Mitt Romney’s just not that into foreign policy.
The hapless Republican nominee for president spent most of the only foreign-policy debate of the 2012 fall campaign mumbling lines like:
“I want to underscore the—the same point the president made…”
“That was something I concurred with…”
“I supported his—his action there…”
“I don’t blame the administration…”
“…do as the president has done…”
“… and feel the president was right…”
“I congratulate him for what he has done.”
On drones, on Syria, even on Libya, Romney agreed with the president. Romney even appeared to shift his stance on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, steering toward a position that suddenly parallels the administration plan for a 2014 exit strategy. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, described Romney as an “inexperienced” “Etch-A-Sketch candidate” who is not ready to be president.
Brent Bozell, an iconic and well-regarded conservative who serves as president of the Media Research Center, messaged forty-five minutes into the debate: “Something is wrong with Romney tonight. He’s refusing to challenge Obama’s failed policies. He’s sounding LIKE Obama. This is terrible.”
Undecided voters surveyed by CBS agreed, indicating in a snap poll that Obama had won the commander-in-chief test by a staggering 53-23 margin. That was a wider margin than Romney got after the first debate that was broadly seen as his big win.
All of this was good news for Obama, if not necessarily for the national discourse. In too many senses, Monday night’s debate was a confirmation of the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that so frustrates Americans who want a broader debate on fundamental questions of war and peace, globalization and human rights. And it was a reminder that alternative candidates, such as Green party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, should have been included in these debates.