Horsing around with Obama’s debate jab


President Obama’s horses-and-bayonets smack against Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s fixation on the number of naval vessels was as stinging as it was clever. So what if it was pre-packaged and ready for delivery when the time was right. But I didn’t realize how stinging until I saw this ridiculous headline on the Daily Caller Web site: “Obama line about horses, bayonets fails fact-check.”

You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed.  We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them.  We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships; it’s what are our capabilities.

Nowhere in his comment did Obama say the military no longer had horses or bayonets. The keyword there is “fewer.” As in they’re still around. The overall point is a valid one. The military changes and advances with the times and with the changes in warfare.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, while the bayonet is still standard issue equipment for Marines, “[f]ew Marines or soldiers ever use a bayonet and service members on patrol do not equip their rifles with bayonets.”

As for the horses, Daily Caller executive editor David Martosko proudly notes his site won an Edward R. Murrow award for a report about the horseback-riding U.S. soldiers who were the first to fight during the invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the Journal points out that those soldiers were special operations forces and that “most service members don’t get training on horseback riding.”

So, now that we have that cleared up, let’s get back to talking about how Mitt Romney became “Me-too” Romney in Boca Raton.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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