During the debate, we went into some foreign territory. The election is going to be about the economy and the size of government, not foreign policy, but the task of a president–and, let’s not forget, a government–is most essentially to protect Americans. It is, at the most basic level, not to be a manager or prophet or pop star, but a commander-in-chief.
And that was what the debate was: a clear view for all of the two prospective commanders-in-chief. While they are similar in many ways, there were some minor differences that might have major consequences in the future. As with the economy, the American people already know Obama’s foreign policy. We’ve lived through it for the past four years, and so it is to be expected that more focus has been put on Mitt Romney.
Romney kept the gloves on and passed up numerous opportunities for attacks, but, to his credit, he looked more reasonable; he looked calm, cool and collected. Obama, on the other hand, looked the way he did in the second debate: irate. Romney treated the debate as a professional performance; the president seemed to take it personally.
Let’s face it: Romney had a lot of red meat that he could have thrown to his base. We know that the Obama administration lied to us about Benghazi; that is all in the public record. However, Romney did not even mention it, never mind pressing him on it.
Romney was presidential. He had a staggering number of statistics available off the top of his head. The president didn’t have many of his own–any, actually, that I can recall–and couldn’t challenge Romney’s factual assertions.
The left seems exasperated at how often the two candidates agreed and are criticizing Romney for agreeing with the president, but they shouldn’t feel that way. Foreign policy has never been a purely partisan issue. Even during the worst months of Vietnam or during the summer of 2007, there were hawkish Democrats and isolationist Republicans. There are ideological divides in foreign policy, but they do not cut evenly between the political parties. This is the one area in which we have not become polarized.
To give just one example that demonstrates this, every president who has run for office on a peace platform has waged war: Wilson, Johnson, Nixon, Obama. When you’re president, things happen out in the world that you cannot control. The world outside is a lot more volatile than the world inside. It’s a lot harder to be an ideologue in foreign policy than it is in writing checks to Solyndra.
Moreover, Romney’s confidence made Obama look all the more narcissistic. The president was, frankly, petulant. Obama attacked first, last and most often. Almost every interruption was by him. He even seems to have caught himself overreaching and broke out his million-watt smile when chastened by Romney for interrupting. Consider that the president said, like King Louis, “This country–me.” I knew what he was trying to say, but it’s particularly startling to hear the president say it while glaring across at Romney.
So what is it that the Democrat-media complex wants from Romney? Had he disagreed and carped at the president, he would be called partisan, an ideologue. The governor demonstrated an open and rational mind, which was aided by his closing statement’s mention of bipartisanship. How ironic it is that President Hope-and-Change was on the attack, while Romney cited an actual record of bipartisan leadership.
Generally, a draw goes to the incumbent, but–the “scientific” snap polls notwithstanding–I think that this is a slight victory for Romney. He appeared presidential in front of the American people, unmediated by the media. It was a golden opportunity, and he took it.
Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.