Monday, October 22, 2012

The Last Presidential Debate: We can’t kill our way out of this mess


(Note written half-way through: I’m tempted to remove all indicators of who said what and let you guess, maybe have a quiz, watch the hilarity ensue.)

The questions start with fucking Benghazi, which is so inconsequential in the context of, you know, the world, and global foreign policy, that I am so fucking sick of hearing about this shiny-object issue.

R: an attack in Benghazi by “terrorists of some kind”

R on the Middle East: “we can’t kill our way out of this mess.” We’d have to change the national slogan from “Killing Our Way Out of This Mess Since 1776.”

I had to look back at the transcript to figure out what “this mess” meant. It’s evidently his term for the entire Middle East.

R: My strategy is to “go after the bad guys” (He’s totally into the bad boys) “to interrupt them...” Well, he’s good at that. “... to kill them.” In other words, to kill our way out of this mess.

He also wants to “get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own.” Just like he did the Republican Party.

O: “And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” How are the 1980s calling us, anyway? It would be extremely weird if the 1980s were tweeting at us.

Hey, Barack, 2007 called, it wants its sitcom meme back.

BUT IT SURE IS FUN: R: “attacking me is not an agenda.”

O: “I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered.” So he’s not immortal? Good to know.

R: “Syria’s an opportunity for us.” Yeah, that’s how Syrians want to hear we think about them.

Oh, it gets better. He talks about organizing the “responsible” parties in Syria. And then arming them. They can call themselves the “Armed and Responsible Party.” And he wants a “council.”

Both of them say we need to coordinate our Syria policy with Israel, which a) paints the Syrian opposition as puppets of Israel, b) suggests that it’s legitimate for Israel (as well as the US) to intervene to shape Syria’s future government. What “responsible” Syrians could work with people who think that?

O says we went into Libya and “immediately stop[ped] the massacre there”. Is that how he remembers it?

O: “Moammar Gadhafi had more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama bin Laden.” Unless you count George Bush.

R has mentioned “responsible” parties in Syria like thirty times now. No one is asking him to define his terms.

R: “But unfortunately, in nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago.” Because nothing said American influence like the reaction of world leaders when they heard that George Bush was on the phone.

I thought this was supposed to be the foreign policy debate, but evidently they’ve gotten bored with the rest of the world.

O: “Now, keep in mind that our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined -- China, Russia, France, the United -- United Kingdom, you name it, next 10.” And this was a good idea because...?

Romney says our navy is smaller than at any time since 1917. Wasn’t it 1916 in the last debate? Is this a Lusitania thing? Oh, and the air force is “older and smaller” than it was in 1947.

O notes that we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Instantly wins that exchange.

O adds that it’s “not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships.” Navy Secretary... who the fuck is the navy secretary?... Ray Mabus... must be feeling very dejected right about now. Dude lives for a good game of Battleship.

O brags about “crippling” Iran’s economy.

R is against not only a nuclear Iran but also a “nuclear-capable Iran,” which is a term that means pretty much whatever we want it to mean, justifying attacking them whenever we feel like attacking them.

R also appreciates “crippling” sanctions. Because you can’t have enough cripples.

R would “indict” Ahmadinejad for genocide incitation. Did you know the president of the United States could indict the president of Iran? It’s right there in the Constitution, probably. Indeed, did you know that you can indict people for genocide who have committed no genocide? Me neither.

O: “You know, there have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the some things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that that would make a difference.” Also, more dickishly.

Apology tour! Drink!!

R: my crippling sanctions will be more crippling than his crippling sanctions.

R on the apology tour: “You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations. Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.” And from democracies. And from many of their citizens being alive. Because we’re all about the freeing.

O. says when he went to Israel, it wasn’t a fundraising tour. Another reasonably good response that he could have come up with a few months ago. And he went to the Holocaust museum, and totally bought a t-shirt in the gift shop, so don’t tell him he doesn’t love Israel.

R: “I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding”. For example, our influence around the world would be greater if our relations with Israel were better. Because Israel is the most beloved country in the world.

O says it was a good idea to kill bin Laden because he met some girl whose father was in the Twin Towers, and killing bin Laden brought closure to her. Obama is all about bringing closure to teenage girls.

That came out creepy in a way I didn’t intend.

Asked what he’d do if in 2014 Afghanistan weren’t ready to handle its own security, Romney totally rejects the premise. Unpossible! Asked what he’d do if Netanyahu called up and said his planes were on their way to bomb Iran, Romney totally rejects the premise. Unpossible!

O: “there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.” That probably sounded better in the original LBJ.

Actually, it didn’t.

R. looooves him some drones.

O. stopped China from flooding us with cheap tires. I’m pretty sure that was the plot of a Fu Manchu movie.

R: China has 20 million people coming out of the farms every year. And you thought they just grew rice.

R: we can be a partner with China. “Now, they look at us and say, is it a good idea to be with America?” It’s because we’re fat, isn’t it?

China counterfeited some valves! Nuke them!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s check the record.

MR. ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness.

ROMNEY: “I’m still speaking.” Drink!

In the foreign policy debate, both closing statements were entirely about domestic issues.

Two references to George Bush in the entire debate, one by each candidate (fewer than the number of times Romney brought up Mali or used the phrase “spinning centrifuges”), and both of those references were on economic issues. American foreign policy began in 2009.

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  1. “Moammar Gadhafi had more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama bin Laden.” Unless you count George Bush.

    Or Barack Obama.

  2. Brilliant analysis of the "debate" by RT's Abby Martin:

  3. Also a great takedown by Jon Stewart, especially the word-for-word identical responses by R & O on Syria. Stewart makes a big point about Romney agreeing with Obama's foreign policy, which of course also means that Obama agrees with Romney's foreign policy.