Romney's Obama Mask Doesn't Fit

Mitt Romney had to thread a very small needle during Monday's foreign policy debate. He had to hew closely to President Obama's foreign policy while somehow seeming stronger than Obama. He had to seem ready to attack our enemies in order to keep his fellow Republicans interested, while still seeming like enough of a pacifist to calm Americans who don't want to get involved in another endless war. And he had to somehow transform his own total lack of foreign-policy experience—his entire ticket's lack of foreign-policy experience, in fact; this is the most inexperienced pair of Republican candidates in modern history—into an asset.

He failed on every single count.

Romney looked inexperienced, sweaty, discombobulated, and even scared all night long. At times, he sounded like a pacifist. At other times, he presented himself as a George W. Bush–like warrior, skipping from conflict to conflict with the phony swagger that only money and a hearty sense of inflated self-importance can buy. Neither act was convincing.

This final debate was, in many ways, the reverse of the first debate. Obama was calm, in command, and strong. Romney was absent and ill-prepared. There were shades of the vice presidential debate, too: Obama, like Joe Biden, resorted to outright mockery of his opponent's lack of preparation. His sarcastic riff on Romney's lack of understanding about the modern military ("we have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them") was brutal, but it drove the point home: Obama knows what he's talking about when it comes to military matters. And he intellectually bested Romney again and again, often with touching, personal stories of the sort that Bill Clinton used to share all the time.

And best of all, Romney's "safe" strategy reminded Republicans that he isn't a champion of their precious, pure conservative thought. Romney will say anything to be president, and if that involves becoming an Obama clone to try to strip moderate votes, he'll happily do that. I suspect that some of that vaunted Republican enthusiasm for Romney will drain, now that their candidate revealed himself so blatantly as a changeling. Republicans could now be entering a smaller-scale version of the tailspin that Democrats experienced after the first debate. With two weeks to go, that could make a huge difference on Election Day.

Don't expect the polls to tip one way or the other in huge numbers—not at this late date. But Monday was a palpable win, an even clearer win than the second presidential debate. That's not nothing. This is probably the best possible ending to the debate cycle that the Obama team could have hoped for. The rest is up to them, and all of us. recommended


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Paul, you are an excellent literary critic. You should stick to that. It's really, really sad to see you swooning over a war criminal who tortures whistleblowers, slaughters civilians in Pakistan, executes people without a trial, and has rolled back civil liberties to a medieval standard.
Posted by monorail on October 24, 2012 at 5:39 PM · Report this
@1, but Romney would do more of that so, therefore, Obama is an inspiration.
Posted by LJM on October 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM · Report this
I have many issues with the things that "got through" in Obama's administration, detention and drone attacks for example. However I cannot imagine how anyone cannot see how much worse it would be if Romney wins. I try to picture the world today if Gore had won (or hadn't ceded) the election in 2000. For better or worse I can at least sleep at night with Obama in office. Here and now the move in the right direction is to move away from the Romney option. After that, we can keep moving forward.
Posted by reino on October 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
dirac 4
@1 Well even before Constant called killing OBL a masterstroke (clearly isn't if they're this close) , he established himself a fanboy to the end. It doesn't matter what the God Emperor does or that it resembles the behavior--but demonstrably worse--of big bad republicans. What matters is that he's our war criminal.
Posted by dirac on October 25, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Were we watching the same debate? Romney provided examples of ways our country is weaker due to O's policy s from his denigrating the US (basically telling the world "I'm so sorry for how the US has behaved") to Obama denigrating Israel (whom I KNOW O doesn't have any respect for) to reminding us of how we are the force of good in the worked (we've liberated countries from dictators's: Hitler, Yamamoto, establishing and assuring a free South Korea thru sacrifice since 1953, Kosovo, Saddam and yes Qaddafi). To quote someone else: O's condescending, arrogant and narcissistic performance that night leads to one conclusion: Their was one person on the stage that night who was presidential and one who was president. PS: Thanks for the "voter's guide". Helps me know to vote for and against.
Posted by SEATTLE TJ on October 25, 2012 at 7:45 PM · Report this
You would've heard a better round 'o rhetoric listening to the Green Party's Jill Stien debate the "Libertarian"/Selfish Prick Party's Gary Johnson (BOTH of who are pro-cannabis--unlike Shrubama!) . .Why Mormonazi's and Shrubama's foreign/imperialistic impolicies are SOOO similar?Go to this Website to find out why!----->
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Report this

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