Thoughts on the Third Presidential Debate

I just finished watching the 3rd Presidential Debate. Not surprisingly, it didn’t change my choice of candidate, but I do have some observations to share, in no particular order. This is, in a sense, a followup to my post on the 2nd Debate (“What I Wished They Had Said“), my Observations on the 1st Debate, and my observations on the VP debate.

  • I was very pleased to see the President come out in favor of space, cybersecurity, and the importance of basic research.
  • I noticed a number of very telling things regarding the American economy. The President constantly referred to reducing the deficit, when he likely meant reducing the debt. They are different things: the deficit is the measure of how much money we need to borrow each year; the debt is what we owe. On the other hand, Romney referred to reducing the debt, and talked about achieving it through a balance budget. Wrong. A balanced budget only means you are not increasing the debt; you need to run a budget surplus to actually reduce the debt.
  • In general, Romney’s foreign policy appeared to be to do the same as what the President is doing. Every time he described his policy, it was usually an echo.
  • Gov. Romney appears to think that when America talks, other nations immediately kow-tow. The reason sanctions and coalitions take so long to build is that each nation is working for what it sees as its interest, not just to please America. These different agendas is why all the things America thinks other nations should do don’t always happen in the way we want. This is the distinction between a coalition builder (the President), and an businessman (who wants his own way).
  • Gov. Romney keeps talking and talking about cutting government programs, yet increasing the number of jobs. He seems to think that government is this abstract thing for which cuts only benefit people. He forgets that the government is the nation’s largest employer, and the government cutbacks and programmatic cutbacks means government personnel and contractor personnel are put out of work. Thus, Gov. Romney really wants to increase unemployment of government and contractor workers, and doesn’t have a plan to put them back to work.
  • Gov. Romney appears to live in the past, where more ships and tanks and airplanes make a stronger military. He forgets the leveraging effect of technology, such that one of today’s naval vessels is significantly more effective than a 1914 ship, how a single aircraft of today is more effective than a WWI aircraft, and how new technology, such as drones, are significantly more cost effective and do not put troops in harms way. He also forgets that with more equipment comes greater maintenance and logistic support costs.
  • Gov. Romney talks about wanting to encourage moderate Muslims in the region. I’m pleased that he recognizing that moderate Muslims do exist and that not all Muslims are extremists (something that many in his party seem to forget). Still, this is difficult to do when America has a history of not being respectful of different cultures in the region. I did not see Romney propose any initiatives that would demonstrate that Americans will be respectful of non-Christian religions. For example, did he propose working to shut down initiatives that attempt to expand Christianity in Muslim countries? I didn’t hear anything.
  • Romney kept talking about us being four years closer to a nuclear Iran. What he hasn’t said, however, is anything specifically that he would have done differently to prevent it. He also talked about Syria being Iran’s path to the sea, so he obviously doesn’t understand the region.

In general, with respect to foreign policy, it appeared that Romney wanted to simply continue what Obama has done. If that’s the case, why change?

As a reminder, you can find my positions on all the ballot candidates and propositions here (state propositions), here (federal offices), and here (state and local offices and local measures).