Presidential-debate moderator Jim Lehrer is empowered by the rules to stray tonight from the domestic policy realm and ask about anything in the headlines. That leaves open the opportunity for some discussion of Operation Fast and Furious, the president’s failure to attend meetings with world leaders at the United Nations and, most important, the Libya debacle. And even if Lehrer doesn’t bring it up, Mitt Romney certainly can work it in to his answers.
I wouldn’t suggest that Romney respond to a question on the debt by saying something like, “I was talking about the debt with Ann while watching the embassies burn on TV.” In other words, it should be relevant, at least a little, to what he is being asked.
So here are 10 ways that these topics actually do relate to the president’s stewardship of the economy and style of governance (which is also a designated subtopic tonight.)
1. Obama blames others. President Obama blames 90 percent of the deficit and Fast and Furious on George W. Bush and says the continuing economic doldrums aren’t his fault either. Whatever isn’t Bush’s fault is the Republican House’s fault. He doesn’t, however, credit Bush with TARP or the initial auto bailout, which helped stabilize the economy.
2. Obama has been obsessed with campaigning for well over a year. He has pushed other issues to the side and procrastinated on dealing with our big problems. He won’t deal with the fiscal cliff, won’t face up to the disastrous spread of al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb and can’t be bothered to deal with defense sequestration cuts.
3. Obama is in denial. He thinks the economy is getting better. He thinks al-Qaeda is done for. He thinks a video caused jihadists to kill Americans.
4. Obama has not been candid. He won’t level with us on how bad the economy is. He won’t admit that Fast and Furious was his. He won’t admit that his Middle East policy is in shambles. He won’t admit that taxing the rich could never raise enough money to pay for all his spending.
5. Obama doesn’t get traditional American values. He wants the government to be at the center of society. He wants the United Nations to call the shots in Syria. He doesn’t have confidence in the American people or in America’s ability to do good in the world.
6. Obama has run a lawless presidency. He unilaterally amended the immigration laws and the welfare work requirement. He invents a bogus legal defense to keep from giving Congress information about the Fast and Furious scandal.
7. Obama is hiding from the press and the voters. What did he know and when did he know it about the coordinated attack in Libya and Fast and Furious. Why doesn’t he sit down to answer hard questions, instead of going on “The View”?
8. Obama doesn’t prioritize federal spending. He’s willing to harm national security to get his soak-the-rich tax hike. He has hiked discretionary domestic spending through the roof, while cutting defense spending. He thinks it’s a good idea to give the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt aid with no strings attached.
9. Obama won’t admit mistakes. Was it an error to leave the Libyan consulate unprotected? A mistake to ram through health care instead of paying attention to the economy? A miscue to let Congress draft the stimulus bill?
10. Obama can’t work with others. He couldn’t make a deal on the budget grand bargain. He hasn’t established relations with other world leaders. He publicly fights with the prime minister of Israel.