Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did Mitt Romney Lose The Second Debate?

Did Mitt Romney lose the second presidential debate with Barack Obama?

For me, Mitt Romney not so much as outright lost to Obama as that he gave away the initiative to the president and failed to come out when he should have had especially on the Libya question.

While the president was talking on the Libya question, Mitt Romney was trying to look suitably contrite. And that was a mistake.

Somehow I knew, looking at Romney's face, that he wouldn't and wasn't prepared to engage with Obama on Libya for fear of appearing unbecoming and looking like playing politics where the lives of Americans were at stake.

And so, sure enough, Romney only nit-picked on whether the president did or not say that what had happened at the Libyan embassy was a terrorist attack.

Romney should have said that first, he  commiserated with family of the Libyan envoy and the families of the other three embassy officials killed in the attack on the embassy.

That their deaths were unnecessary but for the Obama administration's failure to take the security of the Libyan embassy seriously.

That there had been a gross failure of the Obama administration to provide the additional security that had in fact been asked for, a fact that the secretary of state herself, Hilary Clinton, had later admitted.

That there must have been an intelligence lapse too for the Obama administration's failure to foresee and forestall the attack.

That the Obama administration (which much include the State Department surely?) were really in sixes and sevens and this was why it had taken some 14 days after the attack for the administration to come out with some coherent statement on it whether or not Obama himself might have had used the phrase "terrorist act" a day after to describe what had happened at the Libyan embassy.

That all of this showed the Obama administration's incompetence although of course Romney himself believed that the president had no doubt considered the security and safety of their consular staff as of paramount importance.

That the Obama administration had been too softy-softy in its eagerness to engage with the international Muslim community and that that might have had emboldened some parties.

That instead of profusely apologising for and condemning the maker of the movie that had allegedly angered and insulted Islam and the Prophet, the president should have made it very clear that his administration, and the United States, would not tolerate any party or country who would use religion as a pretext for revenge and killing innocent people whatever and however grievous the provocation. And that this applied not only to Islam but to any other religion as well.

But to me, Romney had early on lost the initiative when he turned to the president and tried to get the latter to admit that the president himself also had business investments in China, instead of straightway engaging the question that had been asked him by one of the 80 undecided voters in the audience.

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