Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Who knew that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could be so agreeable?

With the race as tight as ever, and in light of last week’s spirited and heated debate between Obama and Romney, all eyes were on Boca Raton, Fla., on Monday night as the presidential candidates squared off for the third and final time before the election. 

It wasn't long before Obama sunk Romney's battleship, however.

But perhaps the best exchange of the night was when Romney discussed increasing the military, repeating a claim that the U.S. Navy is the smallest it’s been since 1917.
“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” Obama’s responded. “You mentioned our Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we had in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have ships that go underwater.” He added, “The question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships.”

I don't think the debate was even close, but apparently it won't matter.

On the substance, Obama won the debate. "Governor Romney reminds me of Pinocchio," Obama foreign-policy adviser Richard Danzig, a former Navy secretary, told me afterward. "He wants to be a real boy. He wants to talk strategy. But I don't think Governor Romney really lives in the 21st Century." (Danzig also rolled his eyes at the GOP's contention that Obama had dissed the Navy. Modern naval carriers, he said, are the equivalent of numerous turn-of-the-20th-century ships.)

But Romney's team was just as convinced that the Republican prevailed on style. "The only importance this debate had is it permits people to envision Governor Romney as commander in chief. That was his test," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said. "The president showed up not defending America's position in the world but defending his deteriorated position in the race. I think President Obama came across as someone falling behind in the race."

The debates are over. There are two weeks until Election Day. More than anything, the last debate revealed where the candidates think they stand: Romney confident, convinced he has only to maintain his momentum to keep floating to the top of the polls; Obama fighting like an underdog to stop Romney's rise and knock him off his pedestal. 

I do think that, with a few notable exceptions, the contest is now about who gets their supporters to the polls. To that end, at Houston's third or fourth-most popular (predominantly D) polling place yesterday afternoon -- Fiesta on Kirby at OST -- I waited on queue about an hour to vote. The line moved steadily so the time passed quickly. That was about 15 minutes longer than I waited four years ago at the same location (but I went later in the first week of EV). Update: Archives reveal this post projecting 500,000 total early voters in 2008, and there were actually 730,000 (via Charles). Note there also that turnout on Election Day proper was soft, bringing the total in short of the initial goal of 1.2 million Harris County voters. (There were some recriminations about Obama's campaign posted here with respect to that.)

We'll see how those numbers compare in a couple of weeks. But we all remember how 2008 turned out, right?

Update II: From an e-mail delivered this morning, and in the Chron this afternoon...

(County Clerk) Stan Stanart announced today that Harris County voters set a new record for voting during the first day of Early Voting in person. 47,093 persons voted on Monday, shattering the November 2008 first day total of 39,201. 

Update III: And 51,578 voted today.

Related reading:

Hawks of a Feather Flock Together

Fact check: Romney flubs Middle East geography while Obama gets foe's record as Massachusetts governor wrong

Romney shows he's no expert on foreign policy, but seems to avoid getting knocked out by Obama

And Joe Klein...

I was flipping around the channels, watching the talking heads afterward and saw Chris Wallace — an estimable journalist, in most cases — do something really Fox News reprehensible. He mentioned that a Marine had tweeted that Obama wasn’t in touch because Marines still use bayonets. True enough, but does Wallace really think that bayonets are nearly as important as they were 100 years ago? They certainly haven’t been in my experience in war zones over the past 30 years.

And meanwhile, Romney made the sort of mistake that makes Marines cringe: early on in the debate, he called our troops overseas “soldiers.” That drives Marines up a wall. The Army consists of soldiers. The Marine Corps consists of Marines. Both exist under the umbrella of American troops or forces serving overseas. This distinction has been so noxious to the Army that in recent years, it has capitalized its troops — Soldiers — to match the Marine code. I would guess that Fox News may have gotten a few e-mails about that, unmentioned by Fox.

This may seem petty, but it is part of the other-than-reality-based world of RushFoxland — like the alleged Apology Tour that wasn’t. That world, so far as foreign policy is concerned, came crashing down tonight.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Yeah, you can look at the "who won" number in some poll and try to prognosticate, but look further down in the results and you will find that neither candidate made any real gain in support -- about 1/3 of respondents say they are more likely to vote for Obama/Romney, 1/3 more likely to vote against Obama/Romney, and 1/3 unchanged in their likelihood of voting for Obama/Romney (Question is asked about each candidate separately). The reality, therefore, is that last night's debate is a wash for the two, and that just like the town hall debate and the vice presidential debate, neither candidate has any real gain or loss. The only debate that made a difference? The first, which gave Romney positive momentum that has continued unabated.