by: the Common Constitutionalist
Well, it took me a while to realize what I was actually watching during the final Romney/Obama debate.
As Charles Krauthammer so aptly described in his post-debate analysis; it was Romney going big and Obama going small. I might add that Obama didn’t just go small, but also petty.
Obama did his darndest to pull Romney into his own micro-squabbling world, but Mitt just would not take the bait and one could tell by the look on the presidents face that his, or someone’s (maybe Axelrod’s) strategy wasn’t working.
This is what took me some time to figure out. I finally realized that Romney was Ronald Reagan and Obama was Saul Alinsky.
Romney’s strategy seemed to be to stay above the fray. Be friendly and likeable while choosing the battles he could frame with big overarching themes. Romney appeared more likeable as Obama insulted and demeaned him.
The times Mitt did engage Obama, he showed he had a firm grasp of the issues. He felt he did not have to dwell on any particular issue or go into detail. Instead, just to reassure the American public that he knows his stuff and can be trusted. This would, of course, drew the ire and insults from the president.
Frankly, if one didn’t know better, one would think Romney was president and Obama was the challenger.
Now, for those of us who are conservative and keep abreast of all the issues, the overly agreeable and aisle-crossing Romney was a bit frustrating, but this debate was not intended for us. It was the final debate and Romney calculated that he could pull in the balance of the “undecideds” with a grander theme. I think it worked and the Obama team appeared to be blind-sided by it.
About 30 minutes in, I realized we were not watching a debate on foreign policy at all. Romney masterfully kept bringing it back to the American economy, his strongest suit. He reiterated time and again that American foreign policy was dependent upon a strong economy, which only he could restore.
The specific points he did make were fact-checked and he was found to be 100% correct.
The matter of General Motors was a great example. Romney claimed he wrote an op-ed in the Wallstreet journal describing how he thought GM should be guided through a controlled bankruptcy, enabling the car company to free itself from debt and other obligations. He said that the government should guarantee loans and such to help them recover. Obama flatly stated that Romney was not telling the truth and he did not say this. It was fact-checked and what Romney had written years earlier was exactly as he described it during the debate.
The lowest light (there were many low lights) for Obama was, of course, the discussion over the size of our Navy. Romney stated that our Navy is smaller than any time since the early 20th century. He is correct, by the way.
Obama, in a condescending tone, explained that things are different now and we also don’t use horses and bayonets any longer either. Mr. Romney must just not understand modern warfare. Well, in fact, Mr. Obama, the military still uses bayonets and have many times, utilized the horse in Afghanistan. How odd you didn’t know that.
Toward the close of the debate was a discussion on trade and the imbalance with China. This was a walk-off home run for Romney. It was even more satisfying seeing the moderator, Bob Schieffer, desperately trying to help the beleaguered president, to no avail. They could do nothing but watch as Mitt calmly and succinctly presented his case for dealing with China.
This brings me to the hug. Romney won the debate and both he and Obama knew it, the minute it was over. How can I be so sure? Easy; body language.
As the debate ended they both got up, shook hands, at which time, their wives approached them on stage. Mitt was all smiles as he hugged his wife. The cameras were rolling on both the candidates. Simultaneously, Obama hugged Michelle. No smile, eyes closed, with a rather somber look on his face. His expression gave me the impression he knew it was over.
A simple hug was all it took for me to declare a winner, although, by that time, I and most others already knew.