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In Monday night's debate, President Barack Obama basically humiliated Mitt Romney in response to his lie about the size of the U.S. Navy, pointing out that if we have fewer ships than in 1916, "we also have fewer horses and bayonets." Republicans apparently looked at this and, instead of slinking away in hopes that voters also wouldn't hear that the Navy had fewer ships under George W. Bush in 2007, thought "we can win this horses and bayonets thing."

And so it was that Republicans from Fox News to Breitbart.com to Michelle Malkin rose up and shrieked "THE MILITARY DOES TOO USE HORSES AND BAYONETS" and then proceeded to dance about, sticking their tongues out, thinking they'd scored major points and proven that the president doesn't know anything about the military. Because, OMG, Special Forces rode horses into the mountains of Afghanistan and Marines are trained in bayonet use and it's disrespectful of our troops to suggest that horses and bayonets are maybe not the tools by which we measure our military strength today. Also, the bayonet industry was highly insulted, and we can't have that. Bayonet corporate people have feelings, too.

The little detail Republicans have ignored, of course, is that the president didn't say we have no horses and bayonets, he said we have fewer horses and bayonets. Not to mention that:

[...] a 2011 article in military newspaper Stars and Stripes (which is a Department of Defense authorized news outlet), highlighted the changing role of the bayonet in the military. The article explained that there hasn't been a bayonet charge since the Korean War and that "U.S. army units have not issued soldiers bayonets to Iraq and Afghanistan." (Nonetheless, the article noted that soldiers would still be trained to use a bayonet, just in a different capacity.)
To summarize, Obama said we have fewer horses and bayonets, not none, which is correct. He further noted that we have aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, which is also correct. Romney, on the other hand, was basing his (false) argument on the notion that a 1917 ship is directly equivalent to an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine. And Republicans think they have something to crow about here? We knew they want to take the country backward, but this is carrying things a little far.

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Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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