Well, these two knuckleheads went at it again last night, on the subject of US foreign policy, by which I definitely do not mean global food and water insecurity, nuclear disarmament, and human rights and definitely do mean paranoid fearmongering, imperialistic paternalism, and plenty of hot discussion about all the ways we have to murder people.
Obama's strategy seemed to be to get through a foreign policy debate without having to account for killing an unknown number of people with drones in secret wars for which there is no oversight or accountability. In which case: Mission accomplished!
Romney's strategy seemed to be stammering his way red-faced through a pathetic showing of dubious foreign policy credentials and trying to look presidential by agreeing (or pretending to agree) with the President on almost everything, even when the President rightly pointed out said agreement was a contradiction in Romney's previously stated policy. In which case: Mission accomplished? Congratulations?
An actual picture from last night's debate.
On the one hand, it's like ha ha Romney agreed with Obama so much he practically endorsed him. On the other hand, it's like holy shit that neocon warmonger just agreed with most of Obama's foreign policy.
Which pretty much underscores everything that's wrong with modern US foreign policy.
Anyway! The full transcript of the debate is here, and I've got some highlights below the fold.
President Obama came out strong again this debate, and, within the first ten minutes, managed to get off one of the most memorable lines of the night:
Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al-Qaida's a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia—not al-Qaida; you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.The foreign policies of the 80s, the social policies of the 50s, and the economic policies of the 20s. PERFECT.
But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
[edit; what continue is, however, part of the same answer]
Every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn't be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.
You've said that first we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan, then you said we should. Now you say maybe, or it depends—which means not only were you wrong but you were also confusing and sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.
If Big Bird was the memorable takeaway from the first debate, and binders the takeaway from the second, this debate will probably be defined by horses and bayonets:
First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed; it is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. The budget we're talking about is not reducing our military spending; it's maintaining it. But I think maybe Governor Romney hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works.BOOM.
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 has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them, we have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines, and so the question is not a game of Battleship where we're counting ships—it's what are our capabilities.
And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home, and that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you're putting forward, because it just doesn't work. We visited the web site quite a bit, and it still doesn't work.
This was a devastating critique of Mitt Romney's inconsistency on foreign policy and his failure to understand what it takes to be Commander-in-Chief. This is the sort of thing to which I don't personally respond—I just detest way too many of my government's foreign policy priorities to feel anything but anxiety listening to this sort of posturing—but I do think President Obama was very effective here:
Governor, the problem is, is that on a whole range of issues, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's Afghanistan, whether it's Iraq, whether it's now Iran, you've been all over the map. I mean, I'm pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program. But just a few years ago you said that's something you'd never do, in the same way that you initially opposed a timetable in Afghanistan, now you're for it, although it depends; in the same way that you say you would have ended the war in Iraq, but recently gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more folks in there; the same way that you said that it was mission creep to go after Gaddafi.In summation, President Barack Obama looked like a US President and definitely has the best ZINGERS! And Mitt Romney's performance can best be summed up by this Actual Headline in this morning's Wall Street Journal: A Perfectly Plausible President. Actual Sub-Head: "All Mitt needed to do was sound reasonable. He succeeded." Neat! What a neat garbage basement expectation for a truly terrible candidate!
When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any president would make that call. But when you were a candidate in 2008—as I was—and I said, if I got bin Laden in our sights, I would take that shot, you said we shouldn't move heaven and earth to get one man, and you said we should ask Pakistan for permission. And if we had asked Pakistan for permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.
You know, after we killed bin Laden, I was at Ground Zero for a memorial and talked to a young woman who was four years old when 9/11 happened. And the last conversation she had with her father was him calling from the Twin Towers, saying, "Peyton (sp), I love you, and I will always watch over you." And for the next decade she was haunted by that conversation, and she said to me, you know, "by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me." And when we do things like that, when we bring those who have harmed us to justice, that sends a message to the world, and it tells Peyton (sp) that we did not forget her father.
And I make that point because that's the kind of clarity of leadership—and those decisions are not always popular. Those decisions generally are not poll-tested. And even some in my own party, including my current vice-president, had the same critique as you did. But what the American people understand is, is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those decisions.
I also love the first line of the New York Times' review of the debate: "Mitt Romney has nothing really coherent or substantive to say about domestic policy, but at least he can sound energetic and confident about it." LOL!
Finally! This was probably my most retweeted tweet of the evening, which I find super amusing:
"I ask for your vote."--Mitt Romney. "Fuck no."--Me. #debates— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) October 23, 2012
Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.