Romney, even if he didn’t win the debate, walked out of the debate a winner *UPDATED*

What one can say with certainty about the last presidential debate is that it is not a game-changer — which is good for Romney, because the game is currently scoring in his favor.  In that way, it was a nothing of a debate.  Nevertheless, there were aspects of the debate that were fascinating.

Fascinating aspect No. 1:  Obama’s rhetoric had absolutely nothing to do with his presidency.  If I had never heard of Obama before last night and then tuned into the debate, I would have been impressed by what he said (except for the nasty tone, which I’ll get to later).  He spoke about a balance of diplomacy and might, he spoke of a strong military, he claimed to be a true friend to Israel, he understood that America is a world leader, he touted America’s responsibility to advance freedom, he recognized that one can’t be a leader with a disastrous home economy, he said he supported Iran’s abortive Green revolution, and he said that he would never allow Iran to get the bomb.  It was as if the last three and a half years never happened.

The Obama of the debate never had kill lists for Pakistan and crawl-on-the-belly lists for Russia.  He didn’t offend England, and Poland, and the Czech Republic, while making nice to Chavez and Morsi.  Nor did the debate Obama have anything to do with depleting the military to a point where it’s at its weakest since before WWI.

The talking head with saw last night is so tightly linked with Israel that, not only is there no daylight between the two, but he and Netanyahu will be the first in line when gay marriage is federally recognized.  This seems a little bit at odds with the insults, slights, demands, and cold-shoulders the administration aimed at Israel for more than three years.  Obama’s debate posture pretends that, when it came to Israel’s borders, Obama didn’t make a precondition for negotiations more extreme even than the Palestinians were demanding. This Obama, unlike the real world Obama, is BFFs with Israel.

The debate Obama was a champion of American exceptionalism, a man who never went around the world explaining to foreign countries that America isn’t so great and, if she leads at all, she should lead from behind.  This was not a man who boasted that he would fundamentally transform America.  Nor was this a man who made it plain that his fundamental transformation included attacking America’s core identity, many of her constitutional rights, and her economic system.

Finally, last night’s Obama was so tough, I’m surprised he hasn’t already bombed Iran back into the Stone Age.  Where was the man who stood aside while the Iranian people took to the streets demanding greater freedom?  Where was the man who has consistently worked to weaken the sanctions Congress has imposed on Iran?  And where was the president who has been so passive about Iran’s nuclear program that Ahmadinejad has endorsed him for president?

Frankly, I found this Obamabot irritating.  He’s like the guy who, behind closed doors, abuses his wife but, in public, calls her “Sweetie” and holds her hand,  He’s a brute, not because he doesn’t know any better (his public behavior shows that he does), but because he wants to be a brute.  That’s where his private inclinations lie.  Last night, Obama demonstrated that he knows perfectly well what is good for America and what Americans want, but his behavior over the past three years shows that he wants to be a weak, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-military leader.  He’s the presidential equivalent of a wife beater.

Fascinating aspect No. 2:  Romney ignored Obama.  After trying to go head-to-head with Obama in the second debate, Romney went back to his first debate strategy of talking directly to the American people.  It wasn’t as effective as in debate no. 1, because Obama was more animated but, in a funny way, it was the most insulting thing Romney could have done.  (And we’ll get back to insults in a minute.)

In the first debate, Romney focused on introducing himself to the American people, not as the Frankenstein Capitalist the Obama media and Obama himself created, but as an intelligent, thoughtful, humane individual.  Romney achieved that goal and then some.  In this second debate, though, Romney wanted to show the American people that he is presidential.  He talked to them about broad policy concerns, and treated Obama like a buzzing fly.  Romney swatted at Obama occasionally, but otherwise focused on having a dialogue with the voters.

I would have liked to have seen Romney challenge Obama more directly on some of his lies (and there were a lot of lies), but Romney’s approach was, as I said, peculiarly insulting on its own terms.  He essentially said Obama is so irrelevant he can be ignored.

Fascinating aspect No. 3:  Obama was unbelievably nasty and condescending.  The true believers were elated by his “wit,” but I wonder if the undecideds didn’t find it unpresidential.  This was not a frat party or even an Alfred E. Smith dinner roast.  This was a serious presidential debate.  Unloading the equivalent of “Yoo hoo, old fart, the 80s are calling,” was not statesmanlike, and Romney was wise to look at the camera (i.e., the voters) and ignore it.

The nastiest statement, of course, was Obama’s response when Romney made a lengthy argument about the problems with our depleted military.  Romney talked about the fact that the military can no longer fight a war on two fronts and about the Navy’s concerns that the Navy has too few ships.  With regard to that last, Romney noted in passing that we have fewer ships than we’ve had since 1917.  Obama ignored the overarching argument entirely (Obama’s policies are weakening our military during dangerous times for America), and got terribly excited about the whole 1917 (or, as Obama said, 1916) bit:

You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

Ouch!  In 7th grade, that would have been a great riposte.  At a presidential debate, not so much.  None of us  one likes someone who is condescending and arrogant, and that’s true whether the insult is directed at us or at someone else.  More than that, by making such a definitive statement about today’s military, Obama left himself wide open to corrections.  And it’s easy to correct his gross errors.  Yes, in 1917, the military mostly had battleships and now has aircraft carriers, but it also requires a host of supporting ships, from amphibious assault vessels to destroyers to supply ships, etc.  And as everyone except the president knows as of this morning, we use horses in Afghanistan and the military still trains with bayonets for close combat.

There is a difference between being witty and being nasty.  When I was 13, I didn’t know the difference and I wasn’t much liked.  Now, I’ve figured it out, and people enjoy my company.  Obama wasn’t witty, he was nasty, and that’s the one thing he couldn’t afford in this election.  After all, Obama’s never had anything to run on but his likability.  In 2008, he needed to be liked because he had no record; in 2012, he needs to be liked because he has a big record.

UPDATE: A friend sent me a link to an article from last year discussing the way in which bayonets continue to be useful in battle situations. My dad used bayonets at El Alamein (or maybe somewhere in Crete — I’m not quite sure), and he considered them his friends in battle.

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  • nuqlv9ol7u

    Submarines are boats not ships. I suspect most Sailors found this grating.

  • BrianE

    Very good points. 

    The disconnect between what Obama described as his policies and what he has done during the last four years is disturbing. What would be more disturbing is if the American people didn’t notice it.

    You’ve done a good job of describing the real man.


  • Patrick

    I listened to the debate on the radio while watching Game 7 of baseball’s National League Championship Series, so I missed some of the president’s smirking condescension, but even with audio alone it was easy to tell that Mitt Romney sounded more presidential. He was, I think, more verbose than he should have been, but as you suggest, he “held serve” — and in this context, that counts as a win. Thank you for an insightful analysis.

  • nuqlv9ol7u

    Marines are issued bayonets, and they are not just for display. I found this especially grating.

  • JKB

    You know what’s missing from the bayonets and horses discussion.  Context.  See, Obama prefaced that remark by saying Romney didn’t know how the military works.  Then he rushes in to prove he doesn’t know how the military works.

    I see the Left is ecstatic over the remark but then Obama used the Leftist caricature of the military so they “get it” even if “it” is in their fevered imaginations.

    I’ll have to go find who it was but someone wrote a very good blog post on why Benghazi had to be denied since it undercut Obama’s plans.  His plans for touting success in the Middle East but also his plans to cut the military to pay for his hopes and dreams.  Now we see in blood that Al Qaeda is not down but rising and those defense cuts look a little like surrender instead of a peace dividend. 

  • JKB

    Full quote:

    “But I think Gov. Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” said Obama. “You mention the Navy, and how we have fewer ships than 1916. We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have aircraft carriers; we have ships that go underwater; nuclear submarines.” 

  • 94Corvette

    Can you imagine how Obama felt when Romney didn’t open the Libya question up?  It reminded me of when I was in college and studied the wrong material for an exam.  The essay/discussion question of the test I had worked so hard on and the teacher has the gall to omit it?  You know that had to throw him off his stride; after all, what’s he gonna do, go “Terrorist Attack, Spontaneous Demonstration – it’s two crisis in one!?” 

    I believe it was around 1980, Russia (and their puppet, Cuba), moved some MIGs to Cuba which didn’t sit well with our government.  We sent a task force to Gitmo and staged an amphibious assault there on the beaches we control.  Message was clear, Havana could be next.  Russia and Cuba backed down and the MIG’s departed.  Kind of like that old phase, “Lo, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I am the meanest one there.”   

    Mitt had it right, if we are strong economically, if we are the pinnacle of integrity and dependability in dealing with both friends and foes, if our military is strong, we will avoid trouble with enemies. 

    2016’s message was clear; Obama’s mission is to deminish the US and he has done it well.  We need to change course before it is too late.

  • jj

    Let it not pass unremarked that we also in fact have fewer of those things called “aircraft carriers” than we once considered to be the minimum number we ought to have – fewer than at any time in my life.  (When Enterprise hangs ’em up for the last time in a month or so, we’ll be down to ten.  And she’s an old lady, too: she’s 51.)  The Navy’s already had to cut Stennis’s home-rotation time short, and send her back out a couple months early.  She was westbound past the back yard last month, headed for the Arabian Gulf.  Wasn’t expected to go out until January, but if you want a show of force in the Gulf you really need three, so there wasn’t a hell of a lot of choice.  (We had 31 for most of Vietnam, 26 on active duty when it ended in 1973.)
    We’re also at kind of a low ebb in them funny-lookin’ ships that go underwater, too.  The Navy actually had plans for a retrograde step, they wanted to try building a few non-nuclear (diesel) boats that you can actually shut off – or maybe “up” – when concealment’s important, which you cannot do with the nuclear boats – but there’s no dough for that.  There are as many pigs tied up over in Bremerton awaiting disposal at the nuclear shipyard than there are based on the west coast on active service.
    But Obama has watched a few naval episodes on the Military Channel, and he owns the complete DVD collection of “Victory at Sea,” so, no question: he’s the authority.

  • merighen

    It is frustrating to live in a sound-byte world; that forces one to play the equivalent of connect-the-dots to try to make sense out of it all.  Obama-bytes are particularly difficult to dot-connect because they don’t make a coherent whole in the context of the history of his administration, what little he has specifically revealed as his plans for a second term, or big facts about the world in which we live.

    Some Obama dots that don’t connect for me:

    – use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan to rebuild America (there aren’t any of significance since OCO funds were extra-budgetary)

    – there won’t be a sequester affecting military spending because he won’t let it happen as President in his second term (don’t get the if/so/how on that one)

    – the military is no longer about bayonets and horses.  (Gee, how brilliant is that observation, and what does it have to do with the size of the Naval fleet?)

    Some Romney dots that do connect for me:

    – US Economic growth will improve with better trade policy. (That seems like a rational statement.)

    – Monitoring trade behavior by trade treaty signators is appropriate and not a hostile act of war. (Don’t we all have to deal with people/entities we don’t necessarily like, but can and do set appropriate boundaries?)

    – The declining ship numbers in our Navy should be of concern.  (90% of goods from international trade travel by sea; 70% of the earth is covered by sea.)

    Yeah, I’m a little partisan, but refuse to throw common sense out of the window.  How else can one connect the dots?

  • Caped Crusader

    “FIX BAYONETS!!!”. The two most dreaded words any soldier wants to hear.

  • Ron19

    I haven’t watched the debate yet, but the 1917-to-1916 transformation makes it seem like this was one of Obama’s pre-scripted talking points.  Reminds me of his three-times accusation of Romneys $5 trillion debt, in the first debate, in spite of Romneys immediate denials.  O didn’t discuss the denials, he just repeated the accusation each time.  Biden came across the same way in his debate performance’/act.

    We’ve seen how poorly Obama does without a teleprompter.  Yet, when he makes an “off-the-cuff” remark he sometimes does as well as if he had TOTUS with him, on questions/whatever he would be expected to remark about.  At the Al Smith dinner, his eyes would start by looking down at the lectern to start his next joke, then swivel back and forth in his teleprompter style.

    Obama/Biden didn’t debate or discuss, they just picked out segue points. 

  • b.

    Romney was definitely prepared for Obama as the angry adolescent.  

    Romney’s five sons prepared him for this debate.

    When Obama said, You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets… I was fascinated to look through the relevant Tumblr and find that people were creating images as though horses and bayonets had come out of Romney’s mouth.  

    How does Obama do that? Horses and bayonets from a guy whose DNC put up pictures of Russian warships and Turkish jets at the convention, because they didn’t know or didn’t care?

  • 11B40

    Greetings: It was back during my military daze when I had my first attack of bayonetophobia. When our Drill Sergeants would force march us draftees out to the bayonet training area, have us affix a not very long knifey looking thingy to the business end of a perfectly good shooting iron, and then run us full-speed at a bunch of used tires to stick the pointy end of the aforementioned underdeveloped knifey thingy into all the while shouting at the top of our already overworked lungs “the purpose of the bayonet is to kill”, I couldn’t help but think that these almost adult overseers of ours were out of their ever loving one-track minds. So, being a fairly autonomous Private from the Bronx of the day, I decided to offer the nearest individual whose sleeves had more stripes that mine ever would, my take on our current endeavor. So, I says, “Hey Sargey baby, how’s about we change our explication to something along the lines of, “The purpose of the bayonet is to remind all of us to bring plenty of ammo.” ? “Wouldn’t that be less labor intensive and saving all that carbon dioxide that we would be exhaling would probably give us a headstart on that global warming problem that will be showing up in about 30 years ?” Well, it turns out that the aforementioned Sargey baby was uninterested in either the global environment or why own personal mental health. Thus, my bayonetophobia took hold of every fiber of my being (And upon my return to civilian life, it morphed into an even more crippling kitchenophbia, but that’s a bit off-topic if you know what I mean). Things progressed steadily downhill from there, especially when I started my all-expense-paid vacation (they told me) tour of sunny Southeast Asia where there were, in lieu of cabana boys, an awful lot of misguided miscreants with, instead of drink trays, these gunny looking thingies with perpetually attached bayonety thingies that still haunt me to this day (and especially when I’m wanted in the kitchen). It was just so much longer than ours, that, if it wasn’t for my already established phobia, it would certainly have given me a severe case of bayonet-envy. It was way long, with a triangular shaft and instead of ending in a pointy point, it ended in a tip like a regular screwdriver. (Those little devils were multitasking when Bill Gates was still a gleam in his father’s eye.) So, things were looking kind of grim for my mother’s favorite and only son. But then, one day not long after, a man came into my life to lead me through and out of the darkness. He was long and tall, much like my self, and always spoke the truth, not so much like myself. All his sleeves were be-striped. His first name was Platoon and his last name was Sergeant and thus he spaketh unto me, “The basic combat load is 22 magazines; we hump 29.”

  • jj

    Okay, I’ve now been bludgeoned into listening to it, and I have a somewhat different take, that actually is very much along the same lines as my observation after the first one.  My current take is: if Romney doesn’t win this thing, then he lost it last night.  If he loses, last night’s why.
    I don’t know what the hell he thought he was doing – being “presidential” (that magic phrase) according to my wife – but you cannot allow lie after lie after lie to stand unchallenged.  You cannot assume, or count on the “fact,” that the American people will spot the lie.  Anybody beyond the age of thirty ought to know full well that the American people have a tough time locating their own asses with both hands.  You cannot depend on them to be even minimally informed – which is all it would have taken to spot most of Obama’s lies; but the airwaves today seem awfully full of those who think Obama redeemed himself, and won last night.  When presented with a lie, you have to react the same way you would when presented with a cockroach: you have to step on it, fast and hard.
    Once again, same as the first time, Romney didn’t do that.  Presented with numerous opportunities to put Obama away, firmly atop the ash-heap of history, Romney didn’t do it.  Again.  Obama planted his d**k on the table at least ten times last night, and instead of cutting it off for him the knife stayed in Romney’s pocket every time.  Does Romney even own a knife?  I’m beginning to wonder.  Obama should have been sealed into a bottle last night, and sent out with the Japanese Current just on Benghazi alone – but Romney didn’t do it.  Why the hell did Romney not do it?  Damned if I know.
    When you have the opportunity to finish it – whatever “it” may be: an athletic contest; a discussion; an argument; a project; a war – whatever: then you goddam finish it!  If you do not put your opponent away when presented the chance to do so, but you let him hang around, wounded but still breathing – you will come to regret it every single time.  Again, particularly on Benghazi, Romney had the chance last night and didn’t take it.
    I really hope the silly son of a bitch wins, for all our sakes.  But if he doesn’t, he lost it last night.

  • Ron19

    JJ 14:

    If you want to watch a bully in action, there’s Biden in the VP debate. 

  • Caped Crusader

    After last night we can call Romney, THE FOX; he knows how to lose the battle, but win the war.

  • Ron19

    Some comments on the five debates that were telecast last night:

  • Danny Lemieux

    I have mixed feeling about the debate, as it went directly against my own instinct to go for the throat in such situations. But then, I am not (and should not be) a politician. Romney was going after the independents. In that, he may have succeeded but only November 6th will tell.

    However, couldn’t he have dropped some back-handed b****-slaps along the line of, “I can assure you that nobody in my administration will leak the identities of undercover agents and Navy Seals without suffering the most serious consequences” just to remind voters of what Obama has been doing? Or simply saying, “As President of the United States, I will bow to no other country or its leaders”?

    I would have to think that he would have hit gold with such statements without even having to mention Obama by name.

  • Wolf Howling

    1.  Just a word on bayonets.  All soldiers in the Army and Marines are trained in the use of the bayonet.  All infantry line troops are issued bayonets.  The current model M9 is a masterpiece of work – at a foot long, it is a razor sharp short sword.

    Bayonet charges have been critical events in modern warfare.  Gettysburg, and thus the Civil War, turned on a bayonet charge down little Round Top.  In the Korean War, the defense of Chip Yong Ni likewise saw a famous bayonet charge, that one by the outnumbered French Foreign Legionnaires.  That same war saw a platoon of U.S. Infantry take out machine gun positions with a bayonet charge on a piece of terrain that became known as “Bayonet Hill.”  In both Iraq and Afghanistan, British Army units have executed bayonet charges to overcome resistance, most famously in the 2004 “Battle of Danny Boy” at Al Amara, Iraq.  

    Beyond the bayonet charge by entire units, The bayonet has been used in all wars, through today, as the last tool of defense in close combat.  More than a few al Qaeda and Taliban have been ushered off to meet Allah at the sharp end of a U.S. bayonet.

    Bottom line – no line soldier will ever show disrespect to the bayonet.

    2.  It was horrendous that Romney did not have a response to Obama’s incredibly condescending diatribe on the impact of his planned cuts in our military.  You can’t cut a third of our CURRENT force capability and not be facing a dramatic degradation of our capabilities.  Romney did note that Obama has unilaterally decided that our military no longer needs to plan for a two war scenario – not because the world is any safer, but because it allowed for much deeper cuts to our military, and that was before sequestration.   .  

  • Mike Devx

    jj (#14)

    I mostly listened to the debate while at work, and I was horrified because I thought Obama was just CRUSHING Romney.  Then when I got home, I made myself watch it – on split screen, too, and I came away the second time with a completely different take.

    Try watching it – if necessary just the first half hour.  Heck, even the first fifteen minutes.  And see what you think then.

    I still recall Obama’s repeated lies concerning Israel in this debate.  I think about all those damned trips of his overseas, and the apologizing and blaming of America.  And I note that in four years, Obama has not visited Israel ONCE.  Not once.  He was in that neighborhood plenty of times.  And last night, all of those damned lies.  It is hard not to vomit.

    I *know* it had to gall Obama all the way down to his mitochondria to have to extol Israel in the manner he did, in a truly desperate attempt to hang on to Jewish votes.  And maybe someday we’ll actually get to see that infamous Khalid videotape.

    Eighty percent of the words out of the President’s mouth lat night built up the biggest crap sandwich I’ve ever heard.  He plays a great game of Pretend.  Right now I believe that Mitt Romney is going to win.  It will be such a relief to have this deceitful trickster out of the White House.  I don’t know that any one man is going to be able to help us avoid the very hard times that are coming, and I’m not looking for a savior… but I’ve got to say, being freed from the Daily Obama will be such a relief.

    For those few – if they exist – who visit here, read my words and see only racism, please remember what I’ve said in the past:  I’d take Col. Allen West, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, and a number of other great black Americans as president in a moment.  Tell me again how that makes me (and those similar to me) racist?

    I despise Obama because of the content of his character, for his extreme slyness that some people confuse with wit, for his bottomless capacity for endless deceit.  I always on the edge of declaring him Worst President Ever – and I was today.  Then I see that Jimmah Carter came out today with yet another horrifying and despicable attack on Israel, and I realize that once again, Obama may be scraping the bottom of the barrel, but there’s another equally vicious monster down there with him.  Thank you, Jimmah.

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  • Ymarsakar

    The only savior I will recognize is when the death comes flying down from the heavens and destroys evil men and women utterly, with no mercy or “bipartisanship” to save them.


  • Ymarsakar

    “Tell me again how that makes me (and those similar to me) racist?”

    Whether they know it or not, the Left means you are racist because you support Republicans. It’s not a matter of logic, but of faith, religion, Utopia, and death cargo cultism.

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