After watching the third presidential debate, are you clear on America's foreign policy? I thought not. That's because there appears to be no singular foreign policy, rather a series of foreign policies, which must be tailored to fit each nation.
I expected Mitt Romney to go after President Obama on his most recent foreign policy failure, the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, including the U.S.
ambassador. The president had no explanation as to why there was inadequate security in Benghazi, preferring instead to say only that we are "going after the killers." Romney refused to press him on it. Some may have viewed this as a missed opportunity, but I think it was designed to show Romney's restraint and to counter the "do you want to get us into another Middle East war?" charge.
One of Romney's better lines was, "we can't kill our way out of this mess," meaning terrorism and the Middle East, but he failed to go for the political "kill;" instead he agreed with the president several times.
Possibly for the same reasons I mentioned?
When moderator Bob Schieffer asked the ultimate question, "What is America's role in the world?" neither candidate's answer was revealing beyond their campaign speech bromides.
What was surprising was the reaction to the debate by some in the "liberal media," which has been in the tank for Mr. Obama since he began running for president. Some of them seemed to retreat from the worshipful attitude they have displayed toward the president since beginning four years ago to assist his self-promotion as a messianic deliverer from our national sins.
Former White House aide David Gergen said on CNN, "I think Mitt Romney did something that was extremely important to his campaign tonight and that was he passed the commander-in-chief test." Indeed, that was all he had to do, much like Ronald Reagan in his 1980 debates with Jimmy Carter. If voters want to "fire" a president, they want to be assured his replacement is up to the job. Chuck Todd of NBC News said on MSNBC, "...the president's got bigger problems than trying to disqualify Mitt Romney now.
The president has to re-qualify himself for a second term."
CNBC's John Harwood concluded that it was the president who looked like the challenger with his sharp attacks and interruptions. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post tweeted, "If you had no idea about the race, the level of aggression from Obama would make you think he is behind."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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