This series of Presidential debates has seen enough twists and turns to rival The Usual Suspects.
First, Mitt Romney took a surprising lead in the polls following a disastrous showing in the first debate from President Barack Obama. Then "Diamond" Joe Biden brought a halt to that momentum by stifling Paul Ryan, allowing Obama to reclaim the lead through a strong, though contested, showing in the last debate.
But now it's time to settle things once and for all. The presidential hopefuls square off for the final time tonight, focusing on foreign policy. Although this is perhaps less appealing than domestic policy for voters, it's also the area in which the president has a much larger impact on policy. In a way, it will be the most important of the three debates thus far.
Will Romney continue to criticize the president on the Benghazi incident? What will each candidate suggest be done with Iran? How will each candidate handle China? Which candidate is actually the character Keyser Soze? (My money's actually on Biden.) And will debate moderator Bob Schieffer actually have the balls to ask Obama a question about drones?
Find out tonight with PolicyMic's live coverage of the debate! Stay informed as Obama and Romney vie for the title of the presidency. Neither is willing to give an inch, yet one of them will lose. Because when it comes to the presidency, there can be only one!
A live stream can be found below.
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It's a pitch from both candidates to voters. Again, nothing new. So let's get real: this debate was poorly moderated, often off-topic, and did a poor job of enunciating the concerns of the electorate, opting to pander to the preconceived narrative of the major parties. Major issues, such as drone strikes, the NDAA, and Guantanamo Bay, went unmentioned. I'll discuss why in my post-debate analysis.
Because that's what the last few minutes seems. Not final statements, because it's just the candidates arguing over how their domestic policies will impact the US' stature with China. Not to say this isn't important, but it's ground that's been covered so far. If you want a recap of this, read a recap of the past two debates. So I'll take the time to point out again that Bob Schieffer is a terrible moderator.
Obama talks about getting tough on China over tires, creating American jobs with tire production. Now back to education, R&D and assaulting Romney's budget. Romney says America needs to project strength to China, in the form of its military and its economy. So, once again, this goes back to domestic issues. Romney talks about making "trade relations with China work for us" and how China "doesn't play by the rules." Says he'll label them a currency manipulator. Ballsy, but perhaps not the best move when you owe them trillions.
When asked if that could start a trade war, Romney denies this. Says America needs to get tough on counterfeiting. Obama comes out and says Romney has plenty of experiece with outsourcing. Zing. Says his economic plan would encourage more outsourcing, leading to jobs in China, not America.
Did Bob Schieffer just say "Obama Bin Laden"? Romney says it's not time to "divorce" a "country with 100 nuclear missles". Good point. Goes back to his "comprehensive strategy" of moving the war away from terror. Says "we just talk about these things". I don't think he picked up the irony of that.
Obama talking about "standing on the side of democracy." Says there will always be elements in these countries that threaten the US, but that they will be weakened. Says Al Qaeda has been weakened due to his policies.
Will America leave if it's told that it is needed longer? Romney guarantees that America will leave by 2014, bar nothing. Says he'll look at what is happening in Pakistan, as it will be instrumental in stabilizing Afghanistan, once it itself has been stabilized. Says benchmarks will be required in order for foreign aid to continue.
Obama now talking his accomplishments re: building Afghan forces and hitting Al Qaeda there. Agrees that America will leave in 2014. Thinks that America should do "nation-building here at home." Talking about helping veterans with PTSD and brain injuries. Nice, but nothing to do with foreign policy. Schieffer does nothing. You're useless Schieffer. Useless.
Obama says "it was worth moving heaven and earth" to get Bin Laden. Now talks about a young girl who last spoke to her father as he called from the twin towers. Powerful.
Romney hits Obama for his "apology tour." Yeah, engaging leaders you disagree with to try and work together to improve their countries is such a weak move! Romney talks about toughing America up, so that it's intimidation will prevent any military action.
Obama: "None of what Governor Romney said is true." Zing. Refutes Romney's accusations. Romney goes back on the attack, accusing Obama of presenting America as weak. Obama counters with an inspirational story about how he saw the devastation of a missle attack, and then pushed for a weapons defense system to prevent that devastation from happening again. Damn.
Romney says he sees America's influence receeding. Says he sees jihadists, a nuclear Iran, etc. Mitt Romney is an apocalypse prophet.
Obama says he'll stand with Israel if it's attacked. Claims he's about to carry out the largest military exercise with Israel in history this week. Says he's crippled Iran with sanctions, and is destroying their economy. Says he won't let Iran obtain nuclear weapons. Romney agrees that a nuclear Iran is the last thing America wants. Claims he called for crippling sanctions 5 years ago. Praises Obama for them, but says they should be tightened, affecting companies and shipping. Says he'd get harsh on Iranian diplomats. Claims military option is "the last resort."
Obama says that harshness is unnecessary - his sanctions are pressure enough. Says "the clock is ticking" for Iran.
Romney advocates an extra $2 trillion in military spending that, as Obama counters, the military doesn't want. (Obama doesn't mention that the CIA wants more drones, of course.) Romney accuses Obama of trying to cut military spending by $1 trillion. Obama disagrees with this interpretation, claims he'll maintain spending. Says "we don't use bayonets and horses" anymore - military has evolved beyond archaic mass production of tanks, planes. Now focused on R&D. Continues to attack Romney's budget.
Education and Small Businesses?
This is a shitty debate. Bob Schieffer won't ask tough questions, won't keep the candidates on topic, and both are taking advantage of this to just rattle of talking points now. Obama's talking about his domestic policies to benefit education. This has nothing to do with the Middle East. Schieffer tries to turn the conversation back to the actual subject of the debates, but then allows Romney to rant about his education accomplishments. Ugh.
The Middle East and, uh, the Economy?
Romney still conflating the domestic economy with foreign issues. Rambling. Obama comes back with "America is strong" and "stronger than when he came into office". Says Romney's concerns about the US' strength abroad and with its allies is unfounded. Goes through a list of accomplishments that have helped its allies. Talks about cutting importing goods through investments in R&D and new energy. Romney talks about creating 12 million new jobs.
Seriously, can Schieffer ask a question about drones now?
Both candidates are promoting "moderate" ledearship on this matter. Not a whole lot to distinguish each other, although Obama has done a better job presenting his positions. Now he name drops Kennedy when talking about Egypt. Very optimistic approach, talks about "rebuilding the economy," encouraging entrepeneurship confrences.
Romney agrees that Mubarak had to go. Moves on to the Middle East in general. Says the US needs to set a strong example, and to do that it needs a strong economy. Ah. Now we get to Mitt's "strength", or at least what he portrays as his strength. Talks about establishing "peace" in the world. Since when is Romney such a hippie?
Obama claims that "ultimately, Syrians have to decide" what happens in their country. Says he's working with the US' allies in the region to resolve the situation peacefully. All of which is to say, he won't go into Syria even though he did the same thing for Lybia, because they have a standing army and a more strategic position. You're welcome Obama.
Romney points out Syria is the only ally Iran ahs in the region, and therefore it would be beneficial for the government to be overthrown. But ultimately, Romney doesn't really say anything different than Obama, although he believes the US should give weapons to the rebels. Yep, giving weapons to enemies of our enemies is a great idea, Mitt. Like when we gave weapons to a bunch of Afghan rebels fighting Russia. That worked out well.
Romney goes on the offensive... well, maybe not. He's citing all of the examples that portray the Middle East as "a region in turmoil." Obama counters by saying Romney claimed Russia, not Al Qaeda, was the US' biggest rival in the world. Says Romney's living in the 80's. "The 1980's called to get their foreign policy back." Zing. Says Romney had wanted more soldiers in Iraq as well. Obama is pounding Romney right now. Accuses Romney of "sending mixed messages" to the troops. Clown insult, Obama. You were going strong before that jingoistic jab.
Romney counters by saying Russia is a geopolitical foe, but Iran is the greatest danger the US faces. He and Obama get into it re: Iraq. Romney doesn't score any points, and Obama takes the opportunity to throw down a list of objectives in the Middle East. Voters love lists. They're like shiny objects for small toddlers.
Well, well, well, Benghazi is the first question. Once again, Romney wins the coin toss and goes first. Tails never fails, after all. He opens by rambling about the Arab Spring, then moves on to Syria and Lybia. "Our hearts and minds go" to the men and women killed in Benghazi. I guess they're zombies now. Romney says that America should engage in a comprehensive strategy to prevent extremism. Huh?
Obama touts his experience of "keeping America safe", and bringing to justice those who kill Americans. Now pushing his accomplishments in Lybia, how America liberated the country without sending a single soldier in, desposed of a ruthless dictator (and former ally). Has created an opportunity to improve the Arab world.
You Forgot Pakistan!
Who's Excited for the Debate?
Warren Ellis is!
Some Brief Thoughts
As I mentioned earlier, I think that although foreign policy is where the President has the most impact in terms of policy in American government, it's also the least appealing topic to voters. Particularly undecided voters, who are most likely more concerned with the domestic economy. As a result, while this debate may illuminate the most important aspects of either candidate, I doubt it will be a terribly significant political event in terms of its impact - or lack thereof - of the election.
That said, I suspect Obama will take this debate as a result of his actual experience in the subject, killing Bin Laden, and ending the war in Iraq. His resume has serious holes - his drone campaign is as ethically dubious as anything Bush engaged in during his Presidency - but none that Romney can truly exploit, since he'll engage in the same practices.
Lack of Updates
Sorry. I've been busy cooking an epic meatsauce. Also, it's the last debate. I'm half-assing it. Deal.
... is evidently quite disparate from Politics 101. In a recent survey of six prominent liberal and conservative economists, NPR came up with six policies all managed to agree on. Naturally, none of them exist on any major platforms. It's easy to see why. Outside of legalizing weed, almost none of these would possess any major traction with the majority of the electorate. In fact, they'd probably kill their chances pretty quickly. Just ask Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.