Let's make this simple. John Kerry is the candidate for those who wish we hadn't gone to war in Iraq. But John Kerry can't admit that, even though everyone knows it is true.
Kerry has been at such pains to keep this basic point as fuzzy as possible because an honestly antiwar candidate couldn't win the presidency in 2004. Sometimes he offers arcane explanations containing paragraphs like Rube Goldberg contraptions. Sometimes he speaks in a unique Kerry grammar one could call the future-past perfect. When asked if we were right to invade Iraq, he has responded that it depends on what happens in the future. And other times he's said we were right. And other times he's said we were wrong.
But my favorite response was when he was asked if we'd have gone to war with Iraq if he'd been president, and he shot back confidently, "You bet we might have."
Kerry cannot be honest about the most elemental issue of the election because he will lose the election if he does, and rightly so.
That's the central explanation for Bush's huge advantage over Kerry on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism. It's amazing when you think about it. The media, the United Nations, the French and the Democrats have thrown everything imaginable, fair and unfair, at Bush, and he still leads by double digits on the issue of who's better at fighting the war on terrorism and winning in Iraq.
All of these pro-war pundits and bloggers who've defected to Kerry because of Bush's alleged "incompetence" need to explain why the candidate they now prefer is not the undisputed preference of the American people when it comes to national security. Surely all of these people can't be morons.The answer, I think, lies in the lessons of 9/11. If you live in a house infested by rats, you may think it's OK to tolerate them for a while. They're just a "nuisance," as John Kerry might say. You might, if you're Bill Clinton, tolerate a series of "minor" rat attacks. But when one of your children dies from a bite, you do everything you can to kill the rats and plug up all the rat holes to protect your family. You don't care which specific rat was responsible for the death. You simply do everything necessary to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. In the post-9/11 world George Bush faced a world with a lot of rat holes. The most obvious, urgent and "doable" rat hole was in Baghdad.
Whatever Bush's faults, the one thing a majority of Americans are confident of is that he wants to win the war on terror in Iraq and around the world, no matter what. About John Kerry they just can't be too sure. That's why I think Bush will win and why I think he should.