"L'etat, c'est moi."
n Louis XIV
"This nation. Me."
n Barack Obama, third presidential debate
WASHINGTON — OK, OK. I'll give you the context. Obama was talking about "when Tunisians began to protest, this nation, me, my administration, stood with them."
Still. How many democratic leaders would place the word "me" in such proximity to the word "nation"?
Obama would have made a very good Bourbon. He's certainly not a good debater. He showed it again Monday night.
Obama lost. His tone was petty and small.
Arguing about Iran's nuclear program, he actually said to Mitt Romney, "While we were coordinating an international coalition to make sure these sanctions were effective, you were still invested in a Chinese state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil sector."
You can't get smaller than that.
You'd expect this in a city council race. But only from the challenger. The sitting councilman would find such an ad hominem beneath him.
That spirit led Obama into a major unforced error. When Romney made a perfectly reasonable case to rebuild a shrinking Navy, Obama condescended:
"You mentioned . . . 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."
Naval vessels are as obsolete as horse cavalry?
Liberal pundits got a great guffaw from this, but the underlying argument is quite stupid.
As if the ships being retired are dinghies, skipjacks and three-masted schooners. As if an entire branch of the armed forces — the principal projector of American power abroad — is itself some kind of anachronism.
"We have these things called aircraft carriers," said the schoolmaster, "where planes land on them."
This is Obama's case for fewer vessels? Does he think carriers patrol alone?
He doesn't know that for every one carrier, 10 times as many ships sail in a phalanx of escorts?