AHA Roundtable: The Presidential Debate of October 22, 2012

Historians in the News

The Respondents:

“If the White House treats Iran, as Governor Romney claimed last night, ‘the same way we treated . . . apartheid . . . South Africa,’ then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime…have nothing to worry about."

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—Carol Anderson, Emory University

“As an international lawyer, perhaps the most surprising moment of this debate for me was when Romney suggested that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be ‘indicted’ under the UN’s Genocide Convention for incitement. Seriously?”
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—Elizabeth Borgwardt, Washington University in St. Louis

“I returned from Beirut, Lebanon this past Sunday, October 21, a Lebanon where a grotesquely huge bomb triggered by cowardly fanatics shattered the tenuous tranquility that the vast majority of ordinary Lebanese crave…”
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—Leila Fawaz, Tufts University

“As moderator Bob Schieffer observed, a debate held during the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis can offer compelling reminders, but President Obama and Governor Romney seemed to be reading outdated books.”
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—Max Paul Friedman, American University

“What was evident throughout was that the goal of neither Obama nor Romney was to enlighten and stimulate thinking. The tenor of the debate was consistently pedestrian. Rather than arguing about whether the U.S. should place any daylight between itself and Israel, the candidates made sure that there was no daylight between the two of them.”
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— Richard H. Immerman, Temple University

“In short, the debates seemed to assume nearly complete freedom in many of the ways that history suggests we need to recognize constraints; and, on the other hand, it remained stuck within a very narrow chronological window, without much thought about where we have come from historically … or about where the large sweep of history might be taking us.”
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—Kenneth Pomeranz, University of Chicago

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