As Boca Raton Sleeps: the Final Presidential Debate

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 22 2012 9:00 PM

As Boca Raton Sleeps: the Final Presidential Debate

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- And here we are, one more time. When the debate is over, this group of journalists will break out into a spontaneous dance to "Jai Ho."

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The best pre-debate takes I've seen come from Jeffrey Goldberg, who posts a depressing list of questions that won't be asked, and John Dickerson, who can do no less than great.

9:18: Romney is so much more comfortable talking about the broader Muslim world than talking Mali that you almost wonder whether the long campaign focus on Benghazi was a kind of refuse. The Libya question collapsed into nothingness, as Romney preferred to rebuild his attack on Obama's overall policy as one without "backbone." The Romney foreign policy speech is a list of attacks on Obama decisions that either went pear-shaped or were never made. We're seeing the speech in miniature tonight.

9:38: Did Obama miss a chance to go further with the sequester answer? There's only one man on either ticket who voted for the sequester: Paul Ryan. The only reason the sequester passed was that House Republicans, Ryan included, wanted to use a vote on the debt limit to negotiate cuts to spending. S&P cited that fight, and the GOP's reluctance to raise taxes (reluctance is soft-selling it), as its reason for downgrading the country's credit rating.

Could Obama bring that up? Or does he share too much blame, in the public memory, for the debacle?

9:42: If this "Battleship" zinger goes anyway, recall who directed the movie of the game: Peter Berg. He also directed the film and TV show of Friday Night Lights. This election has been very good to the sort of people who write Slate breakfast tables.

9:55: The "Apology tour" exchange will be a fascinating Rorshach test. Romney—following Karl Rove, I think—seized on the "apology" theme very early in the Obama presidency. It's by no means clear that anyone who didn't dislike Obama for other reasons agree that he apologizes too much for America. If they did, you'd see a lower foreign-policy approval number in polling.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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