Why American foreign policy took a trip to previous centuries during tonight's debate
If the meme of the first presidential debate was Big Bird, and the meme of the second was binders ... the meme of tonight's third and final debate was bayonets. And battleships. And -- less alliteratively, but just as wackily -- horses.
The whole thing has by now solidified into a phrase: "horses and bayonets," or #horsesandbayonets. What does it mean? And why did a 21st-century debate get so sidetracked by a 17th-century technology?
Below, the meme of the night, explained.
Where did it come from?
The line, oddly and fittingly enough, has to do with national defense. It arose during the debate's discussion of the United States's overall military preparedness. Replying to Romney's accusation that the Navy has fewer ships today than it did under past presidents, Obama replied that his rival "hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works."
Obama then engaged in a bit of sarcasm-dripping commander-in-chief-splaining: "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. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we're counting ships. It's -- it's what are our capabilities."
And ... boom. Meme = made.
Here's how the conversation played out: