Larry Elder

Actually, Cheney cited Kerry's flip-flopping, his "wrong call on national security," his inadequate support of our troops and his record of voting against major weapons programs. A clearly irritated Kerry said, "I guess I'll leave it up to the voters," said Kerry, "whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty." Hm-mm. Does this apply to Kerry's running mate John Edwards? Since Kerry now seems to attack Vietnam-era men who could have served, what about Edwards?

After shaking up his top advisers, Kerry apparently intends to focus on the economy. Here again, Kerry faces trouble. He criticizes the Bush administration for "inheriting a surplus and turning it into a deficit." But the National Taxpayers' Union added up Kerry's spending proposals: more than $2.26 trillion over a 10-year period of time. To "pay for" the spending, Kerry intends to repeal Bush's "tax cuts for the rich."

Bush's critics reject the argument that tax cuts improve the economy, thus increasing tax revenues. They claim the tax cut "cost" the Treasury approximately $100 billion a year. Still, this does not close the deficit. Kerry claims to be strong on national security, and does not intend to reduce spending on national security and homeland defense. So who pays?

So let's sum up. The Democrats offer a candidate fuzzy on the war in Iraq, and who infuriated over two-and-a-half-million Vietnam vets by accusing them of engaging in widespread atrocities. He criticizes Bush for excessive spending -- record deficit! -- while offering even bigger spending proposals. Kerry talks down an economy with 12 consecutive months of job growth, and with an unemployment rate -- 5.4 percent -- roughly the same rate as when Bill Clinton ran for re-election in 1996.

The passion at the DNC registered high on the anti-Bush quotient and low on pro-Kerry sentiment. Republicans, on the other hand, salute President Bush as a principled, unpretentious, likable man with an intense love for his wife and family. First lady Laura Bush stands as the epitome of class, dignity and grace.

Some pundits expect the race to tighten again, and suggest the upcoming debates as race-changing variables. Perhaps. But, above all, Americans want a leader they trust, and whose positions they know, even when they don't agree.

Good luck, Sen. Kerry. You'll need it.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit