Wretchard encapsulates the substantive policy difference between the parties:
two opposing, and therefore contradictory visions, are contending for the electorate this November. The first argues that despite the shortcomings of multilateralism, diplomacy and concession, it is still the best way to settle accounts with radical Islam. It will concede that more might have been done to prevent September 11 but it will maintain steadfastly that the alternative, which was to strike at enemies the way they have struck at us is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. And by exclusion it will maintain that whatever the dangers of Clintonian policy the world was safer then than it is today. Ths second point of view will argue that eight years of wilfull blindness; supporting Bosnian Muslims; ignorning the A. Q. Khan network of nuclear proliferation, buying North Korea its own reactors and receiving Yasser Araft at the White House; the whole policy of concession, bought not a whit of safety. It will argue that our enemies are even now on the point of obtaining nuclear weapons to turn against us, and will if we return to the policies of the past. It will concede that there have been disappointments in Iraq, but that by any historical yardstick our progress to victory — and here is the unique word — has been steady, irresistable and therefore inevitable.
The first point can be reasonably argued. The question is why the Democrats have chosen liars and cheaters to do so (Wilson, Clarke, Berger) and whether they can really argue that there was a tolerable multi-lateral alternative in Iraq..