The past four years have seen a drastic re-casting of the party roles. Democrats, for decades painted by opponents as "soft on national security," spent large parts of their convention talking up president's military bona fides. The Republican convention, by contrast, mostly avoided discussing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Romney's address did not mention the conflicts once.
When the Democrats convened the following week, what former President George W. Bush called the "War on Terror" was still in full effect, as the talking points suggested: A surge of American troops, as ordered by the president, had beaten back the Taliban in Afghanistan; a deadly campaign of drone strikes on the Pakistan border had decimated al Qaeda; and, of course, the big one -- Osama Bin Laden had been killed during a midnight raid, authorized without the permission of the government in Islamabad.
Romney might take a hard rhetorical line on Syria, China, and Russia, he might denounce America's "leading from behind" in Libya, Democrats said, but these things had actually happened, all under the guidance of President Obama.
John Kerry, who bore the brunt of Republican attacks on his ability to competently manage "national security" during his failed 2004 presidential run, seemed to thrill in returning the favor during his speech last week in Charlotte.
"No nominee for president should ever fail in the midst of a war to pay tribute to our troops overseas in his acceptance speech," Kerry said, making reference to Romney's omission. "They are on the front lines every day defending America, and they deserve our thanks."
And for moment, as senator from Massachusetts spoke, it almost sounded like 2004 again.