How the president inadvertently gave the GOP candidate an opening
Mitt Romney doesn't have many punches to throw when it comes to foreign policy. His main critique of the White House is stylistic: Barack Obama hasn't defended American values, and his rhetorical modesty emboldens Washington's enemies. But last week may have given the Republican candidate an unexpected opening. If Romney really wants to paint the president into a corner tonight, here's what he should say: Obama still wants to close the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay.
How do we know that? And why should that be controversial? To answer the first question, it's because Obama told us so. Asked on the Daily Show last week whether his White House experience has changed what he said he believed about foreign policy four years ago, Obama said no -- and then went on to admit he had some unfinished business to do:
STEWART: This is a little game I call "Still? Or No?" So you're the president now. Before, when you ran, you had certain things that you thought -- I wonder if four years as president has in any way changed that. Okay, first one is, we don't have to trade our values and ideals for our security--
OBAMA: We don't--
STEWART: --do you still feel that way?
OBAMA: We don't. There are some things we haven't gotten done. I still want to close Guantanamo, we haven't been able to get that through Congress.
Despite being asked a broad question that could have gone in any direction -- from drone strikes to cybersurveillance to national service -- Obama proceeded, unbidden, to bring up the one campaign promise from 2008 that instantly raises the hackles of both the right and the left.