The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is holding its national convention in Reno this week, and heard directly from President Obama yesterday and Mitt Romney today. The contrast between the two speeches tells us quite a bit about the two candidates.
Here, for example, were the president's remarks.
You might notice that Obama didn't mention Mitt Romney. In a 33-minute speech in advance of the election, the president just didn't feel the need to reference his opponent at all. Indeed, Obama only mentioned Republicans once.
Instead of attacking, the president felt confident enough to simply tout his record of success: Obama has restored American prestige on the global stage, ended the war in Iraq, crushed al Qaeda, begun bringing troops home from Afghanistan, reduced the nuclear threat, and helped rid the world of Muammar Qaddafi. When it comes to veterans, Obama has reduced the frequency and duration of deployments, while strengthening veterans' health care.
"Today every American can be proud that America is safer, stronger and more respected in the world," Obama said, adding, "[Y]ou don't just have my words, you have my deeds. You have my track record. You have the promises I've made and the promises that I've kept."
And then there was the president's Republican challenger, who appears to be living in an alternate reality with very little in common with the reality the rest of us live in.
In Romney Land, it makes sense to condemn timelines in Afghanistan, then promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan "by 2014." In Romney Land, it makes sense to blame a Democratic president for budget cuts demanded by congressional Republicans. In Romney Land, as American prestige and credibility is on the rise around the globe, it makes sense to say America's image has been "diminished."
But it was this line from his speech that I found especially hard to stomach:
"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."
Think about that for a second: in Mitt Romney's mind, as of today, the United States is no longer the strongest nation on earth. He felt comfortable leveling this attack against American strength to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, no less.
I'm curious, which country, from Romney's odd perspective, is "the strongest nation on earth"? If the title no longer belongs to the U.S.A., who took it from us and when?
Can Romney think of another country with a better military? With a more robust economy? With a better workforce?
Put it this way: what other country does Romney see outside our borders that leads him to think, "I wish we were as strong as they are"?