“Declaring something an act of terror does not necessarily mean you are declaring it a terror attack.”
–Megyn Kelly, Fox News, October 18, 2012
The most remarkable thing about the third presidential debate between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney was what didn’t happen. Fox News Mitt, the right-wing fire breather expected to tear Obama a new one over his vacillating foreign policy, never showed.
Instead, voters saw Moderate Mitt, an intelligent fellow with limited understanding of the world beyond a balance sheet, playing it safe: out of his element, and completely out of his league.
Inside the Fox News bubble, see, President Obama is an affirmative-action hire lost without a teleprompter. Face to face, however, a fully-engaged president was more than his inexperienced rival could handle.
Pundits trying to make Romney look shrewd call it a tactical retreat. Bush-style bombast would have scared women voters, who don’t want to send their children to Syria; nor to Iran.
So Romney ended up affirming President Obama’s policies almost across the board—all but nominating him as Secretary of State in a Romney administration—and getting his hat handed to him when he didn’t.
At times, Obama risked arousing sympathy for his opponent. Responding to Romney’s complaint about today’s Navy having too few ships, the president’s sarcasm was withering: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities.”
Romney wisely dropped the issue.
Other times, Obama let him off easy. Syria’s strategically crucial, Romney announced, because it’s Iran’s “route to the sea.” Never mind that Syria and Iran don’t share a land border, while Iran has hundreds of miles of beachfront property on the Persian Gulf.
Obama could have noted that the guy criticizing him for not making peace between Israel and Palestine told supporters in a secretly recorded video that peace there was impossible.
Truthfully, Romney probably lost the third debate when he bungled so badly at the end of the second. The candidate’s immersion in the Fox fake news bubble left him looking like the overmatched prosecutor on the old “Perry Mason” show.
For weeks, Fox and its allies had falsely alleged that the Obama administration cravenly refused to call the murder of four Americans at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya a terrorist act.
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