A mostly ho-hum final Presidential debate; meanwhile, in Delaware, the Bodenweiser indictment
Outsiders looking at the U.S. sometimes remark - despite the seemingly stark differences, the great ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals - practically speaking, when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, you don't have as many differences as people might think.
I was reflecting on that point as I watched Monday night's third, and final, Presidential debate on this election cycle.
Sure, President Obama blasted ex-Governor Romney for being "all over the map" with a muddled foreign policy vision. Governor Romney blasted the President for embarking on an "apology tour", and for telling Russian President Vladimir Putin at a conference that he (President Obama) could give more "flexibility" on certain issues during a second term. But when it came to the Arab Spring, particularly the Obama Administration's decision to give up support for then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, I could perceive no sharp practical difference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney.
Ex Governor Romney accused President Obama of having "wasted" four years while Iran advanced closer and closer to development of nuclear capability. But does anyone really believe if a President Romney had been in the White House these past four years, he would have ALREADY ordered a U.S. attack on Iran, even while U.S. troops were still deployed in Iran and Afghanistan, not to mention smaller U.S. military commitments in many other countries?
What had to surprise some last night was the extent that the two men were substantially in agreement, no matter the differences in tone. Clearly, the Romney high command advised their candidate to look "Presidential"; not to respond to every taunt from President Obama; and above all, to avoid a major dust-up over the Benghazi tragedy, lest the President get the better of him on that issue for a second time.
Former Governor Romney's cool approach had to displease some conservatives, who really wanted Mr. Romney to go for Mr. Obama's jugular. But it didn't happen. Doubtless, the Romney high command kept reminding the governor the few remaining undecided women don't reward overly muscular candidates. Doubtless, they advised Mr. Romney not to give the President any opportunity to pin the "warmonger" label on the governor.
You had stumbles, of course. Although ex Governor Romney correctly said the President had failed to win U.N. support for international action in Syria, Mr. Romney stumbled on geography when he asserted Syria was Iran's route to the sea. Iran does not border Syria; Iraq comes in between. Look at a map. Iran DOES have a route to the sea through the Persian (Arab) Gulf.
And, as has come up before, when the President asserts he would not have left ten thousand troops in Iraq, as that would tie us down: Remember, the Obama Administration originally envisioned a U.S. troop presence in Iraq after 2011 to assist the Iraqi armed forces. That broke down when the Iraqis could not agree to provide legal immunity to U.S. troops should any be accused of violating Iraqi law.
On Afghanistan, BOTH candidates very conveniently ignored the profound problems the United States has confronted in that country in recent months, particularly uniformed Afghans attacking U.S. troops.
As expected, vast swaths of the world got absolutely no attention - or only fleeting reference - in this debate.
And characteristically, each candidate did his best to refocus this ostensibly foreign policy debate on domestic affairs. That had to be infuriating to foreign observers, that the U.S. - despite military commitments around the world - is so utterly ethnocentric. Yet surely each side calculated that many voters, particularly the still undecided ones, have little interest in the world.
The instant polling immediately after this third and final debate pointed to a win for President Obama. But, with competing sporting events - and voter fatigue - fewer people watched. Consequently, Mr. Romney's lopsided win in the first debate still looms over the rest of the debates.
In retrospect, I see two turning points in this campaign since the early summer: The Democratic convention, with former President Clinton's extraordinary speech, and then ex Governor Romney's performance in that first debate. That second turning point continues to dominate.
By the way, CBS's Bob Schieffer was my favorite moderator for these four debates. He's a pro.
Meanwhile, here in Delaware, some of the rumors swirling around Eric Bodenweiser, the anointed Republican candidate for State Senator in Sussex County until last week, came to pass. A grand jury indicted Bodenweiser on 113 counts for the sexual abuse of a minor.
The original release from the Department of Justice said Bodenweiser had been under investigation for several weeks. Whether that means the investigation had begun BEFORE the Delaware G.O.P. Senate primary in which Bodenweiser ousted incumbent Joe Booth is unclear.
Surely Bodenweiser owed it to his party - and to the Tea Party movement - to withdraw from that primary contest, if he were aware of that investigation, no matter the question of guilt or innocence. If he had known, should he have allowed a fundraiser to proceed? Whatever one thinks of Christine O'Donnell, one can presume she enthusiastically endorsed Bodenweiser with a clear conscience. She did not deserve that. Nobody did.
O'Donnell's detractors - both Right & Left - will argue this is a classic example of O'Donnell not doing her homework. Before making such an extravagant, public endorsement, they argue she should have researched the candidate she was about to endorse, even hire a private investigator to sniff around.
I happened to have dinner - and then deliver a speech - at a senior citizens' center (Stonegate) Monday night just before the Presidential debate.
We briefly discussed the Bodenweiser story at our table. One woman, a liberal Democrat, asked why it was that some of the most moralistic, Christian conservatives seem to be caught with this sort of stuff all the time? I reminder her that liberal politicians and figures have been caught in this sort of thing as well; it's just seen as less hypocritical because they don't necessarily preach morality.
But my personal theory: Some folks, realizing they have such a compunction, staunchly proclaim their moral views in the hope that they'll be able to stop themselves. They realize that if they loudly proclaim traditional morality (child abuse is the extreme; we could include here extra-martial affairs, etc.) - and then get caught - their reputations will be dealt a fatal blow. They earnestly hope that certainty constrains them from doing that which is wrong.
In Bodenweiser's case, however, the alleged misconduct occurred long before he was competing in the political realm, at least at the legislative level.
(On Delaware's political blogs - conservative AND liberal - people are discussing if, in fact, the alleged abuse occurred, whether Bodenweiser sought to cleanse himself by becoming "born again". Some of Bodenweiser's remaining defenders see character assassination, a political smear, etc., and question the credibility of the accuser.)
Eerily, I saw images of news footage while listening Romney speak about foreign policy. The images were of flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq to Dover Air Force, weeping mothers wrestling with the anguish of an 18-year-old son lost forever.
I saw images from TV commercials about Wounded Warrior project: a 20-year-old young man who lost both legs in Afghanistan, now being spoon-fed because he cannot eat by himself.
Thousands of our soldiers and their families have suffered unspeakable torment in wars the past ten years.
How many more of these soldiers and their families, if Romney becomes president and starts new wars?
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:04am
Yes teatime war sucks...but Romney specifically stated last night he wants NO new wars. In Syria he wants to support the "good rebels" in setting up a counsel to be ready once the regime there finally falls.
Also teatime, the current occupant in office has spent more money in Afghanistan in four years than Bush did in eight...more importantly 66% of the deaths of our troops have taken place under Obama's time in office. Once Osama bin Laden was removed from this planet our troops should have been removed from Afghanistan and back home with their families. Instead the Taliban have been given a time table exactly how long they have to survive until we leave and they fill in the vacuum left from our presence.
Mr. Loudell, do you think that Romney intentionally agreed with Obama on foreign policy to (1)avoid looking like GW Bush and (2)continue hammering Obama on the ECONOMY?
I think that he disagreed on at least one important foreign policy issue...especially on who the biggest worldwide threat is. Romney said it was a nuke-armed Iran, but Obama said China...how wise is it to call the country to whom you currently owe Trillions of dollars the biggest threat?
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:09am
BTW Mr. Loudell, I completely agree with you on which moderator was the most professional in this series of debates. CBS's Bob Schieffer did an excellent job and let both men actually debate.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:14am
I agree with your points about George W. Bush and keeping the primary debate on the economy...
But I would add two more reasons: Looking like the frontrunner - and - appealing to women who wouldn't necessarily favor an overly aggressive presentation. That said, it is interesting the "Walmart moms" in one focus group gave the debate to the President.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 10:00am
....and I agree with your two points.
He has not been doing as well as Obama with the women voters, especially those who see Romney as a "warmonger".
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 10:24am
I thought Obama won the debate. He did a good job defending his policies in the foreign affairs arena. He stated clearly that he'd not allow Iran to get nukes, etc. Romney did OK, but it wasn't up to his other two debate performances. The economy is Mitt's strong subject, not foreign affairs, just as it wasn't Obama's strongest subject four years ago. Being President does give the incumbent the advantage as he actually sees all the top-secret stuff; the challenger has to guess.
An example is how Obama campaigned in 2008 that he'd pull our troops out of Iraq rather quickly, but after getting in the White House, he changed his approach. Obviously once he saw stuff we and the media don't get to see, he realized he had to change his original plans. I give him credit for being flexible enough to do that. Not all Presidents would have; Bush Jr. comes to mind.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 12:41pm
@Earl Grey, of course politicians are known to SAY one thing and do something else. Mitt Romney isn't going to say "I want a war" but clearly his answers in last night's debate illustrate that the U.S. is exponentially more likely to start new wars (for no reason) with Romney in the White House.
Romney made it clear he would not even engage in a dialogue with Iran, Venezuela, Syria (President Bashir al-Assad), North Korea and a myriad of other nations. Romney is unfit to be a leader which requires the ability to interact to all nations and settle differences with diplomacy.
Another way to look at this? Pretend this is the 2000 Presidential Election. A vote for George W. Bush means thousands of 18-year-olds coming back to Dover Air Base in coffins or returning as quadrapelgics. A vote for Gore means all these young people are still around today and have a chance to see their sons and daughters grow up.
A vote for Romney guarantees that more young people will die and suffer. And, the chances of a nuclear holocaust becomes a reality with Romney as President.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 3:07pm
Tea Time is right to pick up on Romney's war-mongering. I believe everyone else here picked up on it, but one would expect those whose sole cause is to voice support of whomever the Republican candidate happens to be, to sweep it under.
For 18 months, Romney has been saying Obama has shown weakness on Iran. For 18 months Romney has implied he and Israel would tell Iran, 'stop now, or we'll bomb you'. And never once did he consider what he'd do, if Iran said... Go ahead.
That is till Bob put the question to him last night... And do you Republicans remember what his answer was?
I would do what Obama is doing.....
Then on Syria; I would do just what Obama is doing.
Then on Libya; I would do just what Obama is doing.
Then on Russia; I would do just what Obama is doing.
Then on China; I would do just what Obmaa is doing....
And then, on China; America got a peek at the real Romney.
And so we can be a partner with China. We don't have to be an adversary in any way, shape, or form.
"On day one I will label them a currency manipulator......"
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 3:39pm
teatime, Feel free to vote for Obama...it's your choice, but, if we continue with the same policies (especially the current rules of engagement), we will continue to lose brave men/women in foreign countries around the world. How is allowing another four years for Iran to complete its nukes (and Obama has recently been quoted as saying they should have that right) going to keep the world safer?
When our military is strong, we are actually less likely to go to war...when we are seen as weak, that is when the enemies of our nation will attack. How many lions are attacked by lambs? It goes back to Reagan's Peace Through Strength theory...and how many wars did we have under Ronnie?
And any comments concerning the dramatic increase of US military deaths in Afghanistan under Obama? 66% happened under his watch and does anyone have a clue why our troops are even still there...what's the mission?...what's the goal?
And final point, Romney is NOT Bush! He is very different individual with very different views of our role in the world.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 4:21pm
Reaction to Earl Gray.
Certainly when our military is strong. it prevents people from attacking us. I mean who walks up to a six-foot-six male at 285 pounds and punches him in that face for no reason? Perhaps only one who is suicidal....
But a strong military is only a deterrent against war, when you have a leader who is calm and cool. Mitt Romney is not that. Mitt Romney plays to whomever he happens to be with. If talking to Palestine, Mitt Romney is pro-Hezbollah. If talking to Israel, he is pro-settlement. When Mitt is with Tea Partiers, Mitt is bellicose. We've heard it for 18 months. When Mitt is on television unfiltered, Mitt appears weaker than Obama. What really is Mitt's stance? It is anyone's guess.
Hitler was that way too. And look what happened to all those who put him in power? We look backward and say from Mein Kampf, Hitler always said he would be the aggressor. And half of Germany voted against him. There were (if you read Albert Speer in Germany), people like teatime who saw what Hitler was like, and who voted against him. But there were more of the Earl Grays, Mr. Pizza's and Mike's of Delaware, who only looked at the Hitler just before the election, when he did exactly what Romney is doing now... lie. "I never said I would do that." "I never said that was my policy". "I never said any of those things..."
That is how Hitler won by the thinnest margins. And as teatime picks up, once in absolute power, Hitler was corrupted absolutely..... and Germany lost many fine men, women, and children who otherwise would have had happy and prosperous lives.
American businesses and American allies need to know what the future holds. They need it for their plans. With Obama we know exactly what we will get. We know that the US will stand with Israel. We know that we will work with the entire world, get in sanctions that have no holes, ....
I know that selective memory fades, but when we had the last president who also made vague promises, who also promised prosperity, whose calculations also did not make sense, but Americans thought he would be better to share a beer with than his opponent, we got 9/11; we got Iraq; we got Afghanistan; we got a Depression; we got upside-down mortgages; we got higher insurance premiums; we got our deductibles raised; we got our medical expenses denied out of hand; we paid the highest ever for gasoline; we got lower wages; and as teatime rightly notes, we got our sons and daughters flown into Dover in body bags...
On the other hand, with Obama, we got Osama Bin Laden. With Obama, we have American cars on our roads today..... With Obama we have house prices rising again; with Obama we increased consumer confidence; with Obama we have new housing starts on the rise; with Obama we have Wal-mart shopping higher than before the recession; with Obama we have Home Depot sales higher than before the recession; with Obama we have unemployment going down... We have some really good things happening right now... And Romney was on the wrong side of every one.
It would be wise to research the election of Hitler in 1932, and compare those similarities I mentioned above, instead of just taking my word for it... It is very chilling how exactly like that person Mitt Romney is. And how Paul Ryan's disregard for truth, makes him just like Goebbels.
And so as not to end on a somber note, this is for Mr. Pizza.lol.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 5:22pm
@Earl Grey. Obama has already started a dialogue with Iran. Romney would've simply started a war.
Important point: If 'peace through strength' works, shouldn't Iran, North Korea, et. al strengthen their nuclear arsenal to ensure peace and prevent an attack from the United States?
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 5:38pm
Upon reading across the transcript this jumped out at me on domestic issues... It shows a lack of grasp over what one says... We all make mistakes, but when we are going to be pulverized for everyone, one would think a future president of the United States of America would be more circumspect and careful.
"Come on our website. You look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years. We do it by getting -- by reducing spending in a whole series of program"...
Eight to ten years. He also criticized Obama:
"He hasn't balanced a budget, yet....."
So Romney get 8-10 years to balance a budget and Obama has to have it done in 3?
How can you say someone is a failure when you yourself can't do it better? You can't.
He is not a failure. He is probably the best president we have seen in our lifetimes....
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 6:16pm
On the day after the last debate, President Obama hit the ground running, rallying in Florida and Ohio.
Mitt Romney began his "apology" tour...
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:43pm
Teatime: And more soldiers won't die under a second Obama term? What in the world are you thinking?
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:44pm
Kavips: There's only one best president in our lifetime: RONALD WILSON REAGAN
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:47pm
The Republicans are having a tough enough time in Delaware as it is. Mr. Bodenweiser gives us a big black eye. On a statewide level, this case has Watergate potential.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 9:49pm
If Mr. Romney goes on an apology tour, he must apologize for the ilk we currently have in the White House. I too would apologize for such an embarrassment.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 11:40pm
kavips: Of course you would do exactly what Obama is doing - on everything, because he's your boy and you're just like him.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 1:04am
Thanks for the compliment... being called the best president ever by association, is well taken, even though offered in jest... :)
And sorry I can't return the compliment. Saying you are just like Romney or Ryan would be untrue; they need to be a lot more honest before they match your caliber...
Let's look at Romney. During the primaries, no one wanted him; only because he was the only one left and somehow won Florida (where he owns voting machines, I might add) is the reason he's your candidate....
Btw. Can you guess which Republican raised the second largest amount of money behind Romney? According to the FEC, it is Ron Paul...
Here is my problem with Romney. When it comes to the future, he is blank on ideas. When pushed, his only answer is "we'll let you know after the election". I can't vote for someone like that.
The only time Romney sounds presidential, is when he is bashing Obama on the past. On unemployment, on Libya, on Syria, on missiles in Poland.
When asked what he would do differently, he defaults to what Obama has done, stating: "I'd also do it his way."
In fact in all the places where Obama stumbled, Romney wants you to know he would do it differently. On Obama's successes, he wants you to know he'd to it better and quicker too.
Now, if simple assertions solved complex problems, Romney would no doubt be the man for the moment. If hindsight were a horse, he’d ride tall in the saddle.
But too often, the conduct of foreign-policy is a real-time exercise that uses imperfect tools to respond to unexpected events in an uncertain world. Judged by realistic standards, Obama’s foreign-policy record is pretty solid."
Romney states he can do it better. Anything is possible. A polar bear could maul Allan in the studio. But usually in this real world, accepting reality, is the preferable way of looking at the world....
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 3:51am
Someone above brought up the question as to why Romney must do an "apology tour". I thought it was obvious but here you go.
He needs to apologize for embarrassing the Republican party in Monday's Debate. 1916. What a clown.
He needs to apologize for being unprepared: Syria is Iran's only path to the sea. (Governor, We have these things that you look at, with shapes on them for countries; they're called maps.)
He needs to apologize to all Republicans for getting their hopes up in the first debate, when he or Ryan couldn't deliver in any of the others.
He needs to apologize to all Republicans for not showing us his tax returns, and thereby it will probably cost them the election. After all, how can anyone trust him?
He needs to apologize for pretending he was a great champion of foreign affairs, but when pressed, he, like Donald Trump, was speechless and would only do what Obama is already doing.
He needs to apologize for making political hay out of the death of Ambassador Stevens. "Someone died; yoo-hoo, vote for me, vote for me."
He needs to apologize to the Tea Party for leading them on that he was pro-life.
He needs to apologize to the Tea Party for making them believe that he actually had a plan that would work to reduce the deficit and balance the budget.
He needs to apologize to the middle-class, because the deductions he is going to remove are the mortgage deduction, state and local income tax deductions, medical deductions....
He needs to apologize to those who wasted money on him for all those ads no one will bother looking at.
He needs to apologize for tricking those undecideds during the first debate who then switched their vote and changed the polling data by their responses, who only went for him because they saw him as a moderate Republican like the Rockefeller and Romney of old....
That's just a few I could think of randomly. I'm sure there are many more...
And to be fair, Obama should apologize too..... for beating Romney up as bad as Joe beat up Ryan.... :)
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 11:43am
@teatime: I thoroughly disagreed with Ron Paul's foriegn policy so I guess the two of us shall never agree on Iran. I did however agree with him on auditing the Fed (it appears Germany also agrees & they are auditing their gold in the Fed Reserve) and only one president is going to do this...hint hint, it's not BHO.
Only one candidate is strong on the Second Amendment like Ron Paul.
Only one is for smaller government....
Other than the fearmongering hypotheticals thrown against Romney/Ryan what do you actually like about Obama? I'm serious, I really don't understand why you would choose Obama over Gary Johnson...or even a Ron Paul write-in protest vote since Obama is against almost everything RP stands for.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 7:32pm
Teatime: Regarding "peace through strength", I assume you weren't born yet when Reagan was president?
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 9:04pm
"Important point: If 'peace through strength' works, shouldn't Iran, North Korea, et. al strengthen their nuclear arsenal to ensure peace and prevent an attack from the United States?"~teatime
You completely miss the point of Reagan's Peace Through Strength...when our nation is strong, we are much less likely to go to war or be attacked. If Iran, North Korea etc. are stronger, that actually increases the odds of war...especially if the country is run by a militant fundamentalist Islamist intent on bringing forth the 12th Imam through the bloodshed of the "Great Satan" (America) and Israel.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 9:37pm
Couldn't have said it better myself, EarlGrey.
Mike from Delaware
Thu, Oct 25, 2012 12:21pm
Obama explained the plan for the military which apparently the Joints Chiefs of Staff approved. So where is the problem? IF Obama was gutting the military then we'd be hearing plenty of noise from the Joints Chiefs AND the military industrial complex (Boeing, Lockheed, etc).
This is a "straw man" argument.
Thu, Oct 25, 2012 12:48pm
The problem is that he said both yes and no...different answers to the same question but different audiences. As Joe Wilson would say "he lied".
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