For most American viewers, including this one, much of Monday night's presidential debate on foreign policy was conducted as though it were in a foreign language.
References to Mali, to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, missile shields in Poland, "status of forces" agreements — could only have befuddled the voting public.
It's not that the candidates invoked unimportant issues. And it's not that the two held so elevated a conversation mere mortals could not understand. It's that they were debating almost entirely in tone rather than content.
Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:10 pm
Credit Eric Gay / AP
In at least one sense, the final presidential debate of the year looked a lot like the previous ones between Mitt Romney and President Obama.
Regardless of what they were asked, each offered talking points he had prepared and was determined to make. The candidates, not moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News, set both the tone and the pace of the debate.
That included switching gears far from the nominal subject of Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., which was foreign policy. The domestic economy received at least as much attention and verbiage as Iran, Libya or China.
Fact checkers got a shout out Monday night from President Obama when he declared that Republican challenger Mitt Romney had repeated "the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign."
"Every fact checker and every reporter who's looked at it, governor, has said this is not true," the president pointed out — correctly — during Monday's debate after Romney charged that Obama went on an "apology tour" during his first year in office.