Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Last Debate

On the 50th anniversary of the Monday evening in 1962 when JFK broke the news of the Cuban Missile Crisis to an anxious nation, his 9th successor and wanna-be 10th successor fought it out on TV together one more time. 
So addicted are we now to politics as entertainment that the first reaction of some was that the debate was boring. Of course, foreign policy ought to be boring in that - now as in 1962 - it deals with serious stuff. But, yes, it was also boring in that the two candidates used their time to rehash their standard talking-points. And, in an election in which it is widely believed that voters are motivated primarily about the economy, neither could resist the opportunity to change the subject back to his domestic agenda - or to the critique of the opponent's domestic agenda.
And, of course, Governor Romney repeated his counter-factual, nonsense-jingle about President Obama's "apology tour." Each side has its predictable applause lines that cheer up its base voters - regardless of relevance. Perhaps when this is all over both guys should go on an "apology tour" expressing contrition to the American people for the vacuous tedium of their talking-points when so many serious matters really are at stake in this election.
Perhaps it is true that the voters aren't that interested in foreign policy. Perhaps that's all part of the same syndrome that causes Americans not to learn foreign languages and to expect everything everywhere in the world to be done in English. But foreign affairs are important - and never more so than in this inter-connected, "globalized" age. The threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon may nto be quite on the same scale as Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, but it's up there in seriousness. Whoever is president on January 20 will face many challenges both to our own national security and that of our allies (especially Israel), not to mention the long-term challenges to craft a functional balance of power in the world that can maintain an effective degree of international order and facilitate addressing global threats like climate change.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was boring. For exactly the reason you stated--that I could have recited their responses myself. There was nothing new, no surprises. They can't even say the same old things in a new or different way.