October 23, 2012
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The Romney camp is in damage control mode after President Obama scored a debate victory so resounding, that even a Fox News contributor acknowledged “President Obama won the debate on knowledge of the issues.” But the clear competency of the President isn’t stopping the Romney camp and its allies from coming out swinging, trying to spin everything from Obama’s speaking patterns to that pesky bayonet issue. So far, the only gaffe the right seems unwilling to defend is the existence of Iran’s 1,100 miles coastline, which Romney denied last night when he said that Syria was Iran’s access to the sea. Beachfront-access aside, here’s a roundup of the most desperate attempts to reframe the debate.
Bonus question: Can you guess how many rely on a flawed understanding of history?
1. The Oceans Haven’t Shrunk!
It’s not usually national news when some guy doesn’t get a joke. But apparently that doesn't apply if that person is Paul Ryan, who told CBS this morning that he didn’t get Obama’s horses and bayonets zinger.
"To compare modern American battleships and Navy with bayonets, I just don't understand that comparison," Ryan said.
Everyone else seemed able to comprehend the President’s line, “Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” which he fired at Mitt Romney after the candidate lamented that we’d have fewer U.S. naval ships than before WWI if the proposed defense spending cuts go through. By the time the debate ended, #horsesandbayonets was the third most-trending hashtag on Twitter.
Ryan apparently realized shortly after his admission that the line was a joke, because he then decided to fire back one of his own.
True--although this has nothing to do with Obama’s point, which was that the advancement of military technology has rendered foreign policy more nuanced than “a game of Battleship.” However, Ryan’s comment does betray a more accurate grasp of geography than his running mate’s Iran coastline statement, so,that’s a start.
Plus, as Jon Stewart worried on Twitter after Obama’s bayonet comment, the line could have cost him at least a handful of voters, who more likely than not do in fact live in Ohio.
“Obama just lost the Civil War re-enactment vote. #horsesandbayonets,” he tweeted.
2. Gracious McCain?
Other members of the Republican party understood the President’s comments last night, but took offense to the way that he was “bullying” poor Mitt. Former presidential candidate John McCain, in particular, came out to complain that Obama’s comebacks were making him appear “unlikeable” and “unpresidential.”
“I never did that to the community organizer about his experience back in 2008,” McCain said, regarding his own race against Obama for the White House in 2008. “Maybe I should’ve, although I never would’ve,” he added.
Not so fast. During the 2008 race, McCain frequently derided then-candidate Obama for being “naive” and “green” on foreign policy issues.
“Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate...?” McCain asked in February 2008. By that summer, CNN declared
that McCain’s foreign policy speeches were “peppered with attacks on Obama.”
Perhaps the McCain was banking on the idea that reporters wouldn’t take the time to fact-check a former candidate.
3. SNARK WEAK!
Speaking of short attention spans, Fox News came out this morning as the defender of “Fair and Balanced” journalism, and also took issue with the debate’s verbal sparring. In a cringe-inducing pun, Fox’s website proclaimed this week “SNARK WEAK!”
When Fox News’ website looks like it's rerunning the headlines from The New York Post and “too snarky” is the best criticism that Fox can muster of Obama, you know the institutional right is scrambling.
4. King Louis XIV-Obama?
Luckily, the entirety of the right-wing establishment wasn’t caught off guard by Obama’s passionate debate performance. Karl Rove was ready with his own rapid-fire historical zinger for President Obama. In a Fox News editorial entitled, “Romney presented himself as Commander in Chief, Obama came off as Louis XIV,” the GOP mob boss proceeded to explain, in what can only be described as unnecessarily verbose and convoluted language, how we must reevaluate our understanding of winning and losing in last night’s debate to take into account the fact that Obama came off looking like the famous French warmonger and 15th-century king Louis XIV.
Good question. Let us peek inside the editorial,
shall we? According to Rove, “We look at these debates principally when it comes to effecting our vote at the attitude, tone and sense of the debate and we also look at it in terms of the specifics of the debate.”
Right. His point, as he makes it clear a few paragraphs later, is that he thought Obama came off as looking “a little pompous,” which then led him to conclude that Obama was like “Louis XIV masquerading as the President of the United States.”
For those wondering if there are actually any historical parallels between the two leaders, here’s Louis’ wikipedia page.
But the answer is not really.
5. When All Else Fails ... Blame the Ladies
Finally, after invoking the ocean size, revisionist histories, juvenile puns and (curiously) Louis XIV, the GOP fell back on its tried and true attack approach: blame the women. Larry J. Sabato, the director of the right-leaning Center for Politics at University of Virginia, took to Twitter to complain that Obama had mentioned women at least three times during the debate.
“Obama has mentioned women rights 3 or 4 times in foreign context. Are women a key part of his coalition? Could that be it?” @LarrySabato wrote.
No wonder he’s been called “America’s favorite political scientist” by Fox News. Let’s be careful not to tell him that Obama’s Secretary of State is --gasp--a woman.