A debate is a strategic intellectual contest won by the contestant who brings superior knowledge and tactics to the enterprise. And you thought it was just substance. Well, it is, but only within the tactical context. All the facts in the world, if presented without a debate theme fall short of effectiveness. A debate without a theme is merely an argument. His overall strategy for winning the debate, the better debater establishes the theme straightaway.
The theme of tomorrow evening’s presidential debate will not be foreign policy. If Mr. Romney establishes the theme, it will be Mr. Obama’s failures in this, the other side of the presidency. If Mr. Obama manages to stamp his theme on the proceedings it will be to defend his foreign policy. The problem Mr. Obama faces is defending the indefensible, which is precisely why Mitt Romney need not mount a frontal attack using Obama’s failure in Benghazi. Instead, Mr. Romney need only a feint on his opponent’s flanks with the result being Mr. Obama will indict himself in the process by mounting a defense.
Having already established Mr. Obama’s failure on the domestic front in the last two debates and on the campaign trail, Mr. Romney need only point to the Benghazi debacle as another illustration of his opponent’s quite remarkable incompetence. Where tactics play a role will be in exactly how Mr. Romney shoots that particular arrow the goal being to force Mr. Obama into yet another defense using the latest iteration of “I didn’t know, and anyways it’s Hillary’s fault,” a tactic which will not play well before an already suspicious American audience. In the process he will make the situation worse which is what the Romney camp wants.
Mr. Romney, if his debating skills are honed to the max will pivot from that overworked discussion to the theme of respect. If he is as shrewd as I believe, he will mention Mr. Obama’s oft-heard exclamation that we are now respected throughout the world as a result of his policies. Then Mr. Romney will ask the question, “But what are those polices?” He will then point to Mr. Obama’s world apology tour and that is where Mr. Romney’s strategy will begin to fully play out.
Ben Affleck and other Hollywood liberals did a film some time back about the shellacking America took at Pearl Harbor in 1942. It flopped. There has never been a film made which portrays America losing that made it big at the box office, and there is a very good reason why. Americans hate losing and they do not look at themselves as losers. No one in their right mind wants to pay $10.00 or more to see America lose. The same applies to how we are perceived throughout the world. No one wants a second-rate America, a groveling, “we’re sorry for being the greatest country in the history of the world” America. Mitt Romney knows that. He will capitalize on it neatly segueing into his theme of peace through American strength.
Mitt Romney need do nothing more than juxtapose the results of weakness with those of strength. Americans understand the ramifications of the former and the blessings of the latter. There will be those moments when he points to an increasingly aggressive Russia…a point on which Romney was right months ago and for which he was ridiculed by Obama. He will also point to China and its saber-rattling in the neighborhood. In short, he will state the obvious, the world is in political chaos and the United States is MIA under Barack Hussein Obama. If there was ever a time it needed the United States of America to bring some sanity and sense, it is now. Abdicating our role as the world’s only superpower makes us losers, and we hate losers. Romney will remind us of that tomorrow night.