The debate is a few hours away. In the public interest, I am trying to preempt the obvious boxing analogies which will come from the media and pundit class in the post-debate analysis.
And as you know, I am a huge fan of Muhammad Ali. I also have come to understand and respect (the late) Joe Frazier.
The Romney-Obama debate on international affairs is not Ali-Frazier 3, the legendary Thrilla in Manila. When someone suggests that it is, when you see said claim online, or if Ali-Frazier is paired with Obama-Romney as the meme of the week, please do chime in with a basic question.
After tonight's debate did either Romney or Obama say that this was the closest to death he had ever been? The answer will reveal how the horse race has become a type of prize fight, one that is better described as either a carnival act or professional wrestling.
Also, can the following be said about Romney and Obama?
"Technically the loser of two of the three fights, [Frazier] seems not to understand that they ennobled him as much as they did Ali," wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, "that the only way we know of Ali's greatness is because of Frazier's equivalent greatness, that in the end there was no real difference between the two of them as fighters, and when sports fans and historians think back, they will think of the fights as classics, with no identifiable winner or loser. These are men who, like it or not, have become prisoners of each other and those three nights."I doubt it.
As others have alluded to, I think there will be lots of AIPAC and Americans United for Israel signals from Romney. Obama will mention Osama bin Laden several times (how things change when we live in a moment where the Democratic Party is now the Party of National Security). Romney will be a broken record on Libya and his myth about the President's apology tour; moreover, they will continue with the line designed to please the low information petit authoritarians on the Right that somehow Obama's "weakness" encourages America's enemies abroad.
Romney's amateurish approach to statecraft is equaled only by the 5th grade G.I. Joe level understanding of international relations offered up by the Tea Party GOP base.
In all, Obama has a record to defend. Romney, has no record (save for gaffes abroad)--this can be spun as a plus for there is no track record to evaluate him against. But, Obama can hammer him on his lack of experience. As I said earlier, the third debate is about style and posturing over substance. The issues are too complicated for the average voter to fully comprehend.
Regardless of what occurs, my prediction is that the pundits will call this third fight a draw. This narrative keeps the horse race meme going, and ramps up the drama for the next two weeks.
Your thoughts on tonight's debate? Any predictions?