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October 28, 2012 11:34 am

The Zingers and Come-Backs Romney Declined to Use in the Debate

avatar by Michael Widlanski


Expressions from the third presidential candidates' debate, focused on Middle East policy.

Don’t be depressed. Please.

Right now,  you may be a bit concerned about the presidential debates, particularly the last two, which did not produce the kind of deep probing of the Obama foreign policy we expected.  After  Mitt Romney clearly dominated  Barack Obama  in the first contest. So, you may have suffered a let-down.

But don’t be blue:  take heart in a new comprehensive poll by Rasmussen that shows most people still think Romney won the three debates, perhaps because many people are beginning to understand that what the Obama Administration has been peddling as the truth about terror in Libya and the rest of the world just is not the truth.

“Overall, thinking of all three debates, who won the debates – Mitt Romney or President Obama?” Rasmussen asked a sample of 919 voters, and the results were 49% for Romney and 41% for Obama.

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Or if you somehow allowed yourself to be convinced by The New Yorker magazine that Obama “bayoneted” Romney with his retort about cavalry, bayonets and submarines to Romney’s assertion that America needed to  maintain a strong navy, don’t worry, be happy.

Yes, it’s true Romney did not pursue Obama on the obvious lies and half-truths of terror attacks in Libya and other Arab countries, but Romney’s job is not to entertain us or to take out all our angst on Obama.

Romney already proved that he could take Obama apart—as he did in the first debate. He also showed how to use humor devastatingly  when he roasted Obama at the Al Smith dinner in New York last week, offering a ten-minute monologue that made Jay Leno and David Letterman (who sometimes seem to work for Obama) envious. Go back and watch it: Romney was pitch-perfect for ten minutes.

So, if you still feel the need to argue back against Obama, here are some lines that Romney and his team clearly could have used, but, in the end, felt were not really necessary.

1. Set-up: Obama brags about killing Bin-Laden

Come-back 1A:

It’s nice you care about the environment so that you recycle old news when you don’t have good news.

Come-back 1B:

If we had a dollar for every time you gave yourself credit, Mr. President,  we’d already be out of debt.

Come-back 1C

Patting ourselves on the back for yesterday is not the way to prepare for tomorrow.

Come-back 1D

Mr. President we salute you and our valiant forces for getting Osama Bin-Laden, but our arms are tired already, and we need them to defend against tomorrow’s threats.

Come-back 1E

You and Joe Biden spend  your time on bumper stickers. Instead, make policy, not slogans.

2. Set-up: Obama brags about being a great foreign policy maker and being  loved abroad

Come-back 2A:

You bragged about a dramatic “re-start” in relations with Russia, but the Russians laughed at you and your team for not even knowing how to write “re-start” in Russian.

Come-back 2B:

At the Al Smith dinner you told some  jokes, hinting I was jealous of your popularity  among our allies. That’s news to most of the world. From what I know of your reputation among Israelis, Poles,  Czechs, Ukrainians, the Iranian dissidents, they are not laughing at the way you often let them down.

Come-back 2C

But maybe your were talking about someone else. The Russian leaders, the Iranian ayatollahs and the Chinese all seem to want to do business with you. Maybe that’s why you whispered to Dimitri Medvedev that after the elections you would be very “flexible.”

3. Set-up: Obama brags about dealing with Iran

Come-back 3A:

Your sensitivity on the Iran issue was shown when you and your staff held a gala meeting at the White House for Iranian activists who support the Iranian regime the day after Iran and Hizballah launched a terror attack on Israeli tourists.

Come-back 3B:

Please be serious. Don’t deny it. The New York Times even quoted a senior White House official as saying that the Iranian attack was “tit for tat” Israel allegedly trying to stop Iran’s atomic program.

America and Israel:

Mr. Obama,  when you came into office you began by pushing Israel around, because you fundamentally never understood the American-Israeli connection. As John Kennedy once said, America is a “nation of immigrants.” So is Israel.

America and Israel are both countries based on ideas. America is based on the rule of law and democracy, and so is Israel. Indeed, some of our founders suggested that the Ten Commandments or the Israelites crossing the sea be the symbol ofAmerica.

YOU  pretend that you are the staunchest defender of Israel and its security, but you wanted to dictate that Israel give up defensible borders and return to the indefensible lines of 1949

YOU  pretend that you are the staunchest defender of Israel, but your record of casting votes for Israel at the UN is the same as that of Jimmy Carter—one veto in four years. That is hardly a badge of honor.

Zingers from the Start

Mr. Obama, you are exceptionally bad at setting American foreign policy because you do not really recognize what is exceptional about America.   Perhaps that is why you spend so much time apologizing.

America is a country that stands for an idea, not just a territory with a language. We try to be, as the ancient prophets said, a light unto the nations. We try to be a role model, not a conqueror. We stand for democracy, for free choice, for free markets, for free movement.

Thank God we have won our major wars, but we do not try to hold on to territory. We helped rebuild Japan and Germany, and we withdrew from those lands. Compare that to the record of the countries with whom you have so failingly sought to “engage.”

Let’s be proud to be Americans. Let us never apologize for being special.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by  Threshold/Simon and Schuster. An ex-reporter for The New York Times and the Cox Newspapers, he was  Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.

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