A moment of substance for the few among us that still care: At last night’s national security debate, the president and his challenger both proved that they were indeed men who could be commander-in-chief. Romney did so with a general air of gravitas, and Obama did so because, as he told us on multiple occasions, he actually is the commander-in-chief. (Here’s more from me in a serious vein in today’s NYT.)
But enough of that foolish leader-of-the-free-world stuff. What people really care about is, who said something stupid? And by people here, I mean much of the mainstream media and apparently the commander-in-chief and his many partisans. How else to explain that vital trending topic, #horsesandbayonets?
Let’s go back a second. Barack Obama did a workmanlike job in defending his record on national security last night. And Mitt Romney did a workmanlike job in attacking it and laying out his vision. The president, however, did have one moment in which he demeaned his office with the clearly rehearsed suggestion that Governor Romney didn’t know a lot about defense and was somehow… old. Here’s the president’s line:
“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
The Washington Post called the president’s comments “patronizing and juvenile,” and that seems about right. But his followers are having none of that. Rather, they think he was awesome in the same sense that generations of second-graders have loved to point out to other seven-year olds that their epidermis is showing. BOOM.
This latest bit of juvenalia is of a piece with other Democratic talking points over the last couple of months: First Big Bird, then women in binders, and recently, “Romnesia.” Now, some might wonder why the presidential campaign can’t feature its fair share of fun and entertainment. True enough, however these are memes that have been promoted aggressively by the president and vice president themselves. Repeatedly.
We can put Obama and Biden on the couch and psychoanalyze why it is they feel the need to behave like kids and not leaders, but what’s the point? Let’s just say that for every moment when the Commander in Chief and his number two could have been talking about jobs, or soldiers, or Iran, or China, they were telling Mitt Romney that his epidermis was showing. Which is, when you come right down to it, pretty pathetic.