Editorial: We’re still waiting for Romney’s plan
We know, two weeks before the election, where President Obama stands on the issues. We’re still waiting to learn what challenger Mitt Romney would do as president. Three debates, including Monday’s in Boca Raton, Fla., did little or nothing to inform voters about the specifics of Romney’s proposals or, given his frequent reversals, whether his positions arise from conviction or convenience.
The final debate on foreign policy was a clear win for Obama, whose experience as commander-in-chief gave him a tremendous advantage. It also helps that on almost every foreign policy front, the policies the president put in place worked or are working.
Romney agreed with the president more often than he disagreed during the debate. What differences existed were a matter of degree. If Obama was tough, Romney promised to be tougher. If Obama cared about achieving peace, Romney claimed to care more, so much more that he used the word every chance he got.
“Let me step back and talk about what I think our mission has to be in the Middle East, and even more broadly, because our purpose is to make sure the world is more – is peaceful. We want a peaceful planet. We want people to be able to enjoy their lives and know they’re going to have a bright and prosperous future and not be at war. That’s our purpose. And the mantle of – of leadership for promoting the principles of peace has fallen to America,” Romney said. We half expected him to conclude his answer by revealing that he wears a peace symbol on a chain around his neck.
If Romney wants peace so desperately why, voters should ask, does he want to spend $2 trillion more on defense spending than the Pentagon is asking for?
Debate moderator Bob Schieffer asked the candidate that question, but Romney ducked it.
We also wonder whether Romney really thinks, as he claimed that night, that Iran presents the United States’ greatest security threat. Wouldn’t the greater threat come not from Iran, which most security analysts say is years away from having both a nuclear weapon and a way to deliver it, but from nations that already have both. He said the president “wasted” the past four years when it comes to putting an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions but, as the president said, much of the world united in an effort to apply pressure on that rogue nation. Iran’s economy has been crippled by sanctions, and many of its people yearn for the opportunity to get out from under the yoke of its ayatollahs.
Iran’s leaders know that building a bomb would guarantee an attack by Israel, the United States and perhaps other allies. They know it would be suicidal to pass a given point in their pursuit.
The greater threat lies in Pakistan. It has lots of nuclear weapons, an unstable government and a large rabidly anti-American segment to its population that includes al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
Romney was also wrong when he said that “nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater than it was four years ago.” To use a word newly in fashion, what malarkey. Only someone blind to how the world felt about a bellicose United States under President George W. Bush could make that statement. Does Romney actually believe that America’s influence in Libya or Egypt is less now that their dictators were deposed with America’s help?
Though foreign policy was the issue at hand, both candidates used as much time as they could to talk about America’s economy and how to improve it. But on that score too, Romney still hasn’t moved beyond the platitudes and promises of a sales pitch. He has been unwilling to share with voters the fine print on what he claims are his plans for the great issues facing this nation, issues like tax reform, access to health care and balancing the budget.
At one point in the debate, the moderator asked Romney how he could both cut taxes and increase military spending without driving up the debt. His answer: “Come on our website; you’ll look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight or 10 years.”
We looked, and the numbers don’t add up. Neither do Romney’s prescriptions for a more peaceful world.