Foreign policy may play a small -- if occasionally bizarre and amusing -- role in American elections, but defense spending is a different beast, allowing candidates to blend the best (and worst) of American patriotism with that all-important campaign theme: jobs.
This season, a slew of ads -- many anti-Obama, all anti-Democrat -- are warning that looming defense cuts threaten tens or even hundreds of thousands of jobs, mostly in battleground states it seems. Of course, it was Congress -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- who voted for nearly $1 trillion in mandatory defense spending cuts, with last year's Budget Control Act accounting for about half and the sequester set to begin in January providing the other. But never mind.
For better or worse, Democrats have a few tricks up their sleeves as well, including the shameless use of random veterans to attack their opponents' character. Fortunately, Republicans have a thick skin and a willingness to tar their competitors as anti-American. It all makes for good fun since we're not talking about anything serious like, say, the defense of the nation.
So, as the 2012 election season draws to a close, here are our favorite contributions to political discussion of the military.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images