Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fight Night

The final presidential debate -- on everyone's favorite subject, foreign policy! -- has been sliced and diced a-plenty in the last 48-hours.

But if you're dying to rehash President Obama's sharp one-liners -- the 80s called and, well, nevermind -- or Mitt Romney's discipline in staying above the fray -- a strategy his advisers clearly thought would help improve his chances of winning the war, even though he lost the battle -- then I present you my colleague Steve Dennis' and my take on the evening for Roll Call.

I said (er, Tweeted) it at the time and I'll say it again, despite all the chatter leading up to the debate that Romney would be moderating his position on foreign affairs the same way he pivoted towards the center on domestic policy in the previous two debates, I still found myself a bit startled that he passed on a clear chance to take the president on about the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi. Yes, he muffed it in the second debate, but I'm sure his debate coaches could have come up with a line nailing Obama for the security situation in Libya, if not the White House's descriptions of the attack afterwards, where there doesn't seem to me much "there" there.

It may be wise, however, to leave the task to surrogates -- like congressional Republicans, who continue to hammer the administration on a daily basis for what they knew and when. That appears to be taking a toll on the president and his ratings on international affairs and terrorism, according to the latest polls.

The biggest news out of the debate for Washington was the president's confident prediction that there will be no sequester. Preventing those draconian budget cuts -- particularly on the military side -- has been the obsession inside the Beltway for the last year. How Obama makes that a reality remains to be seen.