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Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Featured, Politics | 7 comments

Twitter titters over #horsesandbayonets

At the third presidential debate, Mitt Romney recycled an argument he made back in January when justifying his proposal to increase the defense budget:

“Our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917.”

In rebuttal, Barack Obama retorted:

I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

And the Twitterverse went wild.

I asked:

Despite evidence to the contrary, I don’t think #horsesandbayonets has legs.

One: it’s foreign policy, which is almost always on the back burner as far as issues-important-to-voters. I think #horsesandbayonets is a flash in the pan, except for its natural peanut-butter-and-jelly relationship with #bindersfullofwomen.

Two: the quips notwithstanding, on foreign policy the difference between the two candidates is as insignificant as that between Coke and Pepsi.

Three: we don’t know very much about foreign policy. It’s not entirely our fault. When I was a senior at the University of Georgia, post-Vietnam, I wrote a paper analyzing front-page news coverage of foreign affairs. I had spent the prior summer in Norway and northern Europe and was distressed at the minimal coverage.

And that hasn’t changed for the better, but for the worse:

In 1985, 9 percent of foreign stories appeared on page 1, compared with only 6 percent in 2010.

See the complete analysis — with many more tweets and pictures — on Storify.