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Candidates Swap Platitudes, Not Policies

On the merits of this debate, and focusing exclusively on the portions devoted to the Middle East, it is safe to conclude that Mitt Romney would make a good vice president in a Barack Obama administration, writes Alon Pinkas. In fact, when they did differ it was the dovish, Wilsonian Romney who criticized the realist, Kissingeresque Obama.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (L) speaks during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida October 22, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS USA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION)

Platitudes are a wonderful thing. Like Chinese fortune cookies they contain irrefutable truisms. They are politically safe, media-solid, voter-tested and reassuring, gaffe-averse and on many occasions happen to have validity and viability.

One thing platitudes (or cliches, or slogans) do not constitute is coherent policy. On the other hand, and despite Bruce Riedel's wise column here in Al-Monitor asking for policy prescriptions, perhaps "Presidential Debates" are not a forum in which you should or are expected to make serious policy proposals. Certainly not on the Middle East. President Barack Obama at least made an effort to explain his policies and asked voters to trust multilateralism and diplomacy. Mitt Romney just conveniently found refuge in the warm confines of platitude-land.

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