Thoughts on the 3rd Presidential Debate

Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Economy, Personal Finance, Politics, Stock Market | 2 comments

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that’s over with. We’re in the home stretch now with only two more weeks until the general election. Then we’ll have two whole years until the machinery cranks back up again for the next one.

Let me start by saying that sitting presidents have a major advantage when it comes to a debate on foreign policy because unlike their opponents, they can run on what they’ve actually done, rather than on what they say they’ll do. And as we all know, it’s much easier to be a Monday morning quarterback than to actually put troops in harm’s way. They also get to call themselves the Commander-in-Chief, as Obama did a few times.

That being said, I’d say President Obama had the slight edge although Mr. Romney didn’t cause himself any harm. I found that the candidates had shared much fundamental common ground and had to look for specific areas in which they differed. They also both spent a lot of time pandering to the Jewish/Israeli vote. Each one claimed to be Israel’s best friend. It got a little sickening after a while.

Romney started the debate trying to take the high road but Obama quickly went on the attack, after which Romney retorted that “attacking me is not an agenda”. I thought that was a good line on his part. I thought Romney also made a great statement when he said that it is America’s role in the world to defend freedom and promote the principle of rights, freedom, etc. and that we must be strong to lead. His other good soundbite came when he said “America has not dictated to other nations, it has freed nations from dictators”. I wonder who wrote that for him?

Obama blamed Romney for “wrong and reckless policies” and tried to associate him with Bush and Cheney, which is time we’d all like to forget.

Romney said he would pay for his increase in the defense budget by eliminating Obamacare and other (unnamed) unnecessary programs. Obama rightly pointed out that the math simply didn’t add up and that we’re already spending more than the next largest 10 countries combined and that he’s increased the budget every year in office. Obama kept pointing out that Romney wants to increase the budget when the military leaders haven’t even asked for the increase. Obama clearly won that argument.

Obama also scored points by rightly pointing out that Al Qaeda is weaker now than when he entered office. That is simply inarguable.

I also loved it when Obama quipped that Romney kept “trying to airbrush history” when referring to Romney’s position on letting Detroit go bankrupt during the financial collapse in 2008. The speechwriter who came up with that one should get a raise.

They each went on to talk tough about China and what they’re doing or what they’d do to bring big bad China to heel. The reality is that there is little they can do or will do. We cannot dictate economic policy to China as they are our largest creditor and our largest supplier of goods. We’re lucky China continues to trade their goods for our declining currency.

Again, no new policies or character traits were revealed. Each candidate stuck closely to their well rehearsed platforms and tried whenever possible to steer the discussion back to the domestic economy and their rivals failings. It was decent theater; nothing more.

Before I finish this I’d like to share an interesting theory being discussed today on CNBC as the market plunged almost 250 points. There is a thought floating around that a win by Romney would be bad for the stock market because he would likely replace Fed Chief Bernanke with someone less inclined to continue the current policy of quantitative easing. And if that’s the case, that could precipitate a dramatic plunge in the market as the punch bowl will have been taken away. I’m not sure if this is a valid premise or not, but it’s food for thought.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on the 3rd Presidential Debate”

  1. Mike Dardano says:

    Hey Greg,

    You have some good insights here. The problem with foreign affairs and the Mideast in particular is that the US, no matter how strong we are at home cannot dictate our will as much as say, after World War II. Even then, we had to confront the Soviets and not blow the world up. The Mideast is a quagmire for any nation that thinks they can control the events over there, Just look what happened to the British, French, Ottoman Turks and the Romans. We are talking about hatred and feuds that go back to the dawn of civilization. This is not like the Hatfields and McCoys mini-series.

    The pandering to Israel is very annoying. It was a contest on who can love them more. Here is the crux of the problem (in my view). The Arab states are a mess. Even if Israel didn’t exist, they would still be a mess. They like to use the US/West and Israel to blame all their problems within their society. If the West, the US (not so much now), China and India we not buying their oil – There would be nothing going on in most of those countries.

    We need a strategy that enables us to become as energy independent as we can. Therefore, their supply of oil is not that important to us. Let China keep the Straits of Hormuz open with their one new aircraft carrier.

    Once we do that, we can stop playing both sides of the issue. We could back Israel 100% and stop giving no stings attached money to countries that hate us. We would not have to invade anyone because we have our own energy. We would have more military flexibility in the region ( to go after terrorists) because oil could not be held as a weapon against us anymore. If the Chinese thought that the oil was going to go to $200 a barrel, they might stop dragging their feet and back us up once in awhile. Russia wouldn’t care because they would make more money, but you see what I mean. Right now, everything we do in the Mideast is based on oil, no matter what they say about freedom and all that nonsense. It is about economics. If our foreign policy was based on freedom, we would have invaded South Africa during Apartheid or we would be in Mali going after the Islamic insurgents that are destroying that country. Or in Rwanda when their was genocide going on in the 90s. As we know, that didn’t happen, there was no oil. Just a few diamonds and some gold in South Africa…

  2. Brian McDonald says:

    Airbrushing is so 20th century. It’s all about photoshop now!

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