The third and final Presidential debate went off last night without a bang … or a boom (1st debate) … or some sadistic laughing clown (VP debate). Not much happened in this debate at all. As such, this review will be much shorter and is more about the overall perception of the debate. Still, here is the video and transcript for those interested. Gov. Romney agreed, in large part, with much of the President’s handling of foreign policy issues, with the exception of a few quibbles, such as the perception of President Obama’s first foreign policy trip in which he visited several countries in the Middle East, but, most noticeably, did not visit Israel.
Romney’s focus seemed to be to paint Obama as good intentioned, but ultimately weak, and that his main contrast with Obama would be that he would be a stronger leader through intentions and actions, especially as they relate to Israel.
President Obama, however, chose to attack Romney personally. Obama chose to paint Romney as someone that thinks foreign policy is a game of “battleship” or a person that lacks the intelligence to understand that the military has changed over the last 100 years. Obama suggested that Romney didn’t understand that we now have “fewer horses and bayonets,” as well, in reply to Romney’s assertion that our Navy has fewer ships than we did in 1916. First, horses are obsolete in warfare and naval warships are not. Second, the military does not have fewer bayonets than it did in previous years. This attempted personal attack on Romney made the President look petty and childish, because Romney didn’t fall for the bait, but, perhaps more importantly, it also illustrated the disconnect Obama has with the military.
After a few short skirmishes on foreign policy, the debate moved back into domestic policy. Romney’s contention was that a strong domestic policy and strong U.S. economy allows us to be stronger in the world. Obama agreed.
The takeaway from this debate was that Romney is more comfortable speaking about economic issues, but he also has a firm grasp of issues on foreign policy. At no point in time, during any of the talk surrounding nations in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, or Africa, did Romney appear not to know the current happenings in any of the mentioned countries. Romney also appeared Presidential, staying above the fray of personal attacks and sticking to policy, which Obama failed to do.
In summary, on substance, Obama had a slight edge. On looking Presidential, Romney won hands down. This debate had the capacity to be a knock-down, drag-out fight with the obvious tension between Israel and the U.S., the recent attack on the anniversary of 9/11 in Benghazi and the lies that ensued, the ideology driven Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, Obama telling Medvedev that he will give Putin more flexibility after his last election, etc, etc. Instead, this debate ended up as the least interesting of the three.
It’s now up to all of us! Get out and vote!