Who won the presidential debate: Obama, Without a Doubt. Also, Bayonets

10:42: I’m calling that a solid win for Obama: delivered the clearer policies and wittier zingers. Romney, by contrast, struggled all night to explain what he would do differently than the POTUS, and ended the evening with some seriously off-putting rhetoric about America being the hope of the earth. That retching noise you hear is the rest of the planet collectively throwing up.    

Ultimately, though, it’s hard to imagine that this thing changed any minds. All in all, you’d have to call the debates something of a disaster for Obama. Even though he won the second two pretty conclusively, he lost the first by such a wide margin that even subsequent victories couldn’t reclaim lost ground.  Looks like we’re headed to a photo finish, implausible as that might’ve seemed even a month ago.

10:32 pm. "America is the hope of the earth," or something. "I want to carry the torch of freedom," or something. "I want to bring peace to the birds and the fishes," by buying more giant weapons. A fittingly incoherent close from Mittens.


10:31 pm. Giants dominating Game 7 of the NLCS. Just thought I'd take a break from the "12 million new jobs" drivel to check some baseball scores.

10:30 pm. Nailed it, Barack. Even if I've heard it a few trillion times before, sounded great, as always.

10:28 pm. Romney loves teachers! Loves 'em. Couldn't love 'em more! Scheiffer lands the final blow. 

10:27 pm. Why is giving more people food stamps automatically a terrible thing? If it means they're eating instead of starving, that sounds pretty good to me. Now Romney's inventing fictitious weeping people.

10:25 pm. Solyndra reference! Are we still doing that whole drinking game thing? Obama's a little hung up on the car stuff... move on, pal.

10:23 pm. All the Detroiters I know hate you, Mittens. To be fair, you do think this:


10:22 pm. "Currencies are at their most advantageous point since 1993." Well, they finally chose a topic that I could literally not know less about.

10:19 pm. "They're in our bedrooms... they're sleeping with our wives... they're rooting around in our dumpsters... what won't those Chinese get their hands on?"

10:15 pm. Greatest future threat to this country? Food security, duh. But nope, Obama's worried about the flood of cheap tires.

10:13 pm. No China! We haven't talked about the Middle East enough!!!

10:11 pm. Romney in favor of "any and all means" to take out enemies. Mostly he plans to call upon these guys:


10:08 pm. Obama talking about employing returned vets!!! Let's see if he works in a plug for ACP. On the very off-chance that you're a veteran and you're reading this liveblog, check out American Corporate Partners.

10:07 pm. Ughhh somebody say something unexpected... gimme something to work with here.

10:04 pm. Romney dodging question... yes, we'd all like to be out by 2014, but what if Afghans are not ready? Answer the question, dammit.

10:02 pm. Obama with only his first mention of killing Bin Laden. Across the country, Republicans playing drinking games are not getting drunk off for their liking.

10:01 pm. Obama: "I'm glad you're endorsing our policies." Well-played, sir.


9:59 pm. Romney says our influencing is receding around the world. I say, good for the world.

9:58 pm. Here we go... this is a serious question. Annnnnd Romney ducks it, claiming that he and Bibi are BFF and have no secrets from each other.

9:56 pm. Obama went on Birthright! Did he ride in the party bus?

9:54 pm. Centrifuges? Romney getting all scientific and shit. Meanwhile, Obama debunking the apology tour myth... although maybe somebody should have apologized for 2000-2008...

9:51 pm. Obama hinting darkly at an invasion if sanctions, etc. fail. Yikes. Well, if we do invade, at least Obama knows to launch the planes from an aircraft carrier.


9:49 pm. Can't wait for Romney to ride into Iran on horseback and bayonet the shit out of Ahmedenijad.

9:48 pm. Romney leading up to the literal bombshell...

9:48 pm. When you assume you'll be president, Mittens, you make an ass out of you.

9:46 pm. Iran. Can't wait to hear Obamney repeat their party lines on this issue for the trillionth time.

9:44 pm. Still reeling from Barack's chain of one-liners. Romney's army:


9:43 pm. Fewer horses and bayonets! Aircraft carriers! Priceless.

9:42 pm. Only 285 ships?! Whatever shall our Navy do?

9:39 pm. Romney wants to cut LITERALLY EVERYTHING and give all the money to the military.


Obama acknowledges the crazy growth in military spending. More spending than the next ten nations combined? that's exceptionalism, baby.

9:37 pm. Scheiffer with a futile attempt to get debate back on FP track, but Mitt will not be dissuaded from blathering on about all the Massachusetts achievements that he had nothing to do with.

9:35 pm. Love how both these guys manage to somehow bring it around to their domestic policy lines even during the foreign policy debate. Back on track, guys.

9:34 pm. Twelve million jobs, eh?  What's the plan again, Mittens?


9:31 pm. Obama: America is the one indispensable nation?! Blech. You don’t believe that, Barry.

9:30 pm. Romney won’t take a dime from the military… it’s the only public program not on the table for budget cuts. What a joke.

9:28 pm. Does anybody truly believe that America will have more allies if Romney is president? Then again, according to Mittens, we only have 42 right now, so there's nowhere to go but up.

9:26 pm. Romney struggling to differentiate himself from Obama’s policy toward Egypt. Let me tell you a secret: hen he can’t plausibly bomb somebody, he doesn’t have too many ideas.

9:22 pm. So far both there hasn’t been a whole lot separating the stated policies of Obama and Romney. As Barack pointed out, perhaps that’s because what he’s doing is working… or maybe it’s because there’s not a whole lot America can do.

9:21 pm. Mission Creep, Mission Muddle: a meme is born?

Mission Creep (n): any military action organized by Dick Cheney.


9:17 pm. Candidates are falling over each other to show their support for Israel. Just waiting for one of them to start blowing kisses to Bibi through the camera.

9:14 pm. Obama gives a gratuitous shout-out to Israel. Now talking about nation-building at home, not really making much sense. Romney won that little bout of sparring, I fear.

9:11 pm. Obama calls out Romney on his bizarre fear of Russia, then takes a crack at his lack of FP experience, then nails Mittens on his schizophrenia. Hit 'em, baby.

9:08 pm. Obama talking about making friends. Romney's strategy is straight-forward: go after the bad guys. Clearly he's been taking cues from his buddy Dirty Harry.


Okay, now he's paying lip service to education for women. Put 'em all in binders! Binders, I tell ya.

9:05 pm. Romney preempts Obama's planned mention of Osama BL.


9:04 pm. Romney claims he's gonna be funny not on purpose. I think we can all agree about that.

9:03 pm. Obama's winning!

9:00 pm. NYT analysts claiming that Obama needs to perform better than Mittney; that a draw equals a win for Mittens. Sounds reasonable to me: Mittens is so disastrously frightening on foreign policy that Obama should be all rights blow him out of the water.

8:58 pm. Here. We. Go.


The Polka in Boca: We are all WITNESSES.

8:51 pm. I feel strongly that this debate needs some kind of catchy title along the lines of Thrilla in Manila? How does everybody feel about "The Polka in Boca?"  I'm gonna make it happen.


8:42 pm. Prediction: Obama will throw in token reference to climate in final minutes of the last topic, the "world of tomorrow" thing, to appease tree-huggers. No substantive policy ideas, just throwing us a bone, which we will pounce on and hungrily divest of its marrow.

That metaphor got weird. Get ready for a lot more stream-of-consciousness as this thing heats up.

8:37 pm. Chris Miles told me I had to use lots of GIFs, so here is a GIF that communicates how I feel about the fact that none of the candidates have said a word about climate this whole bleeping time:


The first GIF of my life, and I couldn't be prouder.

8:31 pm. Okay, I promised myself I wouldn’t spend the entire night bitching about climate change’s absence from the debates, but just a quick bitch: per 350.org, if neither candidate mentions climate change, this will be the first time SINCE 1988 that global warming went undiscussed in the presidential debates.  It’s the defining foreign policy of our time, and instead we’re about to get 30 minutes on how to most effectively kill brown-skinned people in the Middle East. Can’t wait.


8:22 pm. Most excited about the first question. Romney, no doubt, will come out guns blazing with talk of American exceptionalism; clearly Mittens is a big believer in the doctrine that says the U.S. should never take orders from nobody, least of all the U.N. Obama, on the other hand, likes to infuriate conservatives by doing statesman-like things such as this:


Here is a list of international treaties, cribbed from Gus Speth’s America the Possible, that America has not signed to demonstrate just how exceptional it is:

--The Convention of the Rights of the Child

--The Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

--The Land Mine Convention

--The Criminal Court Convention

--The Biodiversity Convention

--The Law of the Sea

--The Kyoto Protocol

America is one of only a few rogue states not to sign most of those treaties. If being an exceptional nation means not signing the Convention of the Rights of the Child, well, I’m just fine with being unexceptional.

8:06 pm. Live-blog: activate. I dumped a cup of water on my laptop while flying home from Texas yesterday, so I’ll be writing from a borrowed Panasonic Toughbook – heavier than a cinderblock, and about as easy to type on. I am unfazed, and there is a cabbage-and-cheese omelet in my belly. Conditions are optimal. Let’s do this. 


On Monday night at 9 pm, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt "Mittens" Romney will be provided with an array of medieval weaponry, locked in a 10x10 steel cage, and forced to fight to the death for our viewing pleasure.


That’s right, friends: time for another debate, this one at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. And this one is special –– it’s the debate in which Americans get to pretend, for 90 crazy minutes, that they actually care about something other than their own tax rates. You got it: foreign policy time!

Except, ugh: the topics. There are gonna be six topics at this thing, and fully two-thirds –– two-thirds! – are about the Middle-freakin'-East.

OK, our boondoggle in Afghanistan clearly deserves to be discussed, and if the veep debate is any indication, we just might get a nuanced analysis of military strategy. And there’s no getting around Iran/Israel (especially in Boca Raton, aka Jerusalem South), even though neither candidate has anything remotely new to say on the subject.  

But how, how, HOW could the list include not one, but two terrorism topics?! Look, I get that our consulate was recently assaulted –– and yes, it was an act of terrorism –– and I’m sure that the CIA is constantly thwarting villainous plots about which we commoners remain blissfully unaware. 

Still: according to my back-of-the envelope calculations, more Americans will die in car accidents in the next twelve hours than have died of terrorism since 9/11. On the list of global threats, terrorism ranks many slots below food security, pandemics, and climate change, although to be fair, it’s probably still above falling space junk.

So, to sum up: the foreign policy debate will contain zero mention of the following continents: Europe, South America, and Africa, except perhaps for Libya references. No Russia. No India. No Brazil. Nothing has changed since, like, 2004: the only foreign policies we care about are the ones that directly pertain to killing and being killed by angry people in the Middle East. We get a teaspoon of China, and six cups of #muslimrage.

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.

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Ben Goldfarb

Ben Goldfarb is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Forestry, where he received a Masters of Environmental Management and served as editor of Sage Magazine. Ben's writing on environmental issues has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, OnEarth Magazine, and Green Futures Magazine.

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