In a column for Politico on last night’s presidential debate, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough condemns the tone President Obama sometimes took in delivering his answers:
President Obama showed superior knowledge to his challenger on almost every question raised involving foreign policy. But I found his tone, at times, to be jarring for a sitting commander in chief. I would roll my eyes at a cable news pundit who used the line “The 80s called and they want their foreign policy back.” But that line is cringe-inducing from a president. His snarky response to Mitt Romney’s legitimate concern about the shrinking size of the U.S. Navy was also unfortunate.
“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” President Obama said. “Well, 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 under water, nuclear submarines,” he said.
It was an answer, no doubt, that got partisan Democrats to their feet across the country. But the response from swing voters across America (and especially Virginia) was probably less enthusiastic. Humor plays well in presidential debates. Biting sarcasm does not.