, Gloucester, MA

October 8, 2012

Letter: Did 'real issues' distract president?

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the Editor:

As I listened to most of the pundits pan President Obama’s admittedly lackluster performance at the first presidential debate last week, I was struck that most of them offered nothing but criticism of the president and praise for Mitt Rmney’s performance — even though much of what Gov. Romney had to say, with such well rehearsed style and polish, was patently false.

For example, he claimed that his alternative to “Obamacare” would guarantee people with pre-existing health conditions access to coverage. Read the fine print, my friends. Romney’s so called plan does no such thing.

He cannot extend the Bush era tax cuts, enact a 20 percent, across-the-board tax cut of his own, and embark on a $2 trillion defense spending binge — spending much of what the top brass of the military says is unnecessary — and balance the budget at the same time. Crunch the numbers, it just doesn’t work.

Then, of course, he pledged to put Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch on the unemployment line by not funding PBS.

But back to the president. He did, indeed, appear detached and disinterested. But it’s little wonder. As the president, he has a daily plate full of important issues, problems, and even crises to deal with that a mere candidate does not.

I don’t know this for sure, but I would not be at all surprised if the president’s lackluster performance at the first debate had to do with his being preoccupied by the news that came across his desk that morning that the Syrian civil war had spilled over into Turkey and the two countries were exchanging artillery fire.

I am sure that dangerous reality, with all its regional and global implications, was of greater concern to the president than a debate with a man who has cynically changed positions on more issues more times through the years than any politician in recent memory.

Turkey is a member of NATO. The terms of NATO membership dictate that an attack on one NATO member be considered an attack on all NATO members. If the situation between Turkey and Syria continues to escalate and deteriorate, as appears to be happening, given that Syria struck Turkey first, the United States and its NATO allies may have no other choice but to become actively involved in the conflict.

I am sure that potential reality was of much greater concern to the president than whether or not he scored political points in a debate against an opponent who has proven himself willing to say just about anything he thinks people want to hear in order to win an election.