You call that a foreign policy debate?
I call it the Big Bore in Boca Raton. I've seen and heard better debates over America's role in the world at my local Irish bar.
If it was indeed about foreign policy, then our next president, whether it's Barack Obama in his second term or Mitt Romney in his first, apparently has a limited and distorted view of the world, not much better than what Sarah Palin could see from her front porch in Alaska.
Sure, fighting Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, keeping al-Qaeda from hijacking the Arab Spring, stopping Syria's deranged president from murdering his own people, preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons, refereeing the never-ending standoff between Israel and the Palestinians, dealing with a resurgent Russia, stopping China from annexing Ohio, and maintaining our military strength are important goals for any American leader.
But all that could have been and should have been discussed in the first hour if Bob Schieffer had used the latter part of the 90-minute debate to ask his two know-it-all combatants if they were aware of a few other things they might have to deal with on the foreign policy front.
Like, for instance, the financial crisis that's threatening to tear the European Union and some of our closest allies apart and undermine the world economy (Spain's financial woes sent the Dow plummeting the next day). Or the tidal wave of heroin and illegal immigrants washing over our southern border from Mexico and Central America? Or what, if anything, we can do to stop the sub-Saharan African continent and failed nations like Haiti and Serbia from sinking back into the Stone Age? Or maybe even if, 50 years after the Cuban missile crisis, either Obama or Romney have any thoughts about how to deal with a post-Castro Cuba?
But instead of using some of the skills that made him a great reporter, Schieffer let Obama and Romney wallow in the morass of the Middle East while trying to pass the commander-in-chief test, claim to be a better friend of Israel and bigger foe of Putin, and prove they would better protect America's interests and values around the world.
I watched the debate with a group of die-hard Democrats in McLean, Va., who cheered Obama at every turn, and I agree that Obama was the clear winner. But even many of them were checking their iPhones and BlackBerries early on, and like me, were ready to change the channel to see the baseball playoff between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
I didn't learn anything new about how either of the candidates view the world, other than Romney's claim that Mali could be the next Afghanistan, and I doubt that anybody else in the room did. And I certainly didn't hear anything to convince me that Romney would be a better president than Obama. I'm just glad there aren't any more debates. It's time to vote.
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