LOS ANGELES, October 21, 2012 — President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney square off on Monday night, October 22nd, in their final of three presidential debates.
There are cracks surfacing at the White House over this debate. While Obama has an icy cool veneer that some describe as cold, there is one emotion running through him and his liberal supporters pre debate: Panic.
Mr. Obama was trounced in the first debate. While Obama showed passion in the second debate, that did not help him in the polls. He did well enough on debating “points,” but now trails by wide margins on who is better to handle the economy and other issues vital to voters.
This situation is similar to 2004, where voters thought John Kerry “won” the debates but still disliked him.
The analogy is not perfect. Obama is significantly more liked than Kerry was. Kerry is playing the roll of Romney in practice debates, yet that is not helping Obama.
The main problem for Obama regarding the third debate comes down to format. The second debate was perfectly set up for him, and he took advantage.
The second debate for the most part was about complete nonsense. Narrow interest groups demanding free stuff for their own constituencies at the expense of everyone else make up the heart of the Obama coalition. One woman demanded free birth control. A latina wanted amnesty for illegal aliens. Another woman wanted to bash former President George W. Bush.
Obama excels at alternating between waxing poetic and thundering righteous indignation. He is the warm, fuzzy, caring man who will protect Big Bird and Lily Ledbetter from evil, heartless Republicans wanting fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, and fewer lawsuits.
The third debate will be about foreign policy. Praising himself for killing Osama bin Laden has lost its effectiveness, and the White House knows this. The murder of four United States citizens including Ambassador Chris Stevens began as a debacle for the administration and has now cratered into a political nightmare.
Mr. Obama was rescued by moderator Candy Crowley in the second debate because she wanted to get to other topics. Bob Schieffer will not have such latitude because foreign policy is the entire discussion.
On domestic policy, President Obama can blame everybody else for everything that has gone wrong. Everything is the fault of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Congressional Republicans, the Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist, and (in case of emergency break glass and shriek about) Sarah Palin. No matter how bad the economy gets, Obama will say he inherited a mess.
This does not work with foreign policy. The crises that have happened on Obama’s watch have sprung directly from his decisions and actions, or in many cases his indecision and inaction.
The president inherited a stable Iraq and an Afghanistan that had made strides forward. Things have gotten much worse on his watch, with deaths of United States soldiers skyrocketing since Obama took office.
The people of Iran stood up in 2009, and Obama effectively sided with the mullahs by eschewing the traditional liberal position of supporting human rights.
Bashar Assad of Syria is committing genocide, and Obama has been powerless to stop it, or even slow it down.
Until last week, Obama repeated the tired cliche that bin Laden was dead and al Qaeda is on the run. We now know that al Qaeda is stronger than they were when Obama took office, and it is getting stronger.
This is before getting to the mess that was the terrorist attacks on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. Obama benfitted initially from a media more interested in Romney’s criticism of Obama actions than in those actions themselves.
Mr. Obama piously claims that he is “conducting an investigation,” and that he will “get to the bottom of this.” As with the Fast and Furious investigation, he wants this to stay in the background just until he can get reelected.
Any critic of the Obama Administration is attacked as being “biased” or “partisan.” Yet even some non-partisan journalists are slowly starting to ask some hard questions.
Why was there not adequate security, even after Ambassador Stevens begged for it?
Who made the decision not to supply the needed security?
Why was a movie blamed when the administration knew it had nothing to do with the attacks?
Why were the attacks described as spontaneous when the administration knew they were well coordinated to fall on the 9/11 anniversary?
Even if one accepted the flimsy argument that the administration did not know, isn’t it fair to say they should have known? How could they not know?
Hillary Clinton took the blame, and Obama said he should be held accountable. Yet why has nobody been fired? Doesn’t this render words such as accountability completely meaningless?
Who are the terrorists? Do they claim to be acting in the name of any religion? Are they Radical Islamists, and if so why is this being ignored? Is political correctness putting our lives at risk?
It is one thing when Romney or conservative opinion columnists ask questions. The mother of one of the dead Americans is angry that her son’s death is being described as “not optimal.”
Mr. Obama has to confront these and other hard questions head on, and that is not his strong suit. He likes to use humor to mock Romney, whether it be twisting comments about Big Bird or creating a fictional controversy over “binders full of women.” Obama likes to answer every question from gasoline prices to unemployment numbers with a platitude about investing in education and hiring more teachers.
That does not work with foreign policy. Schoolteachers do not prevent terrorists from blowing America to kingdom come. A heavily armed military does that. Obama’s obsession with raising taxes on the “rich” has led to the possible “sequestration” of defense funds marked for deep, drastic cuts.
Liberal commentators will point out that Mitt Romney is much more comfortable discussing economic issues. Yet this assumes falsely that Romney lacks understanding of how the world works. Pointing out where Obama’s idealistic vision has failed is not a challenging task.
The Arab Spring has turned to a harsh, Islamist, democracy-suppressing winter.
Anything can happen in a debate, and Bob Schieffer is no lover of conservatives. Maybe he will be fair, and maybe he will not be.
Yet what is undeniable is that Obama has taken a beating in October over his handling of the Libya affair. He may face difficulty answering foreign policy questions because he simply wants to avoid answering them at all costs. It is for this very reason that the questions must be asked and answered.
This is bigger than a debate, or even the office that the winner of the election gets to live in. This is about getting to the truth.
Unlike domestic issues, foreign policy issues are matters of life and death. There are dead Americans, and we all have a right to debate whether Obama’s policies contributed to those deaths.
Many Americans will disagree on the answers to such questions, but the questions themselves deserve to be asked and the answers deserve vigorous discussion and debate.
For this and other reasons, President Obama is dreading the foreign policy debate.
There will be debate watching parties across America. Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino, California, will feature one of these 6pm PST gatherings.
For those living in the Southern California area, the final presidential debate will be followed by the “debate of the debate.” After the debate at 7:30pm, yours truly will debate one Mr. Randy Steinberg; I will advocate for Governor Romney, while Mr. Steinberg, an accomplished Democratic consultant, will be making the case for President Obama.
The hope for both of us is not only that our respective candidates win the White House, but that the audience can see two Americans (who are both Jewish) debate issues and still break bread afterwards.
We are hoping for a lively conversation and a bit of fun.
Despite the competition from Monday Night Football, millions of people will be tuning in to hear what Obama and Romney have to say. Randy and I hope to add to the quality of the discussion.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS
Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at TYGRRRR EXPRESS
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