Interesting article by David Weigel in Slate:
Romney was right. Why was Obama wrong? Because, I think, he was willfully blurring the distinction between “geopolitical” and other sorts of threats. He was playing to the cheap seats. Voters do not fear Russia, or particularly care about its movements in its sad, cold sphere of influence. They do care a lot about terrorism. And Obama would use any chance he had, in 2012, to remind voters that he was president when Osama Bin Laden was killed.
So you see the politics—they reveal Obama as the player of a cheap trick. Of course al-Qaida isn’t a “geopolitical threat” to the United States. It’s a terrorist organization, untethered to states or geography. Obama himself (like George W. Bush before him) repeatedly claimed that the organization was on the run. How could al-Qaida be the greatest threat to America and a pathetic coalition of losers? It couldn’t. Obama was spinning, hopefully faster than Romney could un-spin.
But I don’t want to spin for Obama. Romney really did maintain a more cynical long-run view of Russia than Obama did. Obama saw Russia as a declining power that he could do business with, as he did with the New START treaty. Romney, as he laid out in his pre-campaign book No Apology, saw Russia as a recovering power. Its “rediscovered ambition for superpower status,” he wrote, “is fueled by its massive energy reserves.” This wasn’t as sustainable as China’s free-enterprise empire strategy, but it was an empire strategy, and that was enough to get spooked about.
That’s almost the entire text of Weigel’s article. Why do I find it interesting? Well first of all, like a few others from current or former Obama-supporters (Weigel voted for him in 2008 and Kerry in 2004), it does concede an incontrovertible but very inconvenient truth: Romney was right, Obama wrong. That it concedes it at all is surprising.
But—like the other articles of its type that I’ve read—it treats that fact as though it exists in a vacuum. There are no larger conclusions drawn, and why would there be? To do that would be to concede far more than these authors could bear. To actually assimilate the information and try to integrate it into a world view might require that world view to change, and that (as we know) is very threatening and very hard, and can be very costly for a journalist (or even a regular person, as we also know).
Weigel might wonder how it was and why it was that Romney got it right and Obama wrong. Maybe Romney’s general outlook about the geopolitical world was actually more correct? Instead, Weigel assumed that Obama knew the truth but pretended he didn’t. However, if Obama was the “player of a cheap trick” in this regard, maybe that’s what he is: a bagful of cheap tricks, and a liar as well? Maybe that bag fooled Weigel and most of his illustrious colleagues? Maybe Obama’s not what he appeared to be at all?
[NOTE: Weigel himself is a strange bird politically; fairly liberal but with pockets of conservatism and especially libertarianism. He was a player on JournoList, which exposed his cover and made many think of him mainly as a liberal, but that's not exactly the case.
Weigel is also 32 years old. Like so many journalists today, he is not only achingly young, but inexperienced in all fields except journalism, a career he entered right after graduation from Northwestern's famed school of journalism, from which he received a BA.
Weigel did not vote for Obama in 2012---he went with the libertarian Johnson---but not because he really rejected Obama, he just thought him a "mediocre executive." That seems to be the sum total of the motivation for Weigel's turning away from Obama at the time. You can read his reasons here.]