I'm a little late with this - been a busy week - but I've got a beef with the conventional wisdom that formed around the third and final presidential debate, focused on foreign policy.
First, a point of agreement. The mainstream interpretation of Mitt Romney's staid performance goes like this: he was attempting to project moderation, appeal to suburban women with his calls for peace, and present as a reasonable commander-in-chief. I think that's probably right. And there's probably something to the commentariat's suggestion that the GOP nominee was acting like a candidate confident of the trajectory of the race - and, therefore, not required to go on the offensive.
But quite a few talking heads suggested that Obama's more aggressive style was a sign of a candidate worried about where the campaign was headed and determined to knock down his surging opponent. I don't think that's right.
First, despite the growing confidence in Romneyland, the polls still gave President Obama a small edge in the swing states heading into the debate; the famously cool president was probably not in a state of panic.
Second, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Obama camp counted on Romney to be his usual, reasonably aggressive self in the final debate. The president - especially after letting Romney walk all over him in the first debate - was prepared to confront that aggressiveness with his own.
In short, I think the president was simply executing a standard - and understandable - debate strategy. The attempt to read more into it goes too far.