Mideast chaos throws prez race a curveball

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama. (Credit: AP)

Where's the foreign affairs?

For months, people had been asking when foreign policy would finally emerge as an actual topic in the presidential race, the president being commander in chief and all.

Well, be careful what you wish for.


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All it took was a 15-minute trailer for a purposely inflammatory hate movie making the YouTube rounds of the Middle East. Before you knew it, the region was in flames. Decent people were dying. And the Arab Spring had sprung all over the American presidential election of 2012.

It's not like there's nothing to talk about.

That part of the world is changing -- fast and profoundly. The old despots are going or gone, and no one can say much with certainty about whoever's settling in next. There are reasons for hopefulness, quite a few in Libya, where the people voted in a relatively moderate government after decades of dictatorial abuse.

And you can't say Barack Obama and Mitt Romney don't have starkly different approaches to the region.

Up until now, Obama's been happy to rest on his Osama laurels. Romney's been happy to avoid a topic he seems to know little about. The polls all say Americans are far more concerned about their job prospects and household incomes than about anything that's happening in Cairo, Benghazi or Khartoum.

And then, as it so often does, the world began erupting around us, repeating a lesson taught so many times before in so many different ways.

You may not care much about the outside world. But the outside world definitely cares about you.

HITTING HOME

1. Between Iran and a hard place

2. Gaddafi just misunderstood?

3. With friends like Bibi. . .

4. Prophet and loss

5. Seen the movie yet?

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Why did two armed thugs choose Odibor Agbimson's door to bust down in Mastic Beach? Didn't you know immediately this was no random home invasion? . . . Can Republicans still win the New York money primary? At $10,000 for a photo with Mitt, how many Gold Coast banker friends does Robert Rosenthal have? . . . That John Schnatter guy at the Papa John's opening in New Hyde Park? Was he the pizza chain's real-life Papa? . . . Will Wayne Chrebet have to change the name of his Social Sports Kitchen in Uniondale to Cheap Jet's? Feds say the ex-wide receiver's paying his culinary teammates sub-minimum wage . . . If the rust in Mineola's water is really harmless, why are village officials telling local residents not to bathe in it? What's wrong with a few rusty bubbles, anyway? . . . Homicide by boat? The HBB charge against Brian Andreski, accused in the boating crash that killed West Islip's Christopher Mannino, is apparently a Suffolk first . . . Dina Lohan on "Dr. Phil" Monday? What could possibly go wrong? . . . If not "blue ice" from an aircraft, what crashed through two roofs on Valley Stream's Home Street? Some very stiff pigeon mess?

THE NEWS IN SONG: People dying for no reason at all: "Pure Massacre," tinyurl.com/foraffs

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT PATROHAY

He's just showing up in Ronkonkoma now. But Scott Patrohay isn't coming alone. As president of Cummins Power Systems, he's dropping 30 new jobs-decent salaries, solid bennies, and a company that's been around almost a century into a shell of a building on Veterans Memorial Boulevard. At a more robust time, this might be ho-hum news. But new jobs, real jobs, industrial-sales jobs on Long Island in 2012? Stop the presses, now! Back in 1919, company founder Clessie Lyle Cummins was one of the first to recognize the enormous commercial potential of an engine technology invented at the turn of the century by Rudolf Diesel. Last year, the parent company had $18 billion in sales. Welcome to the neighborhood.

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