I didn’t hear the whole speech, but CNN played excerpts from the parts of Kerry’s speech where he scathingly attacked Bush’s execution of the war in Iraq. At least in the excerpts, Kerry didn’t pull any punches. At one point, Kerry said that half of the names on the Vietnam Memorial were there because of the misguided pride of America’s leaders and that Bush, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz are repeating the same mistakes. Kerry’s proposal: we should go back to the U.N. and go international in Iraq as soon as possible. There’s no transcript on his website, but presumably one will be available soon at http://www.johnkerry.com/news/#speeches.
Kerry’s attacks are almost surely good for any candidate that emerges, other than Kerry himself. Non-Kerry candidates can say “Kerry makes many valid and important points,” effectively attacking Bush, but without actually doing so. Whether Kerry’s U.N.-heavy message will resonate in his favor among swing voters remains to be seen.