After a first debate in which he looked sluggish, and a second in which he appeared almost manic, President Obama seemed finally to find a happy medium in the third debate. Unfortunately, despite his improved tone, much of what the president had to say was, once again:
For example, President Obama denied that he had sought an agreement with the Iraqi government to have U.S. troops remain in Iraq to train Iraqi forces. The exchange went as follows:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s not true.
MR. ROMNEY: Oh, you didn’t ??? you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No…
In fact, Obama did try to negotiate a new status of forces agreement ???that would have kept a small American force in Iraq to train the Iraqi military and patrol the country???s skies,??? but, according to the New York Times, Obama’s ???bid to keep about 5,000 American troops in place failed.???
Although this debate was supposed to be about foreign policy, Romney exploited the opportunity to discuss issues ranked by voters this election cycle as even more important ??? the economy and jobs: The mantle of leadership for ???promoting the principles of peace,??? has fallen to the United States, said Romney, adding, ???for us to be able to promote those principles of peace requires us to be strong. And that begins with a strong economy here at home,??? which he said would require that ???we finally get off this spending and borrowing binge.???
Obama responded that Romney’s call for spending restraint would mean a return to the economic policies of George W. Bush, ???those kinds of strategies that got us into this mess ??? the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first place, ??? including ???record deficits and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.???
There’s more misinformation packed into this charge than can be unpacked in a single column (starting with Obama’s bizarre implication that the Bush tax cuts caused the housing bubble!), but most glaring is the suggestion that Obama’s anemic economy is the result of too much spending restraint on the part of Bush.
In fact, Bush’s economic policy was not marked by any kind of austerity, but by profligate spending, averaging $2.6 trillion per year. Yet Obama doubled down on this Bush policy, spending an average of nearly $3.7 trillion per year ??? 40 percent more than Bush every year ??? increasing the national debt 60 percent in just three years. If anyone is following Bush’s spending policies, it’s Obama.
Getting specific on domestic issues, Romney turned to education, recounting that when he was governor of Massachusetts, he instituted a program under which students who ???graduated in the top quarter of their class … got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.???
Obama responded, ???That happened ??? that happened before you came into office.???
In fact, as the Boston Globe reported, in 2004 Romney ???established the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, which gives four years of public college tuition to students who score in the top quarter in their districts on a state standardized test.???