Good for John Kerry. By picking John Edwards he has given the voters a real choice. The conventional wisdom in Washington held that Kerry would be smart to pick someone who underscored his national security credentials. Picking a Wesley Clark or even a Dick Gephardt would signal that Kerry wasn't going to let the Bush team out-hawk him on the war on terror and foreign policy.
By picking Edwards, Kerry has made it clear that he doesn't think this election should be framed on Bush's terms and that he wants to make a very different case to the American people.
Simply put, if Kerry really thought the war on terror was as big a deal as Bush does, there's no way he would pick John Edwards. Edwards is simply not qualified to be one heartbeat from the presidency in the world George Bush describes. Indeed, during the primaries even Kerry asked his aides about Edwards, "What makes him think he can be president?"
Clearly, Kerry has answered that question to his own satisfaction. And that answer has to be that the war on terror isn't that big a deal. We've had hints to this effect for a while. Several times he's suggested that he considers the war on terrorism a "law enforcement issue." And, in February, Kerry was asked at the Minnesota Democratic debate if he considered himself a "war president" the way Bush does. Kerry responded: "I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president. So I would see myself as a very different kind of global leader than George Bush."
Around that time he also noted that he was much more qualified to be president than John Edwards because "I think that the world is looking for leadership that is tested and sure. And I think that George Bush has proven that this is not a time for inexperience in the White House."
Factor in the relatively miniscule attention Kerry paid to foreign policy when he announced Edwards as his running mate, and you get the sense that Kerry is now committed to the view that Bush is simply making too big a fuss about the war on terror and the need to stick it out in Iraq. The only appearance of the word "terrorism" was a glancing reference to Edwards' collaboration with Kerry on "bioterrorism." And twice Kerry mentioned the need to "build strong alliances" as the central priority of his foreign policy, so "young Americans are never put in harm's way because we insisted on going it alone." Let's leave it to another to ask what Kerry would do if we needed to go it alone to protect all Americans, not just young ones in uniform.