We live in a world where new threats constantly emerge, power structures are frequently in flux and diplomacy is increasingly important to those who hold power. As leader of the free world (in theory) the President of the United States must posses a nuanced and thoughtful world view.
The best way for candidates to display that worldview is in a series of soundbites spread out over 90 minutes to an audience of folks who would have a hard time finding the Middle East on a map. Fortunately, we’ll hear nothing of the President’s secret war, nor of Mitt Romney’s dis-interest in putting a stop to it. Nor will we hear about the vast powers to make war that the Executive branch has accumulated in the last 30 years, because acknowledging it might mean giving some of them back.
Also, do not expect to hear ‘human rights violations’ mentioned before ‘currency manipulation’ as it pertains to China, if China gets mentioned at all.
9:02- Annnnd Gametime! Bob Schieffer reminds us that this is the fourth and ‘final’ Presidential debate. Tomorrow’s third party debate doesn’t count, b/c hey, it’s not like those people have SuperPACs, and therefore, aren’t real candidates.
9:03- As a matter of housekeeping-again a hat tip to Cletar for the header image. The man is a treasure folks, please recognize him as such.
9:03- Also worth noting-Mitt Romney won both coin tosses, so he gets to go first here, and close the debate. Based on the phrasing of Bob’s first question tells me we will talk about war, how to wage it, when to wage it, and on whom. If we should, or why, will not enter into this debate.
9:05- Iran! Drink, motherfuckers. I have nothing else to add.
9:06- 9/11! Drink again! I will pledge, right now, to give a bright, shiny vote to the next Presidential candidate to not mention 9/11. I look forward to casting that vote as a disembodied head in 2172 for Forsythe Prescott Augustus Bush III.
9:08- Go after the bad guys is a very comprehensive, thoughtful strategy. Mitt Romney said that his strategy is broader than that. I’m not sure how much broader than ‘Git ’em!’ you can be.
9:09- ZOMG Mitt Romney just blasted on about ‘gender equality’ in the Middle East. He of the ‘I do not support Planned Parenthood or Lily Ledbetter here in America b/c Socialism’ wants gender equality abroad. I’d love to hear that defined.
9:11- The President has just secured the hipster vote with his ‘The 1980s called and…’ zinger.
9:13- Schieffer is adding a couple of minutes for Romney to respond. Fox News regards this as ‘fair’.
9:16- While we’re talking about Syria, I think it’s important to echo a point Chris Hayes made on his show yesterday, which is that we did plenty of arming of the rebels in Libya, and that ended pretty bad for a few Americans, didn’t it? So, let’s do it again in Syria? Okay!
9:19- I’m sure, Mittens, that if we put weapons in the hands of the Syrians we trust, NONE of them will ever, at all end up in the hands of extremists. That seems easy enough, doesn’t it?
9:20- I can’t help but wonder if Romney’s eagerness to find more wars is simply to ensure that his grandchildren have the opportunity to avoid military service at time of need.
9:22- Mitt Romney doesn’t want our military involved in Syria, just our guns. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Fast & Furious: Damascus Drift!
9:23- Mitt Romney wants us to prop up a ‘friendly regime’. He really is very Reagan-esque, isn’t he?
9:27- Shorter Romney ‘Our mission is to make sure the world is peaceful-by blowing shit up’.
9:28- Romney closes a segment and opens another one? Okay, then.
9:29- ‘People tend to vote for peace, not for war’ Except here, where our options are a little bit limited, these days.
9:31- I wish we could get a ‘stink-eye’ clock on the President, as he is really giving it to Romney right now.
9:32- Shorter Obama ‘By ending the war in Iraq, we had more resources for robot death planes in Afghanistan’
9:33- America is an indispensable nation. I think Caesar said something like that, once.
9:34- Romney, of the Westfield Mall Romneys, wants you to know that business is the key to international success.
9:37- ‘How did Massachusetts get great at math and reading?’ Um, with a Democratic legislature passing good education policy?
9:38- I think it’s important to note, at this point in the debate, that we are in Boca Raton, Florida tonight, which is only 1100 miles from where Mitt Romney believes the Garden of Eden was.
9:39- Sean Hannity has to be cursing at his TV and smacking the immigrant child who sands down his bunions at Bob Scheiffer daring to question Mitt Romeny on his budget.
9:40- This fucking shit about the Navy being smaller than it was in 1917 is ridiculous. Same with the Air Force. These are fair comparisons, as we have clearly had no advances in technology in the last 95 years.
9:43- The crowd gave a little titter at Obama’s response to this. We’ve also had our first Battleship reference of the night. First one to bring up Risk gets 5 bonus points.
9:44- Red Lines, Israel and Iran is also the name of Jon Stewart’s new one man show.
9:47- Can’t we just put Ahmadinejad and Bibi in a cage match and let them have it out that way?
9:50- What? No, we aren’t talking to Iran, why would we talk to them when we can just bomb them?
9:52- Mallard Fillmore Romney thinks that Iran sees weakness in the current President. Because Iran has not been antagonizing America for the better part of a generation.
9:55- You know, I’m staring at my 8-bit Nintendo right now, and thinking I could recreate Romney’s foreign policy by turning it on and popping in ‘1942’ right now.
9:57- Why would America apologize? Tens of thousands murdered in a war waged under false pretenses? Obviously, those brown folks brought it on themselves. By being brown, and such. And foreign, also.
10:00- Ahem- it’s ‘Democratic’ Senators.
10:04- ‘We’ll make sure we’re ready to bring our troops home’. Folks, we have a new record for ‘Emptiest Platitude’.
10:07- I’m going to go ahead and say it- I think this would be more interesting if they let the candidates play a game of Risk, and forced them to explain their strategies as they went. It would certainly be more instructive. Plus, we could invite a third party candidate or two, because two-player Risk is lame.
10:11- ‘Is it time to divorce Pakistan?’ Depends, did it cheat with that whore, China? We need Maury’s lie detector.
10:12- I stand corrected-we got a half-assed question about drones, though we will not get any follow up about the morality and execution of the President’s drone war.
10:14- Bob did try to get the President to slander China. Obama doesn’t take the bait. Please note that ‘plays by the rules’ is not code for human rights.
10:17- ‘How strong is America’ in China’s eyes? Well, as late as spring of this year, they were still buying up our debt, so they must be alright for now.
10:19- I haz a dumb-explain to me how labeling China a currency manipulator solves for pirating, hacking, etc?
10:20- You know what else would solve the problem of counterfeit manufactured goods coming from China? I’ll let you all answer this.
10:23- You should know that George Clooney has pledged $5K everytime the President says ‘China’.
10:25- Hey Willard! I’ve got all the banks who wanted to invest in Detroit in 2008 on the phone, they’d like to speak to you. Just keep holding until after the election, they’ll be right on…
10:26- Romney is trying to ‘airbrush history’. He’s helping small business.
10:28- This was a vigorous debate? Nursing home sack races have more vigor.
10:32- The closing statements have wonderful, platitude filled, fact free feeling to them. Mitt Romney will work with good Democrats as in ‘Democrats who betray the party’s platform’.
10:35- Worth noting: Maddow is pointing out Mitt’s unqualified support for no-questions-asked withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. His campaign will walk that back by about 10:48, I suspect.
If there’s one topic on which these campaigns and candidates differ very little, it’s foreign policy, and I think we saw that tonight. It helps them both immensely that Americans, on balance, don’t know enough about foreign policy.
As a matter of comparison, I happen to be ‘friends’ with a state representative (Republican) on the BookFace, and his response to the debate referenced the ‘arrogance’ of the President and his ‘fear for the Republic’ if the President were to be re-elected. The lesson, as always- partisanship is blind, and sometimes a little dumb.