Commanders in Chief
A foreign policy debate for Cuyahoga County.
If Mr. Obama wanted to make the Republican look "wrong and reckless," as he said, he surely failed. The former Massachusetts Governor was so intent on appearing to be cool and steady that he avoided offering any major policy differences on Syria, Iran or Afghanistan. Most remarkably, he even refused to challenge the Administration's handling of the deadly assault on Americans in Benghazi.
Mr. Romney was clearly keeping his eye on his main challenge of the evening, which was looking Presidential on issues that offer an incumbent a natural advantage. He passed that test with ease, making no major mistakes while offering impressive detail on everything from the radical government in Mali—make that "northern" Mali—to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. He wasn't rattled, and if anything looked cooler than a sometimes peevish Mr. Obama. The President scored more debating points, but he looked smaller doing it.
The downside of Mr. Romney's caution is that he offered policies that he might not be able to sustain if he does win on November 6. On Syria, he promised no U.S. military action when events might well require it to protect our allies and prevent a larger war. On Afghanistan, he hewed so tightly to Mr. Obama's 2014 timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops that he more or less rebutted himself when he described the continuing threat to Kabul from terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.