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Campaign Kiss-Off

A tie, sports fans say, is like kissing your sister. Playing not to lose in the final debate, Mitt Romney ended up smooching a maiden aunt.

So much for deep analysis but, with two weeks to go, will Barack Obama’s clear victory on foreign affairs make the difference in a close election?

To avoid gaffes, Romney resorted to head-nodding as a strategy and was rewarded with Presidential lectures tinged with sarcasm.

“Every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong,” Obama told him. “Not only were you wrong, but you were confusing in sending mixed messages to our troops and to our allies.”

“Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney replied, hunkering down.

When the GOP candidate dared point out the size of the U.S. Navy “is smaller now than any time since 1917,” the Commander-in-Chief brought his rhetorical big guns:

“Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Because Romney was being so careful, the post-debate fact-checking this time is not as devastating as usual for him, but leaving aside the question of whether Obama’s open disdain may have turned off some undecided voters, the final debate was a rout in the contest to appear presidential.

Two weeks from today, the rest of us finally win relief from all this posturing and primping as we get to kiss the 2012 campaign goodbye.  

Update: A New York Times editorial blows off   the puckering up: "Mitt Romney has nothing really coherent or substantive to say about domestic policy, but at least he can sound energetic and confident about it. On foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s final presidential debate, he had little coherent to say and often sounded completely lost. That’s because he has no original ideas of substance on most world issues, including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan." 

Joe Biden adds about Obama: "I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; he was on my Foreign Relations Committee for four years. He demonstrated a grasp and a gravity. He had a worldview of where America’s position should be, how we should interact with the world, how we should rebuild alliances. Gov. Romney didn’t demonstrate any breadth of understanding.”

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