Did Obama's Snarky Mouth Just Lose Virginia?


At least in Virginia, it looks like President Obama may have sunk his own battleship, by firing too much snark over the "too few ships" bow of Mitt Romney. While Obama was technically correct in what he said about "horses and bayonets" , he was politically really dumb, since fewer ships in Virginia mean fewer jobs. Again—this is an election about the economy and jobs, number one—even when we're talking about foreign policy.
A lot of people were thrilled with the way Barack Obama contemptuously put away goofy, hopelessly ignorant, Mitt Romney in the foreign policy debate.

One of the favorite moments for Democrats came when Romney was whining about how the size of the US Navy had shrunk to the fewest number of ships since 1917! Oh no! What do we do if we have to fight World War I again?

And that was the snarky place Obama was coming from in his response, suggesting Romney was anachronistic in his thinking about the relationship of numbers of ships to some optimum level of naval capability. Obviously, each US Navy ship of 2012 is way more capable of destroying things, and doing a lot of other things, than the most powerful ships in 1917.

As Obama said:
"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's 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."
RCP Poll Average October 24th—Virgina race TIED.

RCP Poll Average October 25th—Obama drops way more than Romney pops, suggesting the shift is more a move against the President (for some reason). Republicans had begun hammering Obama over being soft on shipbuilding jobs, and the workers who stood to lose those jobs responded.
Well, that put Romney in his place, huh? And what Obama said wasn't an inaccurate analysis, although it really does make a difference in capability if you have five aircraft carriers versus two. The real question is whether the capability (and the cost of course) of two aircraft carriers is sufficient to get the job done.

That's the geopolitical-military view of navies.

Then there's the domestic political view of navies.

And the problem for President Obama is that, in Virginia—it really is a game of Battleship—and especially counting ships. 

Because in Virginia, more ships mean more jobs.

In fact, even though battleships have been nothing much more than museum pieces for half a century, you get the feeling that Virginia would be just fine if its shipyards were still making and basing big battlewagons too. The more, the merrier, i.e. the more US Navy money flowing into Virginia.

So, affirming, as the President did, that fewer ships is a good thing, might make a lot of fiscal and even military sense, but it might just turn out to be one of the dumbest things Obama has said in the entire campaign.

Outsmarting and outsnarking himself? Maybe. 

The RCP average (see poll images above) for Virginia shows a distinct, and disturbing (for Obama) break that has occurred in just the last day, which favors Romney. It is as if Obama had personally told a group of supporters, whose votes he really needed, that he didn't give a damn if they kept their shipbuilding jobs. In fact, that is kind of what the President said to them.

Let's just say a guy such as Obama, who starts out with certain real disadvantages in some parts of the country, needs to play his best, smartest, game in the state which hosted the capital of the Confederacy.

In the end, it may not be racial bigotry that sinks Barack Obama's try for a second term. It may turn out to be battleships.

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