You don't hear much from Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards (search) these days — unless somebody on the Republican side ventures an opinion on how John Kerry would handle terrorists. Then suddenly Edwards is in front of an American flag somewhere promising to kick Usama's rear end from one end of North Carolina to the other.

When I was promoting my book a while back, I used to say that as a matter of faith I didn't think a President Kerry, or a President Clinton would do much different after a 9/11 than President Bush did. Back then it was primary season and Kerry was lecturing Howard Dean on how important it was that Saddam was gone.

Now, Dean and Saddam are gone and Kerry is challenging my point about him, saying he'd do everything different than George Bush.

In the Cold War we had a missile gap. Now we've got a macho gap.

Kerry can't let Bush appear to be tougher.

So when Dick Cheney says he thinks John Kerry wouldn't do as good a job on chasing terrorists with our military, Edwards pops up screaming bloody murder about the politics of fear.

Saturday, when Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert ventured a guess that Al Qaeda would like Kerry to win, Edwards again appeared on TV lecturing Hastert about the politics of fear.

Monday, it was Kerry who said he'd conduct a more sensitive War on Terror, implying less military action and more chasing terrorists with prosecutors and jail terms. So how was Cheney so out of line?

And, when it comes to Hastert, does anybody really think Al Qaeda doesn't want regime change in America? Of course they'd like to see Kerry win, because it means George Bush gets kicked out of the White House.

I'd be happy to stipulate that Al Qaeda wants to kill Americans under either President Bush, or President Kerry.

The real politics of fear is what Al Qaeda is up to, not what Cheney and Hastert say in campaign speeches.