The objective of the final presidential debate was to determine if Governor Romney or President Obama scored higher on the “ability to seem like the Commander in Chief” test. And while Romney was not as bellicose as he was in the second debate, he undeniably received a lower grade, unable to hide his discomfort discussing foreign policy.
Romney spent the entirety of the debate altering his past positions and agreeing with President Obama; differentiating himself only by stating the he would have done what the President did, but somehow better. Obama made sure to point this out, expressing joy that the Governor was now supporting his foreign policy on a number of occasions.
Romney explained that because of the President’s leadership, Iran was now four years closer to a nuclear weapon, but that the Obama Administration was right in imposing the sanctions that have put the rouge state in economic turmoil; lacking any explanation as to how his policy over the next four years would be any different. While discussing the current civil war in Syria he criticized the President for not taking a strong enough stance against al-Assad, but gave no specific alternatives, explaining that he would continue what Obama is already doing. Romney also declared that he would fulfill the President’s plan to remove troops in Afghanistan by 2014, contradicting his previous position to evaluate the situation before making a final decision to drawdown.
Romney tried to detract from his obvious inexperience and past positions by continuously dancing his way to the left, mentioning his desire for peace, more often than not, and seizing any opportunity he had to reference the economy.
In the globalized world that now exists, discussion of the economy and education was appropriate, as foreign issues have understandably become domestic ones; but it replaced many foreign policy matters that should have been debated. Neither candidate mentioned the Eurozone crisis, or the effects that it is sure to have on America. Nor was there any real discussion of Latin America or any East Asian countries other than China. While the Middle East is of obvious importance to America’s national security, it must not be forgotten that the rest of the world exists. Over the last four years we have seen the President work with NATO to help defeat an oppressive regime in Libya and work with European leaders regarding their financial crisis. Last night was Romney’s chance to prove that he is aware there are more than two regions in the world, and he missed the opportunity.
Governor Romney needed to show the American people that he would be a strong alternative to Obama, but instead he presented himself as a more nervous version of the current President.
*The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.