Mr. Kerry therefore sought above all to make the case that he could be trusted to lead a nation at war, and rightly so; he and Mr. Bush must be judged first and foremost on those grounds. But on that basis, though Mr. Kerry spoke confidently and eloquently, his speech was in many respects a disappointment.
The responsibility of sending troops into danger should weigh on a commander in chief. But so must the responsibility of protecting the nation against a shadowy foe not easily deterred by traditional means. Mr. Kerry last night elided the charged question of whether, as president, he would have gone to war in Iraq. He offered not a word to celebrate the freeing of Afghans from the Taliban, or Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and not a word about helping either nation toward democracy. . . .
Nor did Mr. Kerry's statements about future threats do justice to the complexity of today's challenge. . . . Mr. Kerry missed an opportunity for straight talk.
I agree. Meanwhile, Holman Jenkins observes: "It's no secret a great many Democrats are skeptical of Mr. Kerry. These are exactly the Democrats now arguing that he can win by signaling to voters an end to America's exertions, an end to drama, a time of rest. That's the real message of Mr. Kerry's constant invoking of Vietnam. That's the real strength of his campaign: I was daring and adventurous then, and had my fill."