When I read In defence of the fence back in February, 2003 I thought to myself: "This is my stance on the Iraq war". I just re-read it, and it is amazing how accurate his predictions have been. From sceptisism to the quality of intelligence, to the post-war quagmire and ethnic rivalries, it seems to me that Garton Ash pretty much saw what was going to happen and why Bush did what he did.
So, given that a mere British historian was able to predict what would happen in Iraq, why couldn't Bush/Cheney? They had access to intelligence reports, the state department, heads of state, and millions of federal workers. The answer is, of course, that they didn't care about accurate predictions of what would happen. Their own agenda was their only concern (as Blind Into Baghdad - a long read but well worth it - details).
Why is this relevant? Well, the ability to predict both "the future" in general, and the consequences of one's own actions in particular, is a critical factor when judging COMPETENCE. And the Bush administration has basically proven itself INCOMPETENT, blinded by its own stubbornness.
Perhaps Kerry should stop talking about issues such as his Vietnam record or the Economy altogether. His campaign seems to be aimed at making people like him, which just isn't going to happen. He's not a very strong candidate, as commentators are increasingly pointing out. But I believe he has a basic grasp of the issues, and that he would be a COMPETENT president. That's a much easier sell, especially if they focus their attacks on all those areas where Bush has had good intentions and the right rhetoric but he's screwed up in the execution...