Limited commentary this time, partly because I am no expert on foreign policy so there’s no reason you should care about most of my opinions. On the other hand, the candidates had an exceptionally broad definition of foreign policy, which included trade, deficits, unemployment, education, etc. Commentary also limited by the fact that my attention wandered from time to time.
That said, here are my comments, typed in real time, unedited, not carefully thought through, perhaps in some cases ill-advised:
0. Romney in red tie, Obama in blue, as in first debate; this was reversed in the second. I still want to know if they coordinate this.
1. Romney: “Attacking me is not an agenda”. Good rhetorical move.
2. Obama nodding too much. Also blinking more than Romney.
3. Romney, I think, looking more like the grownup.
4. Loose hair on Romney’s forehead is a distraction.
5. Romney finding excuses to bring up the economy, job market, etc. This was inevitable, I guess.
6. Now Obama finding excuses to bring up tax policy. Also unsurprising.
7. And…….Romney talking about unemployment, balanced budgets, road to Greece, etc etc. Maybe they should schedule a fourth debate so they can get to foreign policy.
8. Oh my lord! Romney off on his “small business” fetish again.
9. Obama: “If you talk to teachers, they’ll tell you class sizes make a difference”. Yes, and if you talk to disinterested researchers, many of them will tell you otherwise (or at least that the difference is too small to justify the cost). If you talk to oil execs, they’ll tell you how important it is to subsidize oil, but maybe the folks with skin in the game are not the best sources for this sort of thing.
10. Obama, who threw a trillion dollars at his friends, bailed out his buddies in the auto unions, etc, says that his budgets are not driven by politics. This is gagworthy.
11. And now Romney gets his info on how many ships we need by asking the Navy — much like getting your info on the importance of class size by asking teachers.
12. Obama: “Sure we have fewer ships now. We also have fewer horses and bayonets.” Great great response.
13. Obama: “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked.” I’m not sure: Is this a major new policy being announced here, off the cuff?
14. Romney is starting to look physically uncomfortable.
15. Romney criticizes Obama’s “apology tour”; Obama responds by changing the subject 100%, talking about some other trip he took. Reminds me of four years ago, when Jeremiah Wright was in the news, and people were asking Obama why he hung out with this loon; he responded by giving a speech about slavery.
16. Obama doing a good job of cataloguing apparent Romney flipflops.
17. Obama defending the bin Laden mission on the grounds that the daughter of a 9/11 victim got closure from it. If he’s making foreign policy on the basis of giving “closure” to a few hundred Americans, then he shouldn’t be president.
18. I still think Romney looks pale and ill, and is getting moreso as the evening goes on.
19. Romney given an opportunity to express qualms about extrajudicial killings via drones; chooses to pass.
20. Obama talks about the importance of making sure middle eastern govts “aren’t corrupt”; does this mean, for example, that we don’t want those govts throwing billions at favored industries?
21. Obama complaining about businesses and workers not getting a level playing field when it comes to trade. Dammit, what’s the fetish with level playing fields? If American consumers benefit form an unlevel playing field, why should the American president object?
22. Level playing fields are for sports (where the competition is supposed to entertain), not for economies (where the competition is supposed to serve consumers).
23. There’s been thankfully little China-bashing tonight.
24. Now it’s Romney arguing for leveling the playing field (not in those terms, but his meaning is the same).
25. Okay, Romney is a total idiot. “They sell us more than we sell them, so it’s clear who doesn’t want the trade war”. I would love to see the argument that gets him from one side of that ‘so’ to the other.
26. Obama gets in a cheap shot with “You’ve invested in companies that ship jobs overseas”.
27. Obama is also a total idiot: “If we’d taken your advice, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars from China”. Why would that be bad?
28. Romney re car industry: “Under no circumstances would I fail to help this industry get on its feet”. Then why should we prefer him to Obama?
29. Romney: “I love teachers” repeated a few times, sounds kinda loony.
30. Romney’s closing much less effective, I think, than Obama’s.