The best summations from around the blogosphere on the third and final Presidential debate:
After the first truly epic implosion in the first debate, Obama has clawed his way back in the following two, in my view. He has marshalled his arguments as potently as possible; he brought the themes of his candidacy together compellingly. His advantage on foreign policy will not, I think, diminish; it may well strengthen. And that is only just. After eight years of the most disastrous, misguided, immoral and a catastrophic foreign policy, Obama has brought the US back from the brink, presided over the decimation of al Qaeda, the liberation of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and restored America’s moral standing in the world.
For Romney, he made no massive mistakes. No Gerald Ford moments. And since the momentum of this race is now his, if now faltering a little, a defeat on points on foreign policy will be an acceptable result. But this was Obama’s debate; and he reminded me again of how extraordinarily lucky this country has been to have had him at the helm in this new millennium.
Romney’s presidential dream is going up in smoke before his eyes. He’s confused, and this foreign-policy subject is exactly wrong for his shifting-sands rhetorical strategy of late: the candidate in this debate wants to project stoic consistency, and he’s not doing that. On some questions he seems anxious to convince people that he’ll use force quickly, and on other questions he seems to be trying to say exactly the opposite. It’s rattling him and he’s stammering more than usual.
No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya. Both candidates agreed that America’s task was to spread freedom around the world: nobody mentioned Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or rendition. “Governor, you’re saying the same things as us, but you’d say them louder,” said Obama. It was a good line. The trouble was it condemned them both.
That was just a wretched debate, with almost no redeeming qualities. It was substance-free, boring, and suffuse with empty platitudes. Bob Scheiffer’s questions were even more vapid and predictably shallow than they normally are, and one often forgot that he was even there (which was the most pleasant part of the debate.)
The vast majority of the most consequential foreign policy matters (along with the world’s nations) were completely ignored in lieu of their same repetitive slogans on the economy. When they did get near foreign policy, it was to embrace the fundamentals of each other’s positions and, at most, bicker on the margin over campaign rhetoric.
President Obama won the foreign policy debate, cleanly and decisively, on both style and substance. It was a clear a victory as Mitt Romney‘s in the first debate. And Romney lost in similar fashion: he seemed nervous, scattered, unconvincing–and he practiced unilateral disarmament, agreeing with Obama hither and yon…on Iraq (as opposed to two weeks ago), on Afghanistan (as opposed to interviews he’s given this fall), on Libya and Syria and Iran.
Mitt’s entire debate strategy: What he just said, but from a white guy.