By David Beilstein
THE third presidential debate is always a tricky political carnival.
By the time the third debate happens, the contours of the upcoming election are, as it were, in the bag. Given that, Republican challenger Mitt Romney did what he needed to do. He was presidential. And he protected his turf, isolating and illumining the Obama administrations derelict foreign policy choices abroad.
Further, Mr Romney connected America’s role in the world to its fiscal well-being, an area of superior weakness for the president.
It seems the Romney campaign wanted to stay away from Libya. The hope, apparently, is that further evidence-trails of cover-up and dereliction at the hands of the incumbent administration comes out, increasingly the president’s decent in the polls. This probably resulted from Mr Obama’s strong moment in the second debate — where the president was personally offended at the political nature of Romney’s attack on Libya.
Mr Obama was again aggressive, but often grating and aggravating. It is the president’s precarious record that forces him to try to run as a challenger against Republican rule — against the cowboy-ism of the Bush years. Romney, for his part, effectively countered such tactics in most exchanges.
Romney was effective on Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan — while the president, stridently, protected more than he should have been allowed to. There was much caution in Mr Romney, Monday night. But I do not see it changing the election and it will play well with non-partisans who are looking for a president, not a cage fighter.
In the beginning of the debate, Romney appeared the weaker of the two. This, again, as due to Romney’s caution — not his command of the issues. Part of this, I believe, is because of a civil war within Republican circles about foreign policy. While there is need for aggression and a removal of Obama era apologising for American principals, there is also the concern of global social engineering — of two wars badly managed and their cost in lives and treasure. This is a burden on Romney’s ability to communicate a different tack than the president.
This also, illustrates why even Romney’s vision for America’s role in the world is somewhat hobbled. It is not America’s role to create a peaceful world. America’s foreign policy is about America. The reason America should not have gone into Libya is because that was the wisest thing for American security. A lack of clarification here, in contrast to Mr Obama’s policies, was a missed opportunity for Romney to not only distinguish himself from Mr Obama, but also illumine a brighter future. A future where America is prosperous and strong, and minding its own business unless messed with.
In the aggregate, Mr Romney achieved his goals. That is, he did not come off like a cowboy, a warmonger — as Iraq and Afghanistan have become unpopular — but countered the president with consistent attacks. Wisely, Romney pivoted back to economic realities at home were he scored his biggest points.
Nothing America seeks to do abroad is disconnected from its domestic wealth — and that wealth is plummeting on account of profligate spending and collectivist policies enforced by an overzealous Obama administration.
But there is a larger panacea at play. Mr Obama is losing this election and he did not explicate a future based on long established American principals abroad. He was unable to offer his voters a future. Mr Romney did. Likewise, Mr Obama did not push Romney into errors disestablishing the Republican challenger as a potential Commander-and-Chief.
Mitt Romney wrapped up the third debate, once again, showing the American people he can be president.
The sitting president, then, must always clearly establish for the electorate, the challenger is an unacceptable candidate for the presidency. Mr Obama failed to do that tonight, and the past two debates, in which case, he lost this debate in the macro.
Unless unforeseen events take shape, Mr Romney’s ascent will continue — and he will be the next president of these United States of America.