Tuesday, October 23, 2012

And Obama lands an uppercut.... (Debate No. 3)

This is a political post

Mitt apparently had no binders on foreign policy
 ~ tweet from John Kerry

I watched the debate on CBS this time. I make it habit to watch it on different channels because the commentary at the end is different and you kind of get a sense of how different people react to different things. Of course, after Fox news reported that Romney had somehow beat the President in the coin toss backstage during the second debate, I realized I would have to temper my viewing a bit. To get a clear head, and stay outside the selective media bubble we've all decided to inhabit, I've taken to waiting a while then reading the commentary on BBC and Al-Jazzera to get a better picture of what actually happened. It's shame that it's come to this reality. 

But onto my view of the proceedings.

The difference in the moderator styles as we went through this whole series was palable. It was though we went from the replacement refs to the real refs, with Bob Schieffer at the helm for this last tiff. There was very little over talking, very little going long on answer. And when it was time to move on, dog gone it they moved on. And both men, perhaps because they respected Bob, perhaps at the insistence of their wives but more likely a political operative that informed them doing that was polling badly, followed instructions. Not as much political brawl, as choreographed duel.

Romney looked strong at first, but then I'm not sure if that's I've grown used to his face or because the words coming out of his mouth were actually those of the Obama.  It became evident quickly, as in the Biden/Ryan debate that the points of difference were missing. On the big issues, Iran and Syria, all Romney could do was agree with the current actions, only swear he'd have done them better. And his attempts to make seem like the President had tarnished America's good name around the world sounded hollow in the face of facts.

Then came these two telling items:

"Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world, its their route to the sea. "

At first I wanted to write this comment off, as a throwaway line. The candidates had really wanted to talk about the economy as it seemed like every other answer segued back to how a strong economy is necessary for foreign diplomacy to work, so I discounted this statement's importance. But the reality is this line says a lot. There are two issues, here. First, Iran sits on the Persian Gulf, which has it's own route through the Straits of Hormuz to the India Ocean which is a fairly large body of water, it being called an ocean an all. And that Syria is Iran's route to the sea only if Iran goes through Iraq. In fact the part they would have to go through, currently controlled by the Kurds is actually pretty well run and could be model for how the rest of the country could be run. But this may have been a brain freeze... so I'll pick that flag up.

But the second one basically is the Governor actively refusing to admit that the Obama Administration really is poised exert that strength Romney keeps claiming only he'd be able project. As we used to say as kids, "don't talk about it, be about it." As part of the efforts to put the stranglehold on Iran, the US Navy has placed multiple carrier groups in the Persian Gulf. Obama has effectively parked missiles in a "floating Cuba" off Iran's southern coast. It was the kinda of thing you try not to mention, or even pretend exists, if you're trying to make your opponent look weak.

"Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets"

In response to a claim the Navy was shrinking was the zinger of the night, the kind of shot that Romney had been hoping to score since he'd started practicing for the debates in August. You almost wanted Obama to lean over the desk and remind his opponent that the defense budget is part of the regular budget, that thing we're trying to cut. You can't expand one without expanding the other, and since we're trying to cut expenses, giving them more money won't add up. Dummy.

Our current defensive needs aren't more warships or tanks, we already spend more than the next ten countries combined on military expenditures and we have brand new tanks rusting in the desert now because the military doesn't need them. We're no longer fighting Russia, we actually need this former enemy to go along with our plan for Iran for the sanctions to work. Antagonizing them won't help us in the long run. Our new enemies are non-state actors and for that we need a different kind of military. Obama couldn't have made it clearer that Romney had other intentions with the need to expand the military, like adding to the bottom lines of military contractors.

Then there was the look the President was giving Romney during his answers.

I would think the look that Obama was giving Romney when he spoke was the same look he uses on the basketball court - a look of fierce determination, an almost "try me" look, daring the other person to do anything other than pass the ball. It was a marked difference from the almost loving stare both Romney and his running mate do when listening that comes off as practiced and a little creepy. You could almost see Obama waiting to pounce.

Then around 10pm something happened. I'm not sure if Romney had a sudden gas attack or suddenly realized he was merely repeating what Obama was saying. The loving gaze faded for a moment and a fine sheen of sweat appeared on his brow. This might have been a Nixon moment.

And just like that it was over. I thought Obama won and came through strong, roused up enough to even start cutting at Romney over his record - which suddenly Romney called personal attacks. If your state was at the bottom of job creation when you were in office, how is mentioning that out of line if you're using your job creation skills as a selling point? I'm also sure Fox news, Red State and other conservatives sites have it for Romney, despite him parroting the President most of the evening.

And now, we return to our regularly scheduled diatribes on love, relationships, places I've eaten and things I think about while waiting through the commercials. Wait, in two weeks, NO MORE POLITICAL COMMERCIALS. Even better.  

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