Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tom Swift Full Throttle

(The 3rd Debate) From the get go, Romney lost a golden opportunity to hammer Obama on the administration's weak and constantly fluid analysis of the events in Benghazi. Romney would have been better served if Obama had commented first, and undoubtedly would have devolved into all sorts of characteristic double speak on an issue that clearly was mishandled, culminating in Hillary's entertaining and predictable public hari-kari and Obama's ham handedly and falsely noble "she works for me" comment.  I would have loved to have been sharing a beer with Bill  when he let that one fly.

Obama was his, by now familiar, cock-sure self with the turf being one in which the similarities outweighed the differences, that of foreign policy.  His attitude seemed to be a condescending version of "you may have seen baseball on TV but 
I have actually been to Fenway Park".  Yet, having sat with the joint chiefs, it would appear that Obama has never actually played ball in that park either. In response to Obama's quip that Romney has never actually experienced the implementation of foreign policy, Romney ideally should have responded, "like you have never actually worked in the private sector?", but again he chose dignity over trading barbs with a desperate and apparently delusional politician. The President continuously described policies of another President that exists perhaps in the Obama mind, but has failed to materialize in Washington. The statement that we should not be "nation building" in foreign countries in favor of nation building "at home" seems to suggest isolationism as foreign policy and reveal a  fundamental flaw with his assertion that we are somehow safer today and will be safer by decreasing our presence in foreign affairs. His banging the drum for the teacher's union by suggesting that Romney has it all wrong and more expenditure on education will surely lead to smarter students flies in the face of statistics that rank US students 17th in the world, with no correlation between expenditure,class size and achievement. All this rhetoric while sitting next to a Massachusetts Governor who presided over the top ranked school system in the country and had the nerve to suggest that quality of teachers was more important than quantity. And Obama continued to reference Romney's economic plan as not "adding up", yet he failed to explain why his economic plan is failing to produce jobs and, while on the subject of adding up, has accrued 16 trillion dollars of debt. Perhaps the Obama economic team should spend less time on Romney's website and more time developing their own effective strategy. A suddenly glorious record of achievement was presented with an America safer than ever before and with alliances never before seen in our history. He may continue to repeat the macho lines of "Iran will never possess a nuclear weapon s long as I am President" or the farcical "We will stand with Israel", hysterical in the context of his well documented and publicly expressed disdain for Netanyahu.  But the facts remain that we are another day closer to a nuclear Iran and Israel lives under the threat of annihilation with Egypt run by the Muslim brotherhood, Syria lobbing explosives into Turkey and Lebanon, an entire mid-east in turmoil whilst our President honors his alliances by choosing a Vegas fundraiser over a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister. Perhaps the debate format should be altered with the opportunity to rebut with "Mr.President, we have on line two, Bebe Netanyahu to add his comments". Now that would be entertaining.

And another thing. What is with the flip-flopping on maintaining a military presence in Iraq?  First Obama supported it, then when faced with resistance, promptly put his tail between his legs and slinked out of the country without so much as a parade. What a disservice to those who served there. We did it in Germany, we did it in Korea, we did it in Japan.  We maintained a military presence in regions of conflict after hostilities had ceased as a deterrent to further hostilities.  So after we busted our military humps in Iran, we are just going to leave and allow the Arab Spring to do its thing?  Sure, that has been enormously successful. And Obama's comment criticizing Romney over naming Russia as geo-political threat:  Just who does Obama think gives Syria the backbone and makes dealing with Iran and North Korea a diplomatic nightmare?  Has he actually been to the United Nations recently? Oh yeah, it was the video.  But it's all okay because he will have flexibilty after the election. Ask Putin.

The most annoyingly snarky moment, one that the liberal pundits call a defining moment, came when Obama, in full condescension, criticized Romney's comments on naval strength in numbers of vessels by lecturing him on the advances in military hardware such as "aircraft carriers that we land planes on" and "ships that go underwater called submarines".  Implying Romney was unfamiliar with contemporary military hardware, he went on to remark how we no longer have "horses and bayonets" like we did in 1916. Snarky is not well-informed, Mr. President. To suggest that advances in military hardware make up for lesser amounts of that hardware shows not only a poor understanding of military history (ask the Russians, in WWII they seemed to have a grasp on numbers over technology as did the more recenet VietCong), but a fundamental lack of common sense.  Excuse me, but I can have the most sophisticated warship on the planet, but it still can't be in two places at once. Regardless of whether your vessel is powered by steam or a nuclear reactor, it still relies on propellers and hulls to get from point A to point B just like they did in 1916.  Although technology has improved, speed improvement over the same time period has not been statistically significant. Thus, a vessel providing presence in the China Sea is just not going to get to a crisis in the Persian Gulf much faster than it did in 1945. Furthermore, the implication that sophisticated warships cruise into battle solo is preposterous.  An aircraft carrier remains vulnerable and still travels in a battle group consisting of specialized vessels.  Perhaps Mr. Obama should spend more time playing Battleship where your toy fleet is arranged in, yes, a battle group. And as the Brits will tell you, a significant development over that same time period is the anti-ship missile, a development that can and will reduce your fleet size in an instant. Please reference the Falkland Islands.

So once again, will the American voters choose style over substance?  Will condescension and snarky one-liners sway the voter in favor of the incumbent who, as of yet, has not yet told us how he intends to alter the course of his failed policies?  What, exactly is Obama proposing to do in the next four years that is fundamentally different than the last? Romney can continue to repeat himself over and over again, but if he is lecturing on business economics to an electorate more concerned with charisma, swagger and entitlements, then all is lost. Romney was sluggish and at times, appeared to be tiring of repeating himself in the face of an onslaught of disinformation and unprofessionalism on the part of his opponent.  But the fact remains that a prosperous America is a strong America. An America that can project its will across the globe.  Now is not the time to retreat into isolationism, nor is it the time to pull the global default lever and succumb to socialism as a cure for our ailments.  It is a time for leadership, and most importantly,new leadership. Let's hope America comes to this realization by November 6.

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