In my view, Barack Obama is one step closer to going back to the White House for a second term following yesterday's last presidential debate.
The debate, mainly focused on foreign policy, saw the two men take very similar positions on almost everything to do with foreign policy. It's evident from the debate that Democrats and Republicans are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to foreign and national security policy.
There were only minor differences in policy tone. On Iran, for example, the two only differed over the timeline they would stick to with regard to a possible attack on that country. If Mitt Romney takes the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it will practically be the first half of next year. If Obama gets another term, it may be mid next year and only after all diplomatic avenues have been exhausted.
On the military, Obama and Romney both want to spend more but the extent and level of the proposed spending was disputed. The current Commander-in-Chief, for example, outlined how he had spent more on the military, even in the midst of a prolonged recession. Romney, meanwhile, wants to spend $2 trillion more on the military in the next four years. Either way, that's still a lot of money - think of what even half that money could do if spent on health, education, social security, economic development or agriculture?
I never fail to be amazed by how much money the US (and other larger nations like China) spend on defence.
And the fact that these debates involve only the two main parties mean that Americans are cheated of hearing other perspectives. This is the case as US Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested outside the presidential debate venue when they tried to secure peaceful entry on Monday night (US time). Her arrest is one more sign that the US electoral system is stacked in favour of the two main parties (Republican and Democrat) at every level.
That's why most Americans, realistically, face a "choice" between Obama and Romney. If I were American, my heart would be with the Greens or another independent left wing party (if they were running a ticket) but given that the system is stacked against third parties of all stripes, my head would be with Obama. As I have said before, Obama is more preferable to Romney, personally likable and has done some things which I personally approve of (like run a neo-Keynesian stimulus plan) and extend health care coverage to more Americans.
That's why I was anxious to see Obama come through the second and third debates after his trouncing in the first. On debating points, I agree with most commentators that the president came through very well. His answer to Romney's charge on the number of naval ships being on a par to that last seen in 1916 was classic. Obama came through aggressively throughout and, in my view, kept Romney just running to keep up. Also, Romney rambled on a bit during the closing statement whereas Obama had a succinct and polished closing.
On that basis, Obama, while not yet home and dry, will experience a last minute and much needed bounce. This will give him enough Electoral College and popular votes to see him narrowly home on November 6.
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