During the presidential debate on Monday evening, President Barack Obama deployed a Seinfeldian zinger to mock former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. Romney had said that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are “rushing in” as revolutions shake up the Muslim world.
“Gov. Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat,” Obama said, “because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia.”
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War's been over for 20 years,” Obama said.
The riff recalled a famous episode the Seinfeld sitcom in which the character George Costanza thinks of a comeback long after a co-worker had humiliated him by saying the ocean had called to complain that it was running out of shrimp.
To some observers, Obama’s lackluster performance in the first presidential debate in Colorado several weeks ago, followed by a series of new arguments during a rally the next day, seemed reminiscent of Costanza’s “Jerk Store” comeback.
On Monday, Obama accused Romney of importing different parts of his agenda from other decades, in addition to the 1980s.
“Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s, and the economic policies of the 1920s,” Obama said.
“You say that you're not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq, but just a few weeks ago you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the challenge we have –- I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong.”