I don't believe, in his gut, Kerry believes that we face an existential challenge with regard to the war on terror.I think he (Greg of belgraviadispatch.com) is right, Kerry doesn't believe we're facing an existential challenge. And neither do I. I think the present threat to the Western world is just like the threat to the UK from IRA. Except there are ten million who sympathize with the terrorists, not a hundred thousand. There is an underlying cause for grievance (repression, inequality) among a people bound by religious beliefs and cultural heritage. Among them is a small minority of (mostly) young men who have taken to arms.
I will give Bush (and the neocons) this: The long-term solution to Islamic terrorism is to remove the two major causes for grievance. Promoting democracy in the Middle East addresses one of them (the other being US support for the Israeli repression of Palestinians). Bush has made some progress, I think Arab dictators are more afraid and more inclined to change now than they have been in a long time. But in order to succeed you need success in one key area; you must win the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens. And here Bush is failing so miserably he has to go.
Kerry may not scare as many Arab dictators, and he may favor a return to "normal" foreign relations which include propping up Arab dictators. He may (unlike Clinton) favor Bush's status quo on Palestine (most American Jews are Democrats, and the American public in general has been scared into silence over anything that has to do with Israel). But Kerry genuinely believes in multilateralism which means he can't possibly piss off as many people as Bush did. Add some fiscal responsibility and restraints on corporate hand-outs and I think you have a good enough reason to support Kerry.