Open thread: The third debate

posted at 8:34 pm on October 22, 2012 by Allahpundit

9 p.m. ET all across the dial except for Fox, which will carry Game 7 of the NLCS. Between that and “Monday Night Football,” it’s a lead-pipe cinch that this will be the lowest-rated of the three debates, especially since people typically don’t vote based on foreign policy anyway. This “Onion” preview of the debate captures the stakes reasonably well, notwithstanding John Kerry’s pre-debate spin that tonight is a “reckoning” for Romney because he’s been, ahem, inconsistent on the issues.

For what it’s worth, I completely agree with Jonah Goldberg:

Foreign policy, the ostensible subject of tonight’s debate, is not as conducive to sweeping statements of ideological principle as domestic policy is these days. Americans are weary of war, wary of the Arab Spring, and fed up with many of the hassles and perceived economic hardships that come with being the leader of the world. By no means do I think Romney should back off principled disagreements with Obama. But the voters Romney needs don’t much care about winning the argument over Libya or the the war on terror generally. They want to hear (or, rather, Romney needs them to hear) why they shouldn’t be worried about Romney being commander-in-chief. That kind of reassurance comes from seeming reasonable above all else. The price for that may be to say “I agree with President Obama” more than I would like and framing things in such a way that Obama is the one who’s forced to seem un-reassuring. To that end, on Libya, like so many other issues, Romney should calmly make his case and let Obama get angry in response.

A little Ron Paul tonight would go a long way. I don’t want to see Romney turn isolationist, but between the Benghazi attack, the rising Islamist tide in Egypt, the maelstrom in Syria, and the decade-long drift in Afghanistan, there are a lot of undecideds out there who might perk up tonight if he signaled that it’s time to pull back a bit from the Middle East. S.E. Cupp gave him the same advice on MSNBC today, encouraging him to critique Obama on drone strikes and the “kill list.” Does Mitt have that in him, though? Many of his foreign-policy advisors are Bush veterans and Romney’s big knock on O in international affairs has always been that you can’t lead from behind. He’s embraced a “peace through strength” message, which means we’re more likely to see marginal disagreements on the hawkish/interventionist end of the spectrum tonight than the starker disputes of the sort you see between them on the economy. For what it’s worth, though:

If he’s going to try to out-interventionist Obama, he’d better come prepared with arguments for why O’s chosen interventions weren’t such hot ideas. Topic A tonight is likely to be Benghazi, with Romney tempted to get down in the weeds about what Obama knew and when. That’ll be difficult: The White House spent the weekend leaking to reporters about the early confusion over what happened at the consulate, with both Obama himself and Susan Rice supposedly being briefed that the attack was spontaneous until 10 days afterward. O wanted that out there so that he could point to those news stories at the debate, of course. (Another pair of leaked stories on Saturday claimed that Al Qaeda had no ties to the attack and also that militants tied to Al Qaeda participated in it.) Team Romney was needling him before the debate this afternoon about the shifting narrative, but that’s not the deeper foreign-policy point here. The deep point is that O (a) undertook a dubious intervention in Libya without congressional approval, (b) failed to anticipate how it would empower Islamists in Africa, including/especially in Mali and Syria, as Qaddafi’s arsenal of weapons like shoulder-fired missiles was expropriated, and (c) then inexplicably left the U.S. ambassador without security, leading to his murder and a new counterterrorism crisis for the U.S. that may end up alienating our new “friends” in Libya once we strike back. More from Danger Room:

But several aspects of his foreign policy have either skirted on the edge of disaster or risk tipping over into them, whether it’s the surge and ensuing the drawdown from Afghanistan; or his inconsistent approach to the Arab Spring, where he’ll intervene in Libya but not Syria. Indeed, Libya looked like the successful ouster of a dictator with no U.S. casualties, but it turned out the U.S. neglected the warning signs of Islamist resurgence in eastern Libya until it murdered four Americans.

Benghazi resonated because it pierced that veneer of competence. It’s reasonable to wonder if there are about to be several Benghazis on Obama’s watch, whether in the form of raided Mideast embassies or Taliban advances or an Iranian nuke. Obama’s most urgent task in this debate is to explain why there won’t be.

That’s Romney’s task tonight. Pierce the veil of competence with which the Foreign Policy President surrounds himself — here’s a good place to start — and leave an impression of competence yourself, especially by having a smart answer ready when Schieffer inevitably asks how your foreign policy differs from Bush’s. (That would make a fine question for President Drone Strike too, needless to say.) Below you’ll find the handy dandy Hot Air/Townhall Twitter widget for live-tweeting. I’ll leave you with this from Walter Russell Mead:

Above all, Governor Romney wants voters coming away from this debate with the impression that he would be a “safe pair of hands.” He’s tough enough to do what’s necessary, but laid-back enough not to do too much. If he’s attacking the President’s policies, it isn’t because he wants to bring Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney back inot the Situation Room. As far as possible, Governor Romney wants to impress voters tonight that a vote for him is a vote for safety, peace and a quiet life. The world is scary enough these days; Americans aren’t looking for a scary President.



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Somewhere around here, Bmore is lurking trying to get a 4,000 to go with his 5,000 …

… I can FEEL his presence

PolAgnostic on October 23, 2012 at 1:46 AM

Is it just me or did obummer have the look of a geeked up meth head?? Those bulging eyes…. scary!

kcd on October 22, 2012 at 11:33 PM

I have actually suspected he’s been on amphetamines during the last two debates (surely not meth, probably some pill to make sure he stays alert).

Sign of the Dollar on October 23, 2012 at 1:49 AM

PolAgnostic on October 23, 2012 at 1:46 AM

From what I can tell, this post is 4003, and YOU got 4000… from what I can tell so far!lol! Congratulations!:)

thatsafactjack on October 23, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Sorry about that strike… accidental misfire!:)

thatsafactjack on October 23, 2012 at 2:02 AM

FNC Panel said that Romney agreed with Obama on most things.

Trippi also called the debate “the big hug” because of how much he felt Romney tried to agree with Obama on policy after policy, possibly as part of a “strategy to not let Obama paint him as the reckless guy who is going to take the country to war.”

Obama = Romney.

Just like I have been saying all along.

Mitt Romney is Obama. They are politically nearly identical. Well other than that technical Republican registration.

Steveangell on October 23, 2012 at 2:06 AM

Steveangell on October 23, 2012 at 2:06 AM

Except that Romney won’t gut our military, while our biggest enemies in terms of weight class, bolster theirs.

Romney’s basic foreign policy stance the entire campaign has been that we need a powerful military just in case, BUT, we should be very reluctant to use it. More like Reagan and Bush in that respect, walk softly and carry a big stick.

WolvenOne on October 23, 2012 at 2:15 AM

Sorry, more like Reagan, THAN Bush, in that respect.

I implied that Bush and Reagans foreign policies were equivalent, which is a slight disservice to Reagan. While Bush does get a lot of crap that he doesn’t deserve, his foreign policy was probably a little more ambitious than it should have been. Reagan was aggressive, but was typically content to manipulate Russia and use proxy powers to push he USSR into a position of weakness.

So, no, Bush was not Reagan in terms of foreign policy.

WolvenOne on October 23, 2012 at 2:25 AM

Now let us wait for the Trump bombshell on Wednesday, 9:00 AM Eastern.

Birdseye on October 23, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Obama = Romney.

Just like I have been saying all along.

Mitt Romney is Obama. They are politically nearly identical. Well other than that technical Republican registration.

Steveangell

You’re still an idiot…..just like we’ve been saying all along. That’s not what Trippi said at all.

xblade on October 23, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Sorry, more like Reagan, THAN Bush, in that respect.

I implied that Bush and Reagans foreign policies were equivalent, which is a slight disservice to Reagan. While Bush does get a lot of crap that he doesn’t deserve, his foreign policy was probably a little more ambitious than it should have been. Reagan was aggressive, but was typically content to manipulate Russia and use proxy powers to push he USSR into a position of weakness.

So, no, Bush was not Reagan in terms of foreign policy.

WolvenOne

I’m pretty sure if 9/11 had occurred on Reagan’s watch, his foreign policy ambition would have been a little more aggressive too.

xblade on October 23, 2012 at 3:14 AM

It’s Amazing how Dems and libs are now hitting Romney for not being “hawkish enough”

So all these “war protesters” during the Bush years were astroturfing???

Raquel Pinkbullet on October 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

If Romney wins, they’ll be out in force before his term is over filmed and commented upon (with positive Ain’t The First Amendment Great When It’s For Our Ideologies And Against Theirs spin) once again by a fawning Liberal media-bank on it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 23, 2012 at 5:06 AM

Is the TRUMP announcement a veiled threat against Gloria Allred and her supposed Romney threat she was going to unload???

Such games.

PappyD61 on October 23, 2012 at 6:52 AM

My take.

kingsjester on October 23, 2012 at 6:53 AM

Best moment of debate:

Obama’s Death Stare sets Romney’s tie on fire. Romney calmly pats it out, continues making his point.

Catahoula on October 23, 2012 at 7:04 AM

Is the TRUMP announcement a veiled threat against Gloria Allred and her supposed Romney threat she was going to unload???

Such games.

PappyD61 on October 23, 2012 at 6:52 AM

Same initial reaction here, BUT why would Donald state a time if it was veiled threat, seems like he would have left date/time open to manipulate her.

hillsoftx on October 23, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Send_Me on October 22, 2012 at 11:40 PM

Man, I’d like to see you post more often, Send_Me.

Cleombrotus on October 23, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I had to think a bit and get my thoughts from last night in order.

The main takeaway is that as Executive, there can be no foreign policy hiccups and continuity (at least in the short-term) is to be preserved. Gov. Romney’s goal was to take the last of the scare tactics away from his opponents, look competent and professional, and not be flustered by petty attacks and to actually point out they are petty. This last area of worry for a President was neutralized and Gov. Romney deftly took out the two major Presidential hats from Obama: the Head of State and CinC hats. By underplaying his position tonight, not feeding red meat to the base, and by re-assuring on foreign policy, the ‘Romney as warmonger’ cards are shredded.

If Gov. Romney left ‘attack points’ that Obama put out on the table, he also left out swaths of foreign policy on how to work with South/Latin America, other venues for curbing Iran and why draw-down agreements must be orderly and leave flexibility in them. You can’t parade around saying ‘we left Iraq’ and ‘we are leaving Afghanistan’ without also explaining why we are in S. Korea and Germany. Pressing the small business case for trade agreements is something the multi-culti Left should love, as it puts small US firms in close contact with small firms in different Nations to work together: you can’t attack Gov. Romney on this without showing the bankruptcy of multiculturalism. These areas seem to have caught President Obama flat-footed in areas where the President has the most oversight and control… yet there they stood making him look out of touch and unable to deal with the idea that there are other ways to go after problems than just sanctions alone and just military action alone. That lovely area of the pre-20th century may yet come back to show us just how out of touch the 20th century was and that we must learn not to forget the tools of the Nation State left to rust for over a century.

Americans do not like hard, sharp breaks in foreign policy, but smooth ones that make a lick of sense over a few years. When President Obama attacked Gov. Romney he was not pressing for why his own foreign policy was better and what its successes are as a policy. Whenever he was drawn back to domestic policy, it became a tired sounding quagmire of old ideas he ran on in 2008 and couldn’t get done in 4 years. That is not making a case for a strong foreign policy… kudos to Gov. Romney to keep on drawing the discussion back to domestic policy where the problems of this Administration are most glaring and even harder to defend than its foreign policy because Americans get to experience it day in and day out.

If you wanted meat and lots of it, you didn’t like last night.

If you enjoyed watching an experienced executive point out how unexecutive his opponent looked, then you had a great time at the President’s expense. Apparently one of the men was closing a deal… the other was starting to realize that he had been dealt with and couldn’t figure out how you can ‘win’ the debates and yet lose the job interviewing process.

ajacksonian on October 23, 2012 at 9:30 AM

If you enjoyed watching an experienced executive point out how unexecutive his opponent looked, then you had a great time at the President’s expense. Apparently one of the men was closing a deal… the other was starting to realize that he had been dealt with and couldn’t figure out how you can ‘win’ the debates and yet lose the job interviewing process.

this

Dr. Demento on October 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I’m pretty sure if 9/11 had occurred on Reagan’s watch, his foreign policy ambition would have been a little more aggressive too.

xblade on October 23, 2012 at 3:14 AM

Probably, I think even a dyed in the wool pacifist would’ve gone into Afghanistan after 9/11. Iraq, well its harder to say. Saddam needed to be dealt with, but especially in hindsight it was too soon. I could see Reagan both going in, and pursuing other solutions, so its hard to say conclusively what he would have done.

WolvenOne on October 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

This debate proves that scientists have not yet been able to successfully get to “sharks with freak’n laser beams”… Obama was the shark, and Mitt didn’t burst into flame!

dominigan on October 23, 2012 at 11:11 AM

It is good to know that Obama is on his way outta here!!

I am ecstatic!!

All Obama had was snark and that is not presidential… I have seen others here refer to him as a manchild, a narcissist, oh and how.

His true colours showed, and he is an unmitigated disaster!!

He is not only an empty suit, or an empty chair, his head is so clogged full of Marxism, it might as well be empty too…

I have never dispised a man as much as I do THIS man…

Happy Days will return again!!

Romney has a full boatload of O’s consequences to turn around, it will be a hard road, but Mitt Can Do It!!

Was thinking, in 2 weeks, after the Inaugeration of Romney, what are we gonna talk about?

Scrumpy on October 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM

If you enjoyed watching an experienced executive point out how unexecutive his opponent looked, then you had a great time at the President’s expense. Apparently one of the men was closing a deal… the other was starting to realize that he had been dealt with and couldn’t figure out how you can ‘win’ the debates and yet lose the job interviewing process.

Excellent!!

jimver on October 23, 2012 at 11:52 AM

I sure missed you guys!!

Thanks Jackie… catch you all later!!

Scrumpy on October 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM

I sure missed you guys!!

Thanks Jackie… catch you all later!!

Scrumpy on October 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM

We missed/miss you and are of course worried. Scrumpy, last! ; )

Bmore on October 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM

“It doesn’t matter what mode the president is in. It doesn’t matter what mode the Republican Party is in. There’s a power greater than both of them. It’s called math, and the math is going to consume us.”

So said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn on

I like the cut of his jib..:)

Dire Straits on January 26, 2013 at 11:16 PM

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