Forget the other debates, including the most recent one. As of late October this is the debate (link below w/Charlie Rose) that really shows the main candidates as they are....
If there's one thing you can trust, it's that mainstream media excerpts from long programs, such as the recent Republican Presidential Debate, will reveal little about what the candidates stand for or think or will do.
But the candidates, under the right conditions, might well reveal this themselves.
A right condition is Charlie Rose (with some nice help from his posse, notably Julianna Goldman).
Watching the full video of the debate (link below), I got a much better sense of Cain, Romney, and Perry than from any excerpts or news articles.
I'm seeing the real Mitt Romney for the first time.
That tells us something about our popular media. They don't do the job.
Mitt Romney, likely to be the nominee, answers a real question (one more difficult than all the others).
If you want to skip to the part I'm discussing in the video linked below, just move the time slider at the bottom of the video to 25 minutes in, where Romney is asked the Question of 2008. Watch for several minutes to get the back and forth:
See video of debate here.
Watching this, we can conclude that like Obama, Romney will do what is necessary.
In fact, I would expect little difference between the two in practice, both day-to-day or on big issues.
Romney will probably even get the same things wrong that Obama has.That's reassuring. Obama has done most things right. Overall, Obama has given us a good performance in an impossible situation.
If the country flips over to Romney, we will not be far worse off (correction: Romney has a much worse sense of what military power is, dangerously so). Obama or Romney are the best choices at this point. Given that choice, I'd have to hear more from both. They're that close, that similar.
Let me point out something obvious though, in answer to one of Romney's main rhetorical points about Obama having no experience were it counts....
Obama is now the most experienced. He will have served four years in an extremely educational environment if one is willing to learn, and Obama is someone who learns.
(For those curious about Perry, the bit with Reagan on taxes is after the 34 minute mark. Of course, Reagan raised taxes many times. More, Presidents don't really control economic growth, neither do voters rely on economic growth as the sole deciding factor in reelections. LBJ had the best job growth of the last 50 years, followed by Carter.... That the economy will decide the election is another in a string of over simplifications repeated by the same pundits we've seen for years. Most popular analysis, and most political analysis of all stripes, is inventive, with little effort to compare to history unless a convenient quote aligns with the ideology being espoused. The political analysts are especially misleading when discussing anything related to economics, such as deficits, the economy or job creation.)
Romney's naive characterization of our withdrawal from Iraq, where American military occupation is imagined to be the foundation of democracy (hmmm....how did Tunisia manage without us?):
“Today’s announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen. In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies. We will now have fewer troops in Iraq than we have in Honduras - despite a costly and protracted war.
“President Obama’s decision represents the end of the era of America’s influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran’s influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure. The administration claims that we got exactly what we needed, but today’s announcement demonstrates otherwise. The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues. I call on the president to return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world.”Now, we can no longer imagine Romney's rhetoric about maintaining military "superiority" is only playing to the base, as it now is readily apparent Romney has an unrealistic sense of what of military power is and can do. An unreal notion that frankly would be threatening to U.S. security were he President.