Foreign Policy: Can Obama Survive Tonight?
Tonight is the last Presidential debate. While it is very important, if Mitt Romney wins this election in two weeks, the first debate is likely to go down in history as one of the most significant in American history (along with JFK/Nixon and the Reagan debates). Possibly the most important because trend-lines were so significant against Romney, his advisors & supporters were starting the blame game, the swing states were all strongly against him, and there was no one turning moment in the debate - he just cleaned the President's clock throughout the debate.
The second Presidential debate and the Vice-Presidential debates were inconclusive with perhaps slight edges to Romney and Ryan, but because Obama had so blown the first debate and Republicans so underestimated Biden (wrongly) the press was able to spin them as a tie. But, regardless of biased media coverage, those debates did not slow the gradual momentum gained from the first debate.
In the first debate, Romney consolidated Republicans but most importantly, softened the liberal-induced bias of women, young people and some Hispanics against him. Plus Obama's ads and the media had made Romney into a cartoon mean rich guy. People saw that he wasn't so his likability soared and his compassion rating went up substantially. Those gains have largely held and gradually he has started to win some undecideds.
Tonight, in foreign policy, Romney should win. Liberal Democrats will of course think Obama won regardless of what happens. So will conservatives feel Romney won. Many partisans have likely voted. Most of the networks will work hard tonight to tilt that Obama won the debate. Those are all givens. If most media grant a tie, then Romney won. If they say Romney won, then it was a crushing win. (That's the rules Republicans play under.)
Ironically, Obama has a couple of problems. He so over-played his hand on Bin-Ladin that he has provoked a backlash. Romney has plenty of opportunities to direct people to Navy SEALS concerns. Romney should, at worst, get a draw on this issue that should have been a slam dunk for Obama. A good Romney line of the variation "I know your press operation has made it sound like you were actually in the compound" would have risk because of media criticism but likely would appeal to swing voters.
Libya/Egypt/Arab Spring the media, incredibly, thinks works to Obama's advantage because Romney supposedly spoke out at the wrong time. (This from a bunch of people who just attacked Bush policies from day one, when thousands of American soldiers had lives on the line minute-by-minute.) I think it is a big "win" issue for Romney.
The libs will try to attack Issa for "leaking names" on the cables, which is a crock, but may smokescreen what the cables actually say (truth is devastating). The extra advantage to Romney here is that every day after the debate will be another that upholds his position - post-debate discussion on what the President says is likely to be devastating.
On Israel, the generals endorsements, etc it goes to Romney. His weakness, that showed in the Biden/Ryan debate so hopefully he has an answer, revolves around always using war as a preferred option. For example, when criticizing Obama on Syria and Libya, what would he have done?
To many of us, the answer is clear but Romney has not said it: intervention should be when American interests are directly at stake. You can't do half-way things.
BTW an important sidenote is likely embassy security funding in the Ryan budget, a false issue but technical. The easiest answers are: 1) even if you agree that Ryan proposed a 19% cut and I don't agree, that would leave 1.2 billion for embassy security which should have included our Libyan ambassador in Benghazi on anybody's list of top 5 or 10 places to protect on 9/11 and 2) the alleged 300 million could easily be taken from the 700 million targeted to given to the Muslim Brotherhood Egytian government.
We shall see, but I predict a Romney edge and increased slight movement his direction.