WASHINGTON -- According to the pollsters and the so-called mainstream media, as of the dead of summer, the presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a dead heat. We also are told this race is all about the "economy" or "jobs" or "middle-class taxes" or "repealing Obamacare." Or not.
Supposedly, we're turned off by negative campaign ads, but we also want to know whether Romney really caused the death of an unemployed woman a half-dozen years ago -- as alleged by a Democratic super PAC commercial. And of course, we all are looking forward to poring over every tax return ever filed by Romney and the hidden papers, test scores and college transcripts of young Obama. Or not.
It's now less than three months until our presidential election. With the closing of the London Summer Olympics, we are told by the potentates of the press that the American people will soon stop counting medals and debating which team is better, the 1992 "Dream Team" or the 2012 USA basketball team. In theory, that means that next week, we will abruptly shift focus to hiring a chief executive, head of state and commander in chief. Or not.
With the U.S. unemployment rate still higher than 8 percent and stagnant job growth, one might expect our media to begin a conversation about which candidate offers the best course of action for our economy. Don't count on it. Next week, the pollsters and pundits are likelier to focus on the Republican vice presidential selection.
Meanwhile, crucial national security issues that will be determined in less than 12 weeks are mentioned rarely by the candidates and by those covering their campaigns. All we really know for sure about Obama's national security policy is that he likes to "lead from behind," that "he killed Osama bin Laden" and that his administration leaks like a sieve. Little more is known about Romney's foreign policy or how it would protect the American people.
Thanks to the ever-helpful media elites and Obama campaign commercials, we're aware that Romney's wife had a horse entered in the London Olympics, that the former governor of Massachusetts knows Israel's capital is Jerusalem, that he regards Iranian nuclear weapons to be an existential threat to the Jewish state and that by speaking in Poland, Romney is somehow a racist.
If the pollsters are indeed correct and this really is a neck-and-neck presidential race, the difference between the two candidates could well be defined by their positions on national security issues that matter as much or more than their tax policies. Here are just five -- and some questions that need to be asked and answered in the days ahead:
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.