What can one say? Undecideds will probably see this debate as a wash, simply because Romney understood they didn't want bellicosity so he didn't deliver what he's routinely delivered for two years--bellicosity. Tonight, except when he was a foreign-policy dolt--declaring China a currency manipulator is perhaps the most counterproductive move any president could make on "Day One"--he was a veritable peacenik. He differed not at all with Obama on Iran policy, or on Syria policy, or on drone strikes. In fact, if he did differ to any degree, it was in out-peaceniking Obama. Just more disingenuity. Romney has heavily surrounded himself with former Bush advisers--all of them positively drooling for more U.S. military action in the Middle East--and yet before a national audience he denied any such neocon persuasions.
And Romney's answer tonight about the auto industry crisis? It quite literally, quite simply defined Mitt Romney the pol: a cold-blooded liar. For those voters yet decided, that answer--easily fact-checked, easily refuted--is all they need to know. Will they bother seeing the malevolent reality of Mitt Romney? That's where tonight leaves us--with no answers ... just the question.
Obama just went through a whole litany of Romney's shifting foreign-policy positions and it was nice and clear and thorough and it likely won't mean shit to the audience he's addressing--the undecideds--because said audience is a horde of incurable, ineducable morons.
So Romney just roamed all over the field talking about how a Romney administration would have been tougher against Iran and yet ultimately he wound up in the very same position as the Obama administration. This guy is as oily, as slippery as they come. All the drama that comes out of his mouth, is shown, after the minutest examination, to signify utterly nothing.
Romney's fixed, silly grin while Obama is talking reminds me of Steve Martin's Ruprecht character in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
ObamaCare runs about $1 trillion over 10 years and it's paid for, but Romney says we can't afford it. He wants $2 trillion in extra military spending and it's not paid for and that we can afford. Somehow. How? Who the hell knows. No one can get a goddamn straight answer from this clown.
Oh, sorry, Romney can do it--because he was a budget-balancing governor once upon a time.
About time. Obama is turning beautifully, maliciously sarcastic.
Romney will spend an additional two trillion dollars developing a military somehow preparing for known unknowns? Damn that sounds familiar.
So does everything else Romney is spewing. This is simply a rehash of his stump speech--the whole bloody thing.
Is this a debate?
Romney endorses world peace! And a good economy! And a strong military! And strong allies! He likes strength. Well, that changes my mind about this thing.
My server, Typepad, is acting up. If I disappear ...
(I was having a nervous breakdown because of Romney's filibustering just as Typepad crapped out.)
Nice history review from Obama: Romney's foreign policy of the 1980s, his social policies of the 1950s and economic policies of the 1920s.
Oh foul cries Romney. Attacking me will solve nothing. What a weenie.
Suddenly Romney is a soft power advocate. He's already disregarding every podium he pounded during the primaries and is instead playing, as fresh as a babe, for the women's vote.
It looked as though Schieffer's introduction regarding the Cuban missile crisis came as news to Romney.
Before tonight's debate begins, I wanted to comment on the following.
Ezra Klein states (overstates, I think) that the distinction made in presidential debates between domestic and foreign policy is "ridiculous" and "flatly incorrect," since, from financial regulation to climate change, virtually every controversial issue comes down to a global one. I've no argument with Klein's latter point, however in his first point he overlooks the nearly absolute monarchical power that modern U.S. presidents wield in the foreign arena.
Is U.S. financial regulation inherently tied, because of world markets, to foreign regulation? Of course. Yet while a president may assert his preferences in domestic financial regulation--which is all we can really assert--it is Congress, God help us, that ultimately rules the roost. In foreign policy, however, the reverse is true. Presidents possess the extraordinary power of increasing executive independence; they control the flow and interpretation of intelligence; they stand intimidatingly over a Congress often more interested in reelection than national security issues; they command an awesome propaganda machine; and they can deploy American troops at a moment's notice to anyplace in the world--only to ask permission later, at which point congressional commitment has become politically fashionable patriotism.
And a buffoon like Mitt Romney, as we know all too well from recent experience, can rule the whole ghastly apparatus. Set against even the most severe turmoil of domestic policy, that is a very different and very distinct and potentially very deadly matter.