Obama-Romney Foreign Policy Debate Reaction

President Obama was the pretty clear winner on substance. But Romney may well have done enough.

I had overnight guests, so didn’t get a chance to do my standard instant reaction post on the debate, which I live-tweeted for RealClearWorld.

In terms of substance, President Obama was the pretty clear winner. While Mitt Romney was well prepared and avoided any significant gaffes, Obama had the confidence and command of the topic of a man who had been sitting in the big chair for four years. Furthermore, on most topics, Romney failed to differentiate himself from the president, essentially saying he would have done what Obama did–just with more toughness, backbone, and speed.

In terms of style, it was less clear. Obama had several zingers ready, some of which (like the “we used to have more horses and bayonets” line) were effective and some of which (like “the 80’s called an wants its foreign policy back”) were pretty lame. Additionally, Romney sounded confident and relaxed while Obama may have gone too far in his condescension and interruptions. (I should note that I listened to the debate and followed it on Twitter, so can’t assess the visuals aside from a handful of clips I saw this morning, which seemed like a draw.)

In terms of impact on the race, I suspect it will be modest to non-existent. I can’t imagine that anyone who was committed to either candidate would have changed their minds based on last night. Those leaning toward Romney but undecided before last night may well have come away thinking he could indeed be trusted with the nuclear codes. Likewise, those leaning toward Obama were likely reassured that their guy was up to the job. Those of us who would prefer an alternative foreign policy that committed us to fewer wars were, as usual, disappointed.

The real question, then, is whether any truly undecided voter (that is, someone who will actually vote but hasn’t made up their mind) will decide that they’re better off staying the course since Romney offers no real change or whether they’ll figure that, since Romney seems reasonable enough they might as well try someone new.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Joyner –

    With all due respect, why can’t you, even once, acknowledge that Romney has, basically, repudiated, over the last three weeks, virtually, EVERY SINGLE POSITION he has been pushing over the last three years?

    Every.
    Single.
    One.

    Why is that so hard for you to admit?

    How do you vote for such a man?

  2. DC Loser says:

    Romney’s foreign policy positions last night was – Whatever Obama’s position is, I’ll do the same, and I’ll do it better. That’s it. Mr. Etch-a-Sketch in full form.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Josh Marshall:

    One of the best points in the debate was when Mitt Romney suggested that President Ahmadinejad of Iran could be indicted for what amounts to pre-cog genocide.

    I would make sure that Ahmadinejad would be indicted for genocide. His words amount to genocide.

    As a Jew I take genocide pretty seriously. But words don’t amount to genocide. And what is Mitt talking about? Our Benjy Sarlin asked about this in the spin room and Mitt’s aides seemed to suggest that this UN/Hague indictment would lead to Ahmadinejad’s arrest and well … problem solved. Call in the Blue Helmets! They’ll solve this one.

    Yeah…. I want that man leading America’s foreign policy.

  4. Anderson says:

    My wife got a hoot out of the 1980’s line when NPR played it today. Maybe JJ wasn’t Obama’s target audience?

  5. MBunge says:

    You want to talk about media bias, that’s what you saw in the analysis of last night’s debate. Last night, Romney essentially abandoned the majority of what he’s said on foreign policy over the last 4 years…and “journalists” didn’t seem to think that was a big deal.

    I’ve noted this before, but someone truly coming from outside the political elites wouldn’t be allowed to do something like that. But because Romney is seen as “one of us” by the establishment, he gets a pass.

    If Romney eaks out a victory and we wind up with an Iranian war, I hope people will remember that.

    Mike

  6. LaMont says:

    For conservative friends that think Romney means what he says – what exactly does Romney mean to say? Which position on any significant subject matter is Romney firm on? For the life of me I DO NOT KNOW! This is the man that want to be the pPOTUS? Are leaders suppose to stand for something? Is that not one very important characteristic of a leader?

  7. J-Dub says:

    Romney’s new foreign policy position: “Whatever he said, but from a white guy”

  8. C. Clavin says:

    The most cynical Presidential campaign ever. Following on the heels of the most cynical politics imaginable being practiced by Republican legislators over the last four years.
    Romney is banking on Americans being too ignorant to know he’s lying…and that his base is too un-principled to care.
    Steve Schmidt said it perfectly…Romney completely changed who he is and what his positions are starting at 9:00 last night…and it was a politically brilliant move.
    Cynicism wins, and drags Romney on it’s coat-tails.

  9. jukeboxgrad says:

    lamont:

    Which position on any significant subject matter is Romney firm on?

    It’s wrong to claim that there are no answers to this question. Here’s one clear answer: the rich aren’t rich enough and the poor aren’t poor enough.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @LaMont:

    Are leaders suppose to stand for something? Is that not one very important characteristic of a leader?

    Courage is soooo over-rated.

  11. J-Dub says:

    Mitt Romney: “Mr. President, It’s not productive when you attack the five different positions I’ve taken on every topic”

  12. Franklin says:

    @Anderson: Different strokes for different folks. I prefer Obama over Romney, but that line seems worn and tired. It may be somewhat accurate, though.

    Anyway, I’ve been saying for a couple weeks now that Romney couldn’t possibly win a foreign policy debate with Obama. Obama is more than hawkish enough, and the public is war-weary. Aside from a reduced-interventionist position which is a non-starter due to the Republican base, where could Romney possibly position his policies to differentiate himself from Obama? He’s chosen his only viable course of action – which is to go to a Bolton-level crazy but try to make it sound reasonable. Cutting his losses, I suppose.

  13. jukeboxgrad says:

    Romney essentially abandoned the majority of what he’s said on foreign policy over the last 4 years…and “journalists” didn’t seem to think that was a big deal.

    #Romnesia is an epidemic. They have it too, and they don’t even realize it.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jukeboxgrad: lamont:

    Which position on any significant subject matter is Romney firm on?

    Also, he wants to be President. Really bad.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    #Romnesia is an epidemic. They have it too, and they don’t even realize it.

    HA!

  16. jukeboxgrad says:

    Also, he wants to be President. Really bad.

    Yes, for sure. I see that as an item on his to-do list, but it’s a sub-category, under this heading: ‘things I need to do to make sure the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.’

    Or maybe it’s a reverse priority, hard to say. But they’re both key items on the list.

  17. cian says:

    I think James has this one right. The FP debate was always going to be a no win for Romney and a not much of a win for Obama. He did too good a job over the past 4 years, thus insuring international concerns would be low on peoples’ priorities.

    Obama can still win, but if he does it will be with a Bush/Gore margin, making the next 4 years tougher than the first. The Republicans did a deft job of crippling the recovery and are betting the politics of blackmail and bulls**t will win out.

  18. cd6 says:

    The nutjob corner of the web where NRO and HotAir and the rest reside have convinced themselves that even though most polls show Obama “won,” IN REALITY Romney “won” by “not losing” which I am having difficulty wrapping my head around.

    And so they go on cheering for a candidate who has the exact same views as Obama as of 9:00 last night, even though Obama = Hitler/Mao/the Devil etc etc

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @cd6:

    And so they go on cheering for a candidate who has the exact same views as Obama as of 9:00 last night, even though Obama = Hitler/Mao/the Devil etc etc

    Do you think Rush’s head will explode?

  20. grumpy realist says:

    Oh the hell with it–if the American populace is dumb enough to elect a Mr. Etch-a-Sketch who will say whatever he needs to in front of whatever audience–it deserves what will happen to it. Declare China a currency manipulator? Fine. Declare war on Iran? Fine. Do both at the same time? Fine. Just don’t come bitching to me later about the afteraffects.

    Fiat justicia, ruat coelum.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @ Grumpy…
    Didn’t you hear him???
    He is no longer going to declare war on Iran.
    Now he is going to have the World Court arrest Ahmadinejad…and that will take care of the entire Iran problem. Oh wait…wouldn’t that put a damper on diplomacy? No…”Because I’m MITT ROMNEY dammit!!!”

  22. J-Dub says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes, we shouldn’t use the UN in Syria but we should use them in Iran to arrest their president. That sounds plausible.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    His words amount to genocide.

    Also, I await Doug’s post on the Republican’s war on Freedom of Speech.

  24. Higgs Boson says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What if the same “world court” decidied to arrest a U.S. president?

    Who actually performs the apprension?

    Where / how is the arrested person detained and arraigned?

    Details, details …

  25. JKB says:

    Romney did what he had to do last night which as show he had a command of the topics and not give Obama an attack vector on him being a warmonger.

    Obama did okay but I think the “zingers” made him look small. I was just listening when he did the horses and bayonet routine and my thought was smart aleck 12-yr old isn’t a good look for the President.

    Turns out, Obama was so wrong on his zing. Just 3 days earlier, a statue honoring Special Forces in Afghanistan was unveiled at Ground Zero, a soldier mounted on on horse. Just a few days ago, a British soldier in Afghanistan fought off certain death with a bayonet. Not to mention, aircraft carriers require lots of support ships and a whole fleet of ships to provide protection for it. And the inside baseball, that a submarine is called a boat, not a ship.

    Not to terrible unless you are the commander in chief and you let your Leftist caricature of the military show when you are trying to look all knowledgeable on the armed forces and their needs.

  26. C. Clavin says:

    “…he had a command of the topics…”

    Yes…he is going to arrest Ahmadinejad and Syria is Iran’s path to the sea and the Navy is smaller than ever.
    Are you stupid…or just do not care what Romney says as long as he wins?

  27. Best I can tell, Obama’s foreign policy has been a massive failure and Romney will be strong, Strong, STRONG as POTUS.

    What more do you need to know?

  28. cian says:

    Is it just my imagination, or has anyone else noted a certain sluggishness creeping into the Obama team? They seem incredibly slow off the mark, and I was amazed to see how they failed to make hay out of Romney’s extra little detail on his tax plan in the second debate. When the Tax Policy Centre took another look on foot of this new info, and again failed the math, I didn’t see any ads hammering this home.

  29. Moosebreath says:

    @C. Clavin:

    “Now he is going to have the World Court arrest Ahmadinejad”

    Funny, but I’m old enough to remember when it was a Republican talking point that Democrats treated terrorism as a police matter. Now, it’s apparently Republican policy to do so.

  30. MBunge says:

    @JKB: “Turns out, Obama was so wrong on his zing.”

    Yeah, I know this is pointless, but…

    The President didn’t say the military NEVER uses horses and bayonets. He was pointing out the extreme stupidity of Romney’s complaint about the U.S. not having as many ships in the Navy as in 1917.

    One of the problems in our political discourse is that as one side has become ever more buffoonish, the old standards of decorum are still too often clung to. But when you don’t treat a buffoon like a buffoon, people tend to forget what’s so buffoonish about them in the first place. It’s the mainstreaming of moronic demagoguery through fear of looking too mean.

    Mike

  31. Scott O says:

    @JKB: You’re saying Obama was wrong when he said “We also have fewer horses and bayonets”? Because we have a statue of one?

  32. Crusty Dem says:

    James, if you didn’t watch it, you missed the poor body language and Nixonesque flop sweat from Romney. He didn’t look good, didn’t want to be there, and was willing to say anything to get out unharmed. Probably the best he could manage, I’m surprised some of his major errors and etch-a-sketch positions aren’t getting any attention (Syria is Iran’s route to the sea??), or at least, would be if only I could forget the Bush debate performances of 2000-2004.

    Romney actually reminded me most of Bush in his debates with Gore, readily adopting any position of Obama to narrow the difference (remember Bush was going to sign the Kyoto protocol, for example). The less distinction and discussion, the better, because he obviously can only lose on foreign policy. Very disappointing that someone with James’ knowledge and experience fails to note Romney’s obvious inconsistencies, retractions, and falsehoods.

  33. C. Clavin says:

    “…I’m old enough to remember when it was a Republican talking point that Democrats treated terrorism as a police matter. Now, it’s apparently Republican policy to do so…”

    Well yeah…because that’s just one more f’ing thing Republicans were wrong about…most of the victories against terrorism have come through police work…including hunting down OBL. It wasn’t through torture, and it sure the f’ wasn’t by invading and occupying Iraq.
    But Romney is still going to win.
    Because Americans are stupid.
    We voted for Bush 43 twice. Now we are going to vote for Romney. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    Anyone who claims to know what Romney believes, or what he would attempt to do as president is delusional. Anyone who claims to know what Romney believes or would attempt to do, and likes it, is projecting.

  35. C. Clavin says:

    “…I await Doug’s post on the Republican’s war on Freedom of Speech…”

    Good luck with that.

    “…Very disappointing that someone with James’ knowledge and experience fails to note Romney’s obvious inconsistencies, retractions, and falsehoods…”

    Romney has run one of the most mendacious campaigns ever…saying from the get-go that lying was a fair tactic…yet nary a post on it from OTB.
    Go figure.

  36. Al says:

    @JKB:

    Congratulations! You’re smart enough to be the Veep!

  37. JKB says:

    @MBunge: @Scott O:

    Obama under cut his point. Especially since he prefaced it with “you don’t know how the military works”. Neither did he address Romney citing the Navy’s own 313 ship size determination.

    True, he did say “as many” but his implication was that more ships was like wanting to rebuild the horse calvary and go back to single shot rifles. Of course, we replaced the horses with trucks and helicopters. We issued select-fire rifles to almost every man/woman in the platoon. But oddly kept the bayonet in the equipment requirement. Now what did we replace the ships with? Aircraft on a bigger ship? Aircraft that can’t carry as much, go as far or stay in the fight as long?

    The point is, the snark revealed a weak grasp of “how the military works”. Kind of like Obama’s weak grasp of how businesses get started, built and grow.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    He lied, sweated, gasped, shifted positions and rattled off a string of jaw-dropping stupidities while wrapping himself in Mr. Obama’s policies.

    Arrest a foreign president for talking trash about Israel. Syria is Iran’s path to the sea. The idiotic “fewer ships than. . .” trope. The sudden switch to embracing a hard out deadline in Afghanistan. The sudden reversal on troops in Iraq.

    So James Joyner, foreign policy expert, doesn’t engage on a single issue, but confines himself to a shrug and a “Meh.”

  39. MBunge says:

    @JKB: “The point is, the snark revealed a weak grasp of “how the military works”.”

    Romney is the one who’s been saying there’s something wrong because we don’t have as many Naval ships as we did in 1917. That reveals that he’s either a Palin-level boob on the military or simply doesn’t care a whit about it and will repeat whatever line he’s given by his advisers.

    Mike

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    The point is, the snark revealed a weak grasp of “how the military works”. Kind of like Obama’s weak grasp of how businesses get started, built and grow.

    I am speechless in the face of such superior logic. I bow my head to you.

  41. bookdragon says:

    @JKB: This has to be the dumbest rightwing spin I’ve heard yet.

    Obama said ‘fewer’ not ‘none’, so the criticism would be baseless even if it wasn’t so stupid. Yes, we still occasionally use horses and bayonets. No, the fact that we use a lot fewer of them than in WWI doesn’t mean that our military is shrinking or in decline. Yeesh.

    Also, it’s true that aircraft carrier do have escort groups. It’s also true that one carrier group could wipe out not only the entire WWI era US Navy, but the entire combined navies of the whole world from 1917. Again, dumb talking point.

    The one on submarines just shows that you have no appreciation for snark.

    Lastly, on qualifications, Romney doesn’t even seem to know where Iran is on the map. If he did, he wouldn’t have made that preposterous statement about Syria being Iran’s path to the sea.

  42. Rob in CT says:

    So, the Etch-A-Sketch was apparently in full effect again.

    Any Conservatives have a problem with Romney saying things in the debates that are totally different than the things he’s been saying outside the debates? No? Shocking.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…

    “…Are you stupid…or just do not care what Romney says as long as he wins? “

    My bad for giving you the either/or question. Clearly it is both/and.

  44. Ken says:

    @cd6: The nutjob corner of the web where NRO and HotAir and the rest reside have convinced themselves that even though most polls show Obama “won,” IN REALITY Romney “won” by “not losing” which I am having difficulty wrapping my head around.

    It doesn’t matter who came in first, or second – what matters is that he got out there and did his best in an event that everyone knew would be a serious challenge for him. So Romney “won” in the same way that all kids in the Special Olympics “win”

  45. C. Clavin says:

    You know…seeing how JKB brought it up…Romney’s line about businesses running balanced budgets shows his ignorance about starting and running a small business (Romney was an investor, not a businessman). Businesses regularly go into debt at start-up, or in order to expand. Certainly Bain’s modus operandi was to run up the debt load on a company then sell it off when that debt inevitably became unsustainable. Romney ran more businesses into the ground than he saved. And the Olymics and Massachusetts both relied heavily on Federal money to balance their budgets. No federal money…no balanced budget.
    The very fact that Romney’s answer to the mathematic impossibility of his economic plan is that it will work because he is MITT ROMNEY…should be reason enough to disqualify him as President.
    But when you have otherwise intelligent people like James Joyner carrying Romney’s water…well…just because…the outcome of the election becomes clear.

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    aircraft carriers

    One of which could sink the entire navy of 1916. Which pretty much means we don’t need to try and recreate the Great White Fleet.

  47. Ken says:

    @JKB: Turns out, Obama was so wrong on his zing.

    A penguin was driving through the desert when her car broke down. After having it towed to the mearest garage, the mechanic told her he would take a look at it. The penguin, not enjoying the heat, decided to get some ice cream, which she devoured quickly as it melted. When she got back to the garagee, the mechanic said, “It looks like you blew a seal.” Blushing, the penguin replied, “Oh no! It’s just ice cream.”

    JKB: Turns out, Ken was wrong in his little “joke” – first of all, penguins can’t even drive cars, not to mention that they eat fish, not ice cream, blah blah blah…..

  48. C. Clavin says:

    @ Ken…
    That joke never fails to crack me up.
    Especially when Monkeys tell it…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2OpuuAa7gdE

  49. rudderpedals says:

    I swear his operators have a closet full of dopplegangers and brought the one with the rictus (the cheeriest bipartisian moderate) to the debate last night. There’s no consistency between them or reality. The only thing I’m sure of at this point in time is that there is no one there and nothing said during the campaign will have any meaning afterwards.

    FFS he spent the entire evening dissembling.

  50. mantis says:

    @JKB:

    True, he did say “as many”

    No, he said “fewer,” dumbass.

    but his implication was that more ships was like wanting to rebuild the horse calvary and go back to single shot rifles.

    No, his implication is that technology changes things, and fewer ships than in 1916 does not mean less strength than in 1916.

    Of course, we replaced the horses with trucks and helicopters.

    According to Romney’s logic, that makes us less strong. Do you agree?

    Now what did we replace the ships with?

    We have many new vessels compared to 1916, such as aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, submarines carrying nuclear and cruise missiles. None of those existed in 1916, and against them our 1916 navy wouldn’t stand a chance. In addition, the ships we have that existed in 1916, such as cruisers and destroyers, are much more powerful today than they were then.

    Aircraft on a bigger ship? Aircraft that can’t carry as much, go as far or stay in the fight as long?

    Yes, the jets on our aircraft carriers make us incredibly powerful, you moron. The aircraft on those carriers are not meant to “carry as much” or “go as far.” They are meant to bomb the shit out of things and fight other aircraft.

    The point is, the snark revealed a weak grasp of “how the military works”.

    Yes, Romney’s.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin: Heh. Got a giggle out of me.

  52. David M says:

    Romney reminded me of George W Bush during the debate. Bush was almost coherent if he was talking about a policy he cared about, but not if he wasn’t interested in the topic. I don’t think Romney cares about or understands foreign policy at all, as it’s just looking and sounding stronger to him.

    So we know Romney doesn’t care about foreign policy, isn’t informed about it and is taking advice from the George W Bush team. Seems to be a bad combination, as we should already know.

  53. jan says:

    @cd6:

    “The nutjob corner of the web where NRO and HotAir and the rest reside have convinced themselves that even though most polls show Obama “won,” IN REALITY Romney “won” by “not losing” which I am having difficulty wrapping my head around.”

    Obama scored on the flash polls. However, a much larger poll on Yahoo, 377,000 participants, Romney came out slightly ahead 52/48. What most analysts are saying is that partisans, from either side of the political spectrum, are saying their candidate won.

    Romney went into this last debate with his own strategy — not to take the bait from Obama — getting emotionally caught up in sound bite arguments that could later be spliced in ways making him appear angry and knee-jerking a war. Consequently, Romney finessed his responses, made some subtle points, but always circled back to his strong suit, the economy, and how it is the centerpiece, both domestically and overseas for global stability, growth, and peace.

    I thought Obama came prepared to do battle, and was disappointed, which accounted for his visible agitation and constant interruptions. Romney, BTW, didn’t interrupt Obama once, was relaxed, calm and patient This demeanor will be duly noted among many ‘moderate’ or on-the-fence female voters. In fact, it was Obama’s body language that I will remember most of all — his intense stares at Romney and cocked forward neck, making him appear like a turkey vulture, at times, in his smoldering stare-down and upper posturing tiIt. It was a weird physical stance, and not very attractive, IMO. One undecided female voter, interviewed afterwards, in fact, termed it as acting like a bully. She is now leaning towards Romney.

  54. mantis says:

    @jan:

    However, a much larger poll on Yahoo, 377,000 participants, Romney came out slightly ahead 52/48.

    Web polls are gamed nonsense. Anyone with any sense ignores them, which obviously excludes you.

    One undecided female voter, interviewed afterwards, in fact, termed it as acting like a bully. She is now leaning towards Romney.

    Well, that does it then. Cancel the election, everyone! Romney wins!

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jan:

    One undecided female voter, interviewed afterwards, in fact, termed it as acting like a bully. She is now leaning towards Romney.

    Well, I guess Romney has the “No Bullying of Bullies” vote then.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    Oh boy, she’s here…the poster child of the ill-informed, mis-informed, and under-informed…JANTIFICATING and making shit up…no links…just nonsense.

  57. C. Clavin says:

    “…always circled back to his strong suit, the economy…”

    ..and his mathematically impossible economic plan.
    Like I said…nonsense.

  58. JKB says:

    @mantis:

    You know what an aircraft carrier without it’s many escort ships, submarines and supply ships that make up a carrier group is called?

    A reef

    Sure today’s ships are more capable than in 1917 but we still need a lot of them. An carriers are impressive. Know one major limitation? They can’t be in two places at once. It can’t be in the Persian Gulf and also off Libya. It can’t be under refit and still deployed. It can’t be in the Med and also the South Pacific. These things it cannot do at the same time.

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Are you stupid…or just do not care what Romney says as long as he wins?

    This is not an either-or question, surely?

  60. David M says:

    @JKB:

    None of what you said matters. Comparing the size of the Navy now to 1916 is something a world class moron might do, and should rightly be mocked for. There is no larger point or deeper meaning to the comparison, although it is a good signal the speaker isn’t remotely informed about the issue.

  61. Rafer Janders says:

    @bookdragon:

    Also, it’s true that aircraft carrier do have escort groups. It’s also true that one carrier group could wipe out not only the entire WWI era US Navy, but the entire combined navies of the whole world from 1917.

    And they could do it in about ten minutes.

  62. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You know…seeing how JKB brought it up…Romney’s line about businesses running balanced budgets shows his ignorance about starting and running a small business (Romney was an investor, not a businessman). Businesses regularly go into debt at start-up, or in order to expand.

    Not just at the start, or in order to expland — most businesses of any size also use debt in order to fund continuing operations. There’s virtually no major American business that does not have anywhere from millions to billions, depending, of extant debt in the form of bonds, bank loans, convertible securities, or various other forms of debt financing. Unless they’re a powerhouse like Apple which just sits on a mountain of cash, businesses are the one entity in this country that you will never see running a balanced budget.

  63. MBunge says:

    @David M: “None of what you said matters”

    The non-responsive response has pretty much become the defining rhetorical tic of modern conservatism.

    Mike

  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @jan:

    One undecided female voter, interviewed afterwards, in fact, termed it as acting like a bully. She is now leaning towards Romney.

    Oh no! No!!!! This is horrible news!

  65. michael reynolds says:

    As one undecided female voter goes, so goes the nation.

  66. mantis says:

    @JKB:

    Sure today’s ships are more capable than in 1917 but we still need a lot of them.

    We have a lot of them. Romney’s contention is that we need more than we had in 1916, which makes no sense because the navy and the technology have changed so dramatically. There is no comparison, so the comparison is stupid.

    Know one major limitation? They can’t be in two places at once.

    Indeed. Good thing we have eleven active carriers and three under construction. That’s eleven more than we had in 1916, by the way.

    It can’t be in the Persian Gulf and also off Libya. It can’t be under refit and still deployed. It can’t be in the Med and also the South Pacific. These things it cannot do at the same time.

    Good thing nobody is saying a carrier needs to be in two seas at the same time. Do you want to make another straw man to play with?

  67. Moosebreath says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “Unless they’re a powerhouse like Apple which just sits on a mountain of cash, businesses are the one entity in this country that you will never see running a balanced budget.”

    Not really. Just because a business has outstanding debt does not mean they are not running a balanced budget. If they increase their outstanding debt, then, yes, they are running a deficit. But having debt does not make their budgets unbalanced any more than a homeowner who has a mortgage on their house does.

    Not to take away from the other responses to JKB, which are on target.

  68. Al says:

    @mantis:

    Good thing we have eleven active carriers and three under construction.

    The three Ford class carriers under construction are being built so the Enterprise, Nimitz and Eisenhower can be retired and all ten Ford class carriers will replace Nimitz class carriers. There will still only be 11 active carriers.

    I’ve ranted about how the carrier is obsolete before so I’ll leave that part out.

  69. J-Dub says:

    Romney was filibustering so much you would have thought he was running for the Senate.

  70. mantis says:

    @Al:

    The three Ford class carriers under construction are being built so the Enterprise, Nimitz and Eisenhower can be retired and all ten Ford class carriers will replace Nimitz class carriers. There will still only be 11 active carriers.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the overall total would change, but rather that we are always renewing our capabilities.

  71. J-Dub says:

    I expect to see Romney at a bayonet factory by tomorrow afternoon.

    Seriously though, Mitt, they weren’t laughing with you they were laughing at you.

  72. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @J-Dub:

    I expect to see Romney at a bayonet factory by tomorrow afternoon.

    Calling all Secret Service agents…. Do not let Mittens near sharp objects…. He will pull a Romneyshambles….

  73. anjin-san says:

    When Jan cited Cook yesterday, she left out the details-

    Romney’s Steep Path to 270
    Charlie Cook: “Not all of the states in this Toss-Up column are equal. Most private polls show Romney with low single-digit leads in North Carolina and Virginia. For the sake of argument, let’s give Romney both states, adding 28 additional electoral votes to the 191 that Romney already led in, for a total of 219–51 short of a victory.”

    “At the same time, Obama has a lead in Nevada that is wider than any advantage that Romney has in North Carolina and Virginia, so let’s add the Silver State’s six electoral votes to the Obama 237, bringing his total to 243, 27 short of 270.”

    “That leaves six remaining states — Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), and Wisconsin (10) — with a total of 76; Obama needs 27 of the 76 while Romney needs 51. But the challenge for Romney isn’t just that he needs to win two-thirds of the “true” Toss-Up state electoral votes. It’s that in five of the six (Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin) Obama is still leading in most polling, particularly the last two, while in Florida, it seems awfully close to dead even. If Obama carries Ohio and Wisconsin, where he is ahead in most polling, he gets the 270 with one electoral vote to spare, so Romney could sweep Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and New Hampshire and still come up short. No matter how you cut it, Ohio is the pivotal state, and it isn’t just the history of having gone with every winner from 1964 on and with no Republican ever capturing the White House without it.”

  74. Tillman says:

    So, once again, we had Romney saying the big difference between him and Obama was rhetorical.

  75. jan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Speaking more about bayonets:

    The US Army today has more than 560,000 troops and the USMC more than 200,000. Obama is wrong. we have hundreds of thousands more bayonets now than in 1916.

    Sarcasm and condescension only work if the speaker’s presumption of lofty superior knowledge is borne out by his command of actual facts. You can’t successfully accuse your opponent of being an ignoramus when you don’t know what you’re talking about yourself.

  76. David M says:

    @jan:
    And yet saying we have less bayonets and horses now than in 1916 is still not as wrong as comparing size of the Navy now to the size of the Navy in 1916.

  77. anjin-san says:

    I was watching the Giants win the pennant last night, so I missed the debate. Romney must have taken a pretty serious beating if conservatives are hanging their hats on how many bayonets we had almost a hundred years ago.

  78. anjin-san says:

    I’ve been hearing that Iran now has an edge on the US in the bayonet race – more incompetence from Obama. Jan, can you tells us anything about this serious threat to the American way of life?

  79. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Speaking more about bayonets:

    The US mobilized more than 4 million troops to WWI in 1917-1918. Lots of bayonets.

    But since we might have had fewer at the beginning of 1916, as your link indicates, Romney automatically gets to be president. Good job.

  80. Scott O says:

    @anjin-san: The bayonet gap. Romney will fix that.

  81. David M says:

    @Scott O:

    And the bayonet gap wins the thread. I will be shamelessly stealing that for the next time I hear about the Navy in 1916.

  82. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Oh the hell with it–if the American populace is dumb enough to elect a Mr. Etch-a-Sketch who will say whatever he needs to in front of whatever audience–it deserves what will happen to it.

    If? America has been dumbing down for the better part of a generation now, so all we can do is hope and pray that the moron-turn-out is low, and Obama is re-elected.

    Romney is very Nixonian – he does not believe in anything but winning an election, and is willing to say anything to win the election. Romney is Nixon, but without the charm.