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'Me Too' Mitt

Posted: 23/10/2012 12:45

Overthrowing Libyan dictator Gadhafi? Me too! Crippling sanctions against Iran? Me too! Timetable for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan? Me too! Targeted killing of terrorists with unmanned drones? Me too!

With his "me too" refrain in last night's last debate, the guy who reminds us of an America bygone, the one where teenagers collected 45s of their favorite songs, sounded like a broken record. You might have thought the man running to become the 45th president of the United States would have come to Boca Raton with a song of his own, but Romney's 45 was playing music recorded by President 44. Over and over the challenger tried to reassure us, humming the night away with the melody of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

Like presidential campaigns, foreign policy is all about strategy. Watching the debate last night you had to wonder what strategy Romney was pursuing. Most Americans give the president pretty strong marks on his foreign policy. And when Romney tried during the second debate to target the president's handling of the terrorist attacks on the American Consulate in Benghazi he ended up shooting himself in the foot. So maybe he decided there just wasn't much to be gained in attacking the president on specifics? The goal behind "me too" was probably limited to placing Mitt in the foreign policy mainstream.

Mainstream Mitt? Without a record of his own, we just don't know. But if you are looking for the foreign policy mainstream, don't visit the Romney website. At least 17 of the "special advisors" he lists come from the same group of neoconservatives who got us into Iraq (and wish we were still there), support torture in the global war on terror, and regularly call on the United States to pack its bags and leave the United Nations.

I'm not one to think in terms of nightmares, but the thought of former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton returning to the State Department has no doubt led to an increase in the sales of sleep medication in Foggy Bottom. After all, only a few months ago Bolton defended Representative Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) call for the U.S. government to investigate government employees -- including a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who she alleges are affiliated with a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. Did I hear somebody say "crack pot?"

Even scarier is the thought of Cofer Black whispering into Romney's ear. Unknown to most Americans, Black was one of the most important figures in the Bush administration's use of shoddy social science to back up the use of torture as a means of detainee interrogation. He was also a central figure in the murky practice of rendition; turning over undocumented prisoners to foreign governments that were willing to administer torture even more extreme than what the Bush administration allowed in US run prisons in Guantanamo and Afghanistan.

Barack Obama was of course right to set the record straight and to point out that Mitt Romney has been on almost every side of every issue. But we already knew that. And the president scored a direct hit during the exchange over size of the US Navy: "You mention the Navy, for example, and the fact that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets." But does the American electorate really care what the candidates think about foreign policy? Does it matter what they think?

For the future of the United States and the world the answer is clear enough. For the outcome of this election, I have my doubts.

 
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