Sunday, October 21, 2012

What Obama can do in the debate: paint Romney 's foreign policy as bully, bluster, and blunder

What Pres. Obama can do in the debate Oct. 22 on foreign policy is to paint Romney as the one most likely to bully,  bluster and blunder  us into another war, keep us in Afghanistan longer, and result some politically intolerable cuts in domestic spending that will extremely harmful to all of us in some way.

 While most of Romney's official positions as outlined in op eds and speeches lately,  sound as if he differs only from Obama's policy to speak softly while carrying (and using) a big stick is by speaking loudly about the same.  That is a dangerous perception: Chest thumping and rhetoric is not a plan.  In fact, it might even talk the American public into approving the US getting  into a conflict in which we have either no direct interest or could get us in a quagmire: i.e. an Iraq blunder again.  The same group that talked us into Iraq is the same that is advising Romney on foreign policy.

Obama can make the point that Romney's brand of leadership is bluster leading to blunder. What is going on in the Middle East is a revolt of the next generation,  and the lid taken off of ethnic/religious  conflict that had been suppressed by dictators now deposed,  and a power struggle to fill the vacuum, forces beyond our control.  What it takes is an understanding of this to come out on the right side.  Shaking the big stick would be counter productive and shows Romney's inexperience.  His views are dangerous.  not only because they will make enemies where we need to make friends, but it will more likely lead us into war again and a drain on our economy and damaging to our future.

Romney has already made it clear that he views withdrawal from Afghanistan conditional on what is happening on the ground; Obama has stood by withdrawal the end of 2014 (while leaving some troops there) and made the case that waffling on the date would keep Afghanistan dependent on us instead of becoming responsible for their own security.

To rationalize this bully policy of bluster,, Romney plans to increase US expenditures for the Pentagon by $2 trillion over 10 years.  Not even the oft criticized Paul Ryan budget went that far as financier Steve Rattner, writing in the New York Times Oct. 14,points  out. He continues..
 .." the military is not asking for such an increase. Such an increase would force giant reductions, about 40 percent, in everything that’s left.
“Everything else” isn’t some catchall of small items, like feeding Big Bird. We’re talking about a vast array of programs including civilian and military pensions, food stamps, unemployment and disability compensation, the earned income and child tax credits, family support and nutrition, K-12 education, transportation, public safety and disaster relief. And on and on....No doubt some of what is buried within 'other mandatory and non defense discretionary spending' can be eliminated. Perhaps Americans won’t miss a few national parks or the space program.But also nestled within this category are critical outlays for investments in infrastructure and research.Eating the seed corn is never advisable....."

What Obama needs to do in the debate  is to get off the defensive posture regarding accusations of  leading from behind and misfires on BenGhazi and force the conversation to turn to an attack on Romney's bully, bluster, and blunder foreign policy. Romney would be the bull in the china closet.  Obama must put Romney on the defensive enough to shake voters' confidence in  Romney as a safe and preferable commander in chief. The case is there to be made.

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