Ron Browstien looks at how the security issue benefits Bush.

A telling question in recent polls has asked voters whether it is more important that the next president be a strong leader or someone who cares about people like them. Voters, by a solid majority, have preferred a strong leader.

Bush is banking on it. He is running for reelection after a first term virtually certain to leave him as the only president since Herbert Hoover to suffer a net loss of jobs during his term. And since he took office, the federal deficit has hit record heights, the median family income has fallen, poverty is up and the number of Americans without health insurance has jumped by nearly 5.2 million.

In most times, a president running on that record probably wouldn’t be favored, and all of those issues could still hurt Bush. But he has regained the lead in this year’s race because he has reestablished crushing advantages over Kerry on questions relating to security.

Democrats, with considerable justification, complain that Republicans such as Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) are fanning unreasonable fears by arguing that terrorists would be more likely to strike again if Kerry won, or would even prefer his victory.

But those charges aren’t at the center of Kerry’s difficulties: His real problem is that Bush has convinced most voters he has a stronger backbone and a clearer vision of how to protect America.

First, I’d like to point out that the Herbert Hoover crack is wrong. It would have been true, except that the Bush tax cuts created more than enough jobs to offset the job loss at the beginning of his term and, notwithstanding that, Hoover didn’t preside over a country that came under attack.

Now, the rest of the article has merit. Whether you agree or not or approve or not, the fact of the matter is that Bush has done quite well at proving himself on the security issue. Kerry is only now taking a solid stand, and it is the Howard Dean stand — “let’s surrender without calling it surrender.”