A piece in today’s WaPo Style section reports that John Kerry merely has to say the word Vietnam to evoke applause. “It is shorthand,” writes Mark Leibovich, “for Kerry’s machismo, his foreign policy credentials and his refusal to succumb to the ‘Republican smear machine”ingredients in the magic dust that many believe will make him the most electable Democrat against President Bush.”

Interesting that John McCain, another vet who ran for president, got less traction out of his service than Kerry. But that, of course, was before 9/11.

The 2004 race will pit a September 10 candidate against a September 12 president,” says the subhead in Fred Barnes’ Weekly Standard piece on “The Great Divide” in the coming race. Ironically, the Sept. 10 candidate, Kerry, benefits from the tragic event that made his military service so relevant.

But his outlook is fundamentally unsuited to the new world in which we live: “[A] Sept 10 person,” writes Barnes, “was outraged by the attacks but not traumatized. A Sept. 10 person thinks the world still exists as we perceived it before the attacks and thus hasn’t fundamentally changed. A Sept 10 person regards the fight against radical Islamic terrorism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement and intelligence. Full-blown military engagement is not required.”

In other words, Kerry is the anti-war war hero’no change from his stand lo these many years. Will it continue to work? “Some critics’even some fans’have accused Kerry of over-invoking Vietnam, to the point where perhaps he’s diminished some of its luster,” reports the WaPo story. And it’s only February’