Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Post-Debate Thoughts

With last night's final face-off between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the trilogy was finally concluded, and the wild and wacky debate season of 2012, which started with a chorus line of potential prezzes vying for the job before getting whittled down to the final two, took its place in the history books. As with last week's rematch, this one was often contentious and -- if the flop sweat on Mitt Romney's brow late in the game was anything to go by -- heated, with moderator Bob Schieffer seeming at times like he took a coffee break while the two combatants tossed verbal volleys at one another.

While the subject matter for this go-round was ostensibly meant to be foreign policy, the two candidates spent at least as much time attacking each other on the domestic front as they did discussing international affairs. Of course, I can't say I really blame them there, since the alternative seemed to be to essentially agree with each other (or, more accurately, for Mitt Romney to criticize the Obama doctrine with much verve and vigor, then paraphrase and offering it back up).

The most pointed -- and possibly memorable -- exchange of the night occurred when Romney criticized the President for having shrunk the size of the Navy, based on the number of boats we had in 1916 versus now. This led to one of those moments that instantly joined the Presidential Debate Hall of Fame alongside "There you go again" and "I feel your pain." As soon as Obama said it, I predicted "horses and bayonets" as the next big viral thing, and wouldn't you know, by debate's end, it was the third biggest trend on Twitter. Just call me Kreskin! Observe:

To be honest, that's kind of how the night went. Every time Romney talked a big game (with proclamations like "We can't kill our way out of this" and "We want a peaceful planet" sounding remarkably disingenuous when you're being guided by Bush-era neo-cons), Obama swatted him back by using his incumbency, and the experience that comes with three years in the big chair, to paint his opponent as dangerously inexperienced. Ah, how the tables are turned from four years ago, when the "executive experience" canard was one of the most oft-deployed attack lines against the future prez.

Ultimately, foreign policy remains a non-issue for many Americans. A shame, but the truth. I could practically feel viewers' eyes glazing over as each pol got into the weeds about our relations with this country and that. Thus, while various insta-polls pegged Obama the winner by a wide margin, I doubt this last debate will do much to reset the math -- not like the first one did for Romney, anyway. Those ever-elusive undecideds are an ever-shrinking pool (and honestly, if you're still undecided even after all this...ugh), so from here to the finish line, it's a race for the base. Game on!

(For my live commentary as the debate was going on, read my Twitter feed.)

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