As for the backtracking and evasiveness of the administration, it is an election year, and the Dems have pretty clearly announced that that they will not let intellectual consistency stand in the way of criticizing Bush. John Kerry surely doesn't mind if his critiques of the president imply that he and his colleagues tried to tell Dubya that there were no WMDs, but he just wouldn't goddamn listen. Plainly, Bush has gotten himself into a messy foreign policy spot and is trying to save his ass. Further, he seems to be on the brink of doing some stupid things (like blowing off midwifing Iraqi democracy) so that he can win a second term.
I think I've made it pretty clear that I don't relish the prospect of voting for Bush. His domestic policy is a disgrace, his fiscal discipline would make Tip O'Neill blush, and I trust his less and less to make the hard foreign policy decisions that will be required in the next four years (e.g., telling the North Koreans to get bent, supporting the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and telling Syria to sit down and behave or they might find themselves importing weapons from the U.S. -- which shipment we will deliver from 40,000 feet). Nonetheless, if it looks like my vote can keep Bush in office, I'll cast it. The Democrats' message (to a man, now that Lieberman is out) is that we return to pre-9/11 foreign policy, not piss off our "allies," and place the fight against terrorism under a law-enforcement rubric. Such ideas are, respectively, blind, stupid, and suicidal.