We saw this in evidence most strikingly earlier in the year, when Bush gave a dismal state of the union address and a poor interview on Meet the Press; the man cannot think on his feet, and it’s only within the artificially safe and meticulously orchestrated context of the Republican National Convention that he’s able to appear clear-headed. His recent assertion that the war on terror can’t be won, a rare attempt to broach nuance, is a good example of his inability to draw a mental map of the challenges that lay before us.
What I’m talking about is engaging the Bush-Cheney campaign with something closer to the tactics they use so wantonly: the willingness to paint the opponent in a reductive, grossly oversimplified light. Kerry is often accused of being a slave to nuance, but he’d better disabuse himself of that habit immediately. This is a fight, a real fight — the most important one of his career and one of the most important of my lifetime — and it’s nasty but only going to get nastier. I expect John Kerry to rise to the challenge and hit back hard and with great precision, and I know I’m not the only one. It had just better happen soon.