Today, Mitt Romney spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Reno, Nevada. For one of the first times in the campaign – certainly the first time since his brilliant and straightforward speech at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – Romney came out swinging. And he hit the mark.
He went right at Obama from the outset:
[H]as the American economy recovered?
Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?
Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?
And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?
These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership. And, by these standards, we haven’t seen much in the President’s first term that inspires confidence in a second.
These are the questions upon which Romney can realistically stake his re-election bid. And Romney didn’t stop there. He delivered body-shot after body-shot:
The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.
And he posed the contrast between his own vision of American exceptionalism and Obama’s, largely by focusing on the concept that this must be an “American Century”:
Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends. In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve. In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.
Romney had especially harsh words for Obama’s planned military cuts:
Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.” And he is right.
And Romney ripped Obama for his administration’s national security leaks, which Romney said “betrays our national interest … compromises our men and women in the field … demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence … The time for stonewalling is over.”
Where President Obama offered nothing but platitudes in his speech to VFW yesterday, Romney laid out a point-by-point attack on Obama’s foreign policy. He started with the “sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic”; he moved on to Obama’s kowtowing to Russia; he slammed Obama for pooh-poohing Hugo Chavez’s team effort with Hezbollah.
He deconstructed Obama’s attacks on Israel:
President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.
The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.
His comprehensive assault on the Obama record included the usual litany of Obama abuses: the Middle East Islamist Spring, the rising danger of Iran, the bending over backwards for Chinese dictatorship. And he ended with this brutal takedown:
This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.
Contrast Romney’s quite specific speech with Obama’s yesterday, in which he obfuscated the issues, ignored the flaws in his foreign policy, and unilaterally declared that the Middle East was headed in the right direction – without any evidence. And Obama ignored his own record of attempted defense cuts, instead blaming Republicans and attacking Mitt Romney’s patriotism (“Let’s stop playing politics with our military”).
Obama does not have any ground on which to stand on his domestic policy. It’s now becoming clear that his record on foreign policy is, if possible, even worse. And Mitt Romney is beginning to go on the offensive.