That's because he did what everyone was expecting. You don't get credit for doing what is expected of you.
Kerry seems focused on the debates as when he will win the election. During the early primaries he beat Dean with, "Don't you want to see me debating George Bush? Bring it on." That and his status as a Viet Nam veteran were the sum of his campaign.
Now, Kerry and the entire Democratic establishment are looking forward to Edwards nailing Cheney in a vice-presidential debate.
As far as a comparison with Cheney, there quite frankly is none. No amount of scowling or shifty-eyed sneering is going to dig Cheney out of the PR hole that will be the Vice Presidential debate.
Edwards has made a very successful career out of eating folks like Dick Cheney for lunch in courtrooms all across America. He'll know exactly how to wield Halliburton like a stiletto. I give Cheney 30 minutes before he drops his first F-bomb. I can't wait.
Remember, Gore was supposed to do the same to Bush in 2000. Bush, the D-student could not hope to compete with Gore the policy wonk. When Bush held his own the Democrats complained about lower expectations. Expectations for Bush were so low that all he had to do was walk onto stage without tripping and he did better than expected.
The Democrats are doing it to themselves again. Kerry is selling himself to the faithful on how he and Edwards will rip up Bush and Cheney.
It won't happen.
First, Bush and Cheney are seasoned campaigners. They know how to debate.
Second, the presidential debates are not real debates. They are joint press conferences. Edwards cannot pull Halliburton out of thin air and use it. He has to wait for an opening. This is not a trial where the attorney controls the questions. For the candidates it is closer to being on the witness stand. The debates they had last Fall will not help much. The rules have changed. Back then the unspoken agreement was that the candidates would not attack each other, they would promote themselves while attacking Bush. Things get different when the person you are attacking is sharing the stage with you and attacking back. Just ask Dean.
Finally, the Democrats have raised the bar too high. Again. In order to win they will have to win big and they will have to do it without seeming mean. Carter and Mondale couldn't do it with Reagan, Gore couldn't do it with Bush.
One last observation - Edwards' based his campaign on "two Americas". He will have to drop this pretty quick while he shares the stage with Kerry. Even more than Bush, Kerry embodies the privledged rich.