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October 23. 2012 11:22PM

Obama's debates: Where was the beef?

The presidential debates are over and they might well have changed America’s opinion of Barack Obama. What America saw in its President was not a statesman who confidendtly deflected his challenger’s criticisms with the shield of truth, but a politician who dodged, prevaricated, misled and slung mud — all behaviors this President once said he stood firmly against.

In the first debate, Obama was nearly absent save for the plodding, desperate misrepresentations on which he relied. In the second debate, Obama tried sophomorically to enlist Big Bird to do his fighting for him. And finally on Monday night Obama pulled out juvenile zingers, such as responding to Mitt Romney’s views on Russia by saying that the 1980s were “calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

The Russia quip was incredibly telling. Romney’s position is that Russia is, as he put it, a major “geopolitical foe” that is actively undermining our interests around the world and in the United Nations, and as such it must be confronted, not trusted. This is so obviously true that it cannot be refuted. The President, unable to defend his supine reactions to Russia’s advancements upon the world stage, resorts to paraphrasing a “Seinfeld” routine.

As Romney was able to show in each debate, Obama has a dismal record on every subject. The economy? Gas prices? The debt? Our national security? On all of them, Obama is campaigning not on his record, but on vague promises of what he will do in his second term. Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead. But al-Qaida is resurgent and China, Russia and Iran are expanding their influence while our strength and influence wane. Even the Taliban are emboldened.

In three debates, Mitt Romney effectively made his point: How much progress have we actually made in the last four years? The American people know that the answer lies between “very little” and “none at all,” depending on the subject. When their President insists otherwise, but offers little more than zingers and personal attacks to back up his claim, it diminishes him, the nation and the hope that we can ever get out of this mess while he remains in charge.

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