The third and final presidential debate, on Monday night, revealed to voters mainly two things: One is something that voters got a peak of in the second debate as well—Barack Obama is not as friendly a person as he generally portrays himself. The other is that Mitt Romney, if elected, will not need to undergo on-the-job training; he is ready to be President.
To the first point, we saw throughout the debate an aggressive Obama. Now, there is good aggression and there is bad aggression. Good aggression is respectful persistence; bad aggression is disrespectful condescension, ill-humored sarcasm. Obama was the latter.
Obama said to Romney,
You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
As someone who dislikes Obama but greatly enjoys sarcasm, I was conflicted but couldn’t help smiling. I appreciated the sarcasm, notwithstanding the President’s bad attitude behind it. I think I am among the minority of Americans in this regard, however.
In what was probably a case of overcompensation for avoiding eye contact with Romney in the first debate, Obama also appeared to believe he had death-ray vision. He looked as if he were attempting to smite Romney dead by staring so intently at him. This made him come across as a bully trying to intimidate.
To the second point, Romney’s being well qualified to take the helm—he displayed a firm grasp of the issues, a solid understanding of the dangers posed to us, and an unwavering confidence in his specific plans to address them.
Romney also demonstrated his commitment to Israel with words more believable than anything Obama has said on the matter: when moderator Bob Schieffer asked, “What if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone and said, ‘Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to bomb Iran’? What do you say?” Romney answered,
“Bob, let’s not go into hypotheticals of that nature. Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the Prime Minister of Israel, is such that we would not get a call saying “our bombers are on the way” or their fighters are on the way. This is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before that kind of action.”
In other words, with Romney as President, we wouldn’t even need to worry about that scenario.
Another question was posed to both candidates: “What do you believe is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country?”
Obama answered that China’s violations of international trade laws, their selling us cheap tires, and the fact that we don’t have the best education system in the world are the three biggest national-security threats America faces.
Schieffer said, “Alright,” and then, turning to Romney, “Governor?”
Romney, demonstrating that his head is not buried in the sand, said, “The greatest national-security threat is a nuclear Iran.”
After the debate, a focus group on Fox News hosted by Frank Luntz (of whose focus groups I’m usually wary) had 25 of the 27 people saying that while Obama did win this debate, they are still going to vote for Romney. The shocker: a large majority of them voted for Obama in 2008.
Obama needed to halt Romney’s momentum in this debate, and he failed to do so. As Chuck Todd, Democrat, said Tuesday morning on MSNBC, “[T]he president’s got bigger problems than trying to disqualify Mitt Romney now; the president has to re-qualify himself for a second term.”
Because of the accuracy in that assessment, Barack Obama lost the debate and will lose again in thirteen days.