Considering the National Security Choice Next Tuesday

Yesterday, on another site, I asked what events of the past week tell us about President Obama v. Governor Romney as stewards of our nation’s security. Excerpts:

Just as with the failure of their economic policy, Team Obama points the finger of responsibility [for Benghazi] at someone else, hoping to escape public scrutiny. The problem is that the president is not abstractly responsible for national security. It turns out that a decision to deny a rescue in a situation like Benghazi would almost certainly have reached the Oval Office.

Yesterday in Findlay, Ohio, Mitt Romney … showed what a very different president he would be. Nationally televised, the address was one of the best of its kind I have heard in years. And while its theme was the domestic economy, it pointed to the entirely different approach a Romney administration would take in global affairs compared to what we have now. For as the speech made clear, Mr. Romney is already thinking strategically in a way that still escapes the Obama administration after four years in office. He is looking for routes not just to traverse the current crisis in the Middle East but to transcend it. The contrast became particularly clear when he talked about energy policy…. [C]onsider how altered the global scene would be today, how much safer our nation would be, if North America had no net need for Middle Eastern oil. Governor Romney’s agenda reflects an understanding of this truth. President Obama’s actions reflect none….

In his Findlay speech, Governor Romney also talked about further openings to global trade. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has not initiated a single free trade negotiation, while China has concluded nearly two dozen. The Governor focused in particular on China, repeating again that as president he would label that country a “currency manipulator.” Some see calling China to account on monetary matters as protectionist and contradicting what Mr. Romney has also said about building better relations with China.

They have missed, though Mr. Romney has been careful to note, that such a declaration would empower a President Romney to initiate U.S.-China trade talks ( immediately. In other words,Mr. Romney is pledging to start the ball rolling in the first hours of his administration toward negotiations aimed at achieving an open and sustainable relationship with the world’s second largest economy and arguably the power on which long-term global peace most depends….

So here is what the last week has demonstrated: Governor Romney is addressing national security creatively, boldly and from many perspectives, showing a real grasp of how to reorder the most problematic issues of global affairs. Meanwhile, President Obama doesn’t have a clue. This election really, really matters.