Romney Peacenik

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Tue, 2012-10-23 03:26 -- John Batchelor
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spoke Mona Charen, Mary Kissel, Salena Zito, Lara Brown, David Drucker, Brett Arends, Bill Roggio, Arif Rafiq, John Fund, Gordon Chang, Reza Kahlili, Kori Schake, Gene Countrymen in re the final presidential debate and learned that the general opinion was the Mr. Romney presented a careful, measured, quiet, pacific demeanor in comparison to Mr. Obama's strident, accusatory, argumentative, sometimes slashing style.   Why did Mr. Obama choose to go on the offensive? An answer that is repeated elsewhere of weight is that Mr. Obama knows he is trailing in the polls and sinking in the Electoral College, and he knows to make up ground he must rock his opponent.  Neither candidate said anything new tonight; both repeated campaign lines and criticisms they had made of each other before.  And yet Mr. Obama aimed at Mr. Romney as if he could knock him from the field with barbs and disdain.  Mr. Romney arrived with a strategy of passive aggression: he aimed to present himself as plausible and peaceable.  The mistake he aimed to avoid was to appear or sound warlike in any fashion that would allow Mr. Obama to connect Romney to the Bush administration, 2001-2009.  Romney not only achieved his modest aim -- Mitt Romney Peacenik --  but also he presented pieces of the economic vision for his candidacy  -- twelve million jobs, reducing deficits to avoid becoming like Greece --that the president has not yet answered with the Obama second term vision.  Foreign policy does not change votes unless you make a foreign policy mistake that undermines credibility or suggests instability.  Mr. Romney avoided mistakes and overstatements.  Cleverly, Mr. Romney moved some of the conversation back to the domestic economy where he believes Mr. Obama is losing his mandate; however Mr. Romney chattered about the disappointment of the last four years in a sober, pensive, resigned way, not ever sounding accusatory to the president.  The evening displayed the magic of role reversal.  I asked all my guests, "Who is the challenger?" and routinely they answered, "The president."  World turned upside down.