First, speaking as the son of a Marine Corps officer and the brother of a Navy officer, I think Obama’s “horses and bayonets” wisecrack wasn’t his biggest miscalculation. All that did was lose him the military vote in the Norfolk area and thus, most likely, the state of Virginia. Rather, it was the weird way he kept conflating the war-fighting purpose of the military with “taking care” of the veterans after they come home. Military personnel deeply resent the implication, so earnestly peddled by the bed-wetting civilians at the New York Times, among others, that returning vets are just a PTSD psycho hair-trigger away from going postal. They’re soldiers, Mr. President, not crybabies.
Second, I think the moment that won the debate, and perhaps the election, for Romney came near the end, when Romney was speaking and Obama fixed him with the Punahou Death Stare . . . and Romney just kept right on going, making his points directly to Obama, entirely unflustered by the president’s juvenile tactics. That spoke volumes about the character of the two men and no one who was watching could have missed it.