My first impression of last night’s presidential debate was that President Obama did not want to talk about foreign policy – the subject of this debate. He abruptly changed the subject to domestic policy five times by my count. This did not include closing statements or times when it was a fairly natural, logical segway. But maybe he just wanted to get back to the economy and taxes because he thinks Americans are more interested in those topics than foreign policy.
The other impression was that Mr. Obama did not think he needed to be debating at all. He frequently used condescending words and tone of voice. To me, it seemed as if he felt his ideas were obviously superior and it was unnecessary for him to defend what should be apparent to all.
I keep wondering why liberals resort to insulting and calling their opponents names. Many of the “experts” did that in the post-debate analysis. On CNN, Alex Constellanos gave specific examples of where Mitt Romney did well: he looked such a way, he said such and such. On the other hand, Van Jones comments on Romney were that Romney lost the debate because he lied and just fell apart. Jones did not cite any facts or statistics to prove his claim of falsehoods.
The President uses the same tactics. Last night, and today while campaigning, Mr. Obama said Romney’s ideas are all from the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Of course, the President is implying that this is bad. But the US was strong and prosperous during those years. Maybe a look to what worked well in the past is a better idea than just pushing aside time-honored policies for unproven proposals.
Mr. Obama was absolutely arrogant and snarky concerning Romney’s military spending plans. It isn’t a bad idea to question why Romney would want to spend money on equipment military leaders say they do not want. But the idea of a strong US military is admirable and after Romney has detailed conversations with military leaders, maybe he will think differently. (Or maybe with a supportive commander-in-chief, the generals would feel free to ask for needed hardware.) The President belittled Romney’s call for more naval vessels, saying that with technology we do not need as many as in 1916 (the year Romney cites). Mr. Obama said Romney wanted to go back to the days of horses and bayonets, that today we have “ships that go underwater – nuclear submarines”. A conservative commentator today mentioned that soldiers are still trained in the use of bayonets. Another pointed out that ships are not obsolete. My first thought last night was that aircraft carriers and ships with long-range missile launching capability have been a key part of several conflicts, including Kosovo. It’s bad enough when someone is snarky when they are right, but it makes them look petty and mean when the facts do not back them up.
(A more detailed look at specific foreign policy topics from the debate will be posted in the next few days. Check under the category “2012 Election” or “US Foreign Policy”.)