How Will the Candidates Ignore the Foreign Policy Questions and Talk About What They Want?

How Will the Candidates Ignore the Foreign Policy Questions and Talk About What They Want?

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 22 2012 2:31 PM

How Will the Candidates Ignore the Foreign Policy Questions and Talk About What They Want?

Remember, True Believers: Tonight's debate is supposed to be narrowly tailored in six categories, each of them 15 minutes long. They are:

* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World...
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Okay, that's actually five categories. But how can the candidates ignore them?

1) They don't need a pretext. In the final 2008 debate, John McCain first mentioned "Joe the Plumber" in response to a question about whether his economic recovery plan would work, and mentioned him again when asked this question: "Given the current economic situation, would either of you now favor controlling health care costs over expanding health care coverage?"

2) If they want pretexts, try this: "Admiral Mullen has said that the greatest threat to our national security is the national debt." That quote gives Romney a magic ticket to take any round back to economics, and back to the debt, where -- though his math is basically 5th-dimensional -- he doesn't have to answer for a $16 trillion overall national debt.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics