Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney's game of "Battleship" insults U.S. electorate

(F)or Obama, the clear goal from the start was to coolly, firmly grab the stakes and drive them down into the heart of the Romney agenda; to put this agonizing dead heat out of its misery, once and for all....

In one especially memorable exchange, the president tore into Romney for promising to restore the U.S. navy to its former size as part of a larger pledge to add $2 trillion in military spending.

The fleet numbers, said Obama, mean nothing because of changing technology. And given the country’s debt challenges — and the fact the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined — it makes no sense to pledge what even senior force commanders say they can live without, he said.
“We also have fewer horses and bayonets,” the president deadpanned, in a clincher that instantly went viral. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them . . . . It’s not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships.” (From Mitch Potter's report on the Foreign Policy debate last night in Boca Raton, Toronto Star, October 23, 2012 excerpted below)
More to the point, it's not a "game" at all, as it so often feels like in Romney's presence.... a cynical game of "tell them whatever sells so I can play president"...given so many different Romney's that the Salt Lake City, Utah, daily, along with several other major dailies, has endorsed Obama for a second term "because there are too many Mitt's and he can't be trusted"...
Memorizing lines, as the puppet of both the Kochs, the Murray's and the Adelson's and some seventeen of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy advisors is not a strategy to occupy the most powerful position in the world. Playing stick-man to Obama's fully rounded character and person only exaggerates the gap between authenticity and a veneer of plasticity that insults the office, the campaign and the future "return" of the United States.
Just prior to the debate, we learned that the hard-nosed capitalist, Bob Murray, owner of Murray Energy, including at least one coal mine, paraded his helmeted workers onto a stage, in a photo-op with Romney, based on the Supreme Court's permission to employers to "use" their workers to publicly support political candidates, without regard to whether or not those workers agreed with the candidate for whom they were ordered to provide support. The Koch brothers, and others, have sent propaganda to their workers warning of dire consequences, like massive lay-offs and/or firings should Obama be re-elected. The "plutocrats" have returned to centre-stage, supported in large measure by their puppets on the Supreme Court, whose decision on Citizens United has changed the American political landscape apparently for ever.
Opposing those "plutocrats" is nothing short of essential, not only in America, as Obama is trying to do, through both his policies and his campaign strategies --soliciting small donations from millions of repeat donors, whose agenda is a better America for all, without tying the hands of the president, or his party's representatives in Congress--but also for the international community.
It is no accident, nor is it a trivial matter to note that if the people and leaders in most world capitals were permitted to vote in this presidential election, Obama would win "hands-down". And it is also not incidental to note Kofi Annan's public statements on the Sunday shows that American military action in Syria would be counter-intuitive, a note Obama might have played last night, except for the ridicule from the neo-cons who despise the UN and Annan for his failure to bring the parties to an agreement in Syria, and the Obama administration for "deferring to Annan" rather than "providing strong leadership"...which presumably means military action, bellicose verbosity and alienation of the painstakingly-constructed coalition that is currently imposing severe sanctions on Iran, with the support of both China and Russia.
The world needs Obama's steady, mature, balanced and firm hand on the international "tiller" as the world's ship of state sails through this next storm, because there is going to be a storm over Iran's obsession with acquiring a nuclear weapon and Romney's "playing battleship" is no substitute for an effective foreign policy, nor is his shifting positions on social issues, and his secretive non-disclosure of domestic spending cuts reasons for the needed trust and confidence of American voters, and the people of the world.
Let's face some "inconvenient truths"...in this election...The Republican's principal adversary, in fact their epitome of evil incarnate, is Obama, based largely on unspoken and sinister racism and their characterization of his Islamic, non-qualified unAmerican birth and communist policies (viz. Obamacare) is nothing less than a sophisticated and deceptive ruse spreading fear across the land, especially among the naive, the detached and the cynical, whose numbers, they believe, exceed those of articulate, mature and informed voters.
The  Republican campaign is an insult to the voters, to the candidate of the Democratic party and to the complexity of world geopolitical conflicts.
U.S. election: Mitt Romney struggles against cool, calm Barack Obama in foreign policy debate

By Mitch Potter, Toronto Star, October 23, 2012
(F)or Obama, the clear goal from the start was to coolly, firmly grab the stakes and drive them down into the heart of the Romney agenda; to put this agonizing dead heat out of its misery, once and for all.

Ninety minutes later, there was little doubt — the final round of kabuki theatre belonged to Obama. From Iran to Afghanistan to Libya to Egypt, from crushing the notion this is an apologetic president to taking ownership of the U.S. alliance with Israel, Obama equalled or bettered Romney.
Whether it will make the difference remains an open question, as the two now hurl themselves into a final fortnight toward Nov. 6, neck-and-neck by every measure.
Romney had a few powerful moments in Boca Raton, Fla. — each one delivered by pivoting away from the topic at hand to domestic issues, pounding the Obama administration’s dismal record on jobs, debt and economic growth.
The former Massachusetts governor has made the same points time and again. And this being their last direct encounter, small wonder he chose to pound that home-front drum.
But on the vast breadth of foreign questions, Romney’s decision to dial down his previous bluster and shift to the moderate middle simply didn’t work. Obama called him out each time, identifying the Etch-a-Sketch confusion as “all over the map,” and signalling that apart from rhetoric, little separates the two on the hardest questions of the day.
Yet where differences remain, it was Obama who made the most of them. In one especially memorable exchange, the president tore into Romney for promising to restore the U.S. navy to its former size as part of a larger pledge to add $2 trillion in military spending.
The fleet numbers, said Obama, mean nothing because of changing technology. And given the country’s debt challenges — and the fact the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined — it makes no sense to pledge what even senior force commanders say they can live without, he said.
“We also have fewer horses and bayonets,” the president deadpanned, in a clincher that instantly went viral. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them . . . . It’s not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships.”
The “bayonets” phrase had all the hallmarks of a “zinger” — well rehearsed, loaded for maximum impact. But it also smacked of condescension, a dog whistle of sorts to that large tranche of Americans who view the president as too clever for his own good.
As the debate wore on, Romney looked increasingly uncomfortable. Not with the depth of detail on the most delicate Mideast files — he had that down. But there was simply no space for him to frame more moderate positions on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Syria’s withering internal combustion without sounding almost exactly like the man he wants to replace.
Instead, Romney pivoted back to vagaries, repeating the widely debunked myth that Obama indulged in an “apology tour” in his first months in office, telling the world he was sorry for George W. Bush.
Obama leaped on it, saying: “If we’re going to talk about trips that we’ve taken . . . the first trip we took was to visit our troops, and when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t go to fundraisers . . . I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, to remind myself of the nature of evil.”
Obama then told of a visit to rocket-scarred Sderot, the town nearest to Hamas-controlled Gaza, describing how the Israeli families he met there moved him to mobilize U.S. funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system.
The exchange was enough to make any Palestinian grimace over America’s role as a fair broker. But facing an opponent who repeatedly accuses the White House of “throwing Israel under the bus,” Obama’s commanding display all but erased the possibility of any winning retort.
Obama was cooler this time that he was a week ago. But his calm demeanour belied an underlying aggression that was determined to cast Romney as out of touch and out of time.
That included a clash over Romney’s earlier characterization of Russia America’s foremost “geopolitical foe.”
“The Cold War has been over for 20 years,” said Obama. “When it comes to your foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s.”
Romney found his footing eventually, arguing that Obama’s policies in the Middle East and North Africa, however well-intended, are resulting in a “rising tide” of radicalism.
“Attacking me is not an agenda,” said Romney. “Attacking me is not how we deal with the challenges of the Middle East.”
The immediate post-mortems included a cluster of flash polls pointing to Obama as the winner — 48 per cent to 40 per cent (CNN), 53 to 23 (CBS), and 53 to 42, according to a Public Policy Polling survey of swing-state voters.



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