By ANDREW MALCOLM
Posted 10/24/2012 09:04 AM ET
Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is in trouble. It’s silently slowing down in North Carolina and now, even Florida. Even raising hundreds of millions in a record number of fundraisers, his campaign has had to borrow from a bank. Obama can’t admit it all though.
And he desperately needs to motivate his vaunted ground troops in these last 13 days.
So, in Monday’s debate the Democrat wasn’t trying to stem the hemorrhaging of independents and women from his side. He was trying to serve some red meat to rally party loyalists after his disappointing debate performances. Hence, his sarcastic praise for Gov. Mitt Romney agreeing that al Qaeda is a threat.
And hence this less-than-presidential response to Romney’s concern over the Democrat’s planned massive cuts in the nation’s defense spending:
“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.
“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has 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 what are our capabilities.”
This from the half-black man who suckered so many millions of countrymen into believing he was sincerely interested in uniting Americans of all kinds and colors for a new day. That seems so much farther away than merely 1,373 days ago.
But re-reading Obama’s attempted debate mocking, there is some sweet justice watching a man show off how much he knows but actually reveal instead, not only a pettiness, but how little he actually knows. Like his speech last year when he hailed a heroic Navy corpsman as a “corpseman.”
Obama claimed to a group of youths back in the 2007-08 cycle that he once considered a career in the military. Pols say such things to connect with voter groups. But, of course, what Obama was also saying to them standing there in civvies is that he clearly rejected the idea of doing the kind of patriotic volunteer work troops choose.
And let’s be honest, even in the early post-draft years of the 1970’s-80’s, the U.S. military would have been less than eager to recruit a woozy Choom Gang member like Obama.
Where to start? First, Gov. Romney didn’t say 1916; he said 1917, the year the U.S. entered World War I. Second, Obama was trying to portray the governor as ignorant about the military. There are, in fact, fewer Army horses now. But such animals do still play a critical tactical role for our Special Forces in Afghanistan.
Bayonets, Mr. President, are the knife-like weapons attached to the business end of rifles for close-in fighting. They were invented as baionettes in the original Bayonne, not the one in New Jersey.
Contrary to the president’s implied description of them as outmoded, bayonets remain an integral weapon for soldiers, especially Marines, for whom the deadly blades are standard issue. A president who didn’t skip so many security briefings might know that.
The Army said Tuesday it currently stocks more than 415,000 bayonets and the Marines possess 195,000 more with plans to buy an additional 175,000. You’d think a commander-in-chief who once considered a military career might be aware of such things.
There’s a reason why Obama ducked addressing Romney’s disturbing assertion that the U.S. Navy today has fewer ships than 95 years ago: Romney is dead right.
In 1917, the U.S. Navy had 345 ships. At the end of last year, the third of Obama’s administration, the U.S. Navy had 285 ships.
Romney’s point was that the estimated trillion dollars in pending defense cuts, including those mandated under so-called sequestration, would devastate the fleet even more. Not an unreasonable concern when, apparently, we had insufficient resources to even protect our ambassador in Libya.
Obama stated flatly for the national television audience that sequestration would not happen as scheduled on Jan. 2. Within minutes, however, Obama political aide David Plouffe was scurrying around the Florida debate site telling reporters that what the Chicagoan really meant was sequestration “should not” happen.
Obama also told the debate audience that the idea of debilitating mandated defense budget cuts was Congress’ idea. However, Bob Woodward documented in his recent book, “The Price of Politics,” that the toxic sequestration idea was actually delivered to Congress by Obama chief of staff Jack Lew in a meeting with Democrat Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid.
Let’s see what else did Obama try to school Romney on? Oh, right, aircraft carriers, those really big ships where airplanes can land. Maybe Obama hasn’t studied enough how the military works, but those gigantic capital ships with more than 5,000 crew members do not just cruise around on their own like tramp freighters.
For every aircraft carrier there are at least 10 other sentry and support ships in the strike group. Eleven nuclear carriers (soon to be 10) with a minimum 10 ships each. That’s nearly half the entire U.S. fleet under Obama right there.
President Obama saved the best for last. So we did too. Perhaps he doesn’t know enough about the military because his “ships that go underwater” are really called sunk, not nuclear submarines. Nuclear submarines in Navy parlance are “boats,” as even a supercillious commander-in-chief might know. (Also, btw, those little windows on ships are called portholes.)
Makes you wonder how such abundant Oval Office ignorance of the U.S. military is going down in crucial battleground states like Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, all with major military installations, often called bases.