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.

And from Roger Kimball:

Probably Romney’s single best line last night was “Attacking me is not an agenda,” but his more devastating responses centered on two large issues: the president’s record, which has been an unmitigated litany of failure, and his lack of a coherent plan going forward.

“Forward,” of course, is the president’s campaign slogan, and Romney adroitly turned that around: Yes, we need to go forward, but another Obama term would mean going back to the failed policies that brought you a $16 trillion federal debt ($5.5 trillion added all by his lonesome self in less than fours years), high unemployment, record deficits, record numbers of people on food stamps, high energy prices, etc., etc.

For his part, the president returned again and agin to two themes: 1. it was Bush’s fault (with Dick Cheney thrown in at one point to frighten the children), where by “it” I mean whatever problem is at hand, foreign or domestic: it’s all Bush’s fault, unless there was a success, in which case, the glory is all Obama’s; and 2. we can solve the economic crisis by asking “the wealthy” to pay a little bit more.

Blaming George Bush for anything at this point, four years on, is simply embarrassing, so I will pass over that. But it is worth spending a moment on the president’s aria about “the rich.”

Read the whole thing.