But in political terms, "tamping down" means something else entirely. Tomorrow marks the first debate in the 2012 Presidential Sweepstakes, and all eyes are on the performances of President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. Every question posed by the moderator is a potential minefield for each of them, with any misstep to be dissected over and over on the cable news networks for days.
In a race this tight, any mistake could be huge.
Both camps are trying to lower expectations for their guy, not wanting to seem overconfident or optimistic. If you're carrying a swagger going in and come out with your tail between your legs, it can be devastating.
So there's a lot of "tamping down" going on. Romney's camp points to the President's famed oratory skills (despite the fact that Obama's a fairly poor debater) and Obama's team is pointing to Mitt's successful debate performances as an indicator of the juggernaut their guy faces tomorrow.
In the end, it probably won't amount to a hill of dirt next to a fence post. They'll both play to the center, avoid the self-inflicted gaffe, and if all goes well they'll shake hands at the end of the night and start spinning the results as soon as they leave the debate hall.
I'm pretty sure I'll tune in, unless something else comes along that promises fewer scripted moments.
You see, I've seen this tamp bar thing in action, and it's not as fun as it looks.