rather than "4 years ago". In a way, this was almost more the media than the Republicans who in the lead up to the Democratic convention framed the convention's bar as positively answering Reagan's question. When Reagan asked it, there was no massive change between "now" and the start of Carter's administration. (Note that their definition of Romney's bar was one that Obama walked over without trying - to be seen as likable or at least human. Talk about benefiting from grading on a curve.)
Bill Clinton had the excellent line that said something like - In Tampa, they were saying that they had left a big mess, Obama had not cleaned it up fast enough - so people have to put them back in. That line - and the Biden response - OBL is dead and GM is alive answer it very well.
The media/Republican question INTENTIONALLY gives Obama the last 5 months of the Bush administration. Kerry gets it right on the economic side when he refers to the monthly job loss when Obama came in.
Kerry also made a serious case that, as troubled as the world is, we are more respected and safer.
There were two points where Kerry seemed to speak more personally or intensely - when he said the US is not torturing and when he seemed disgusted that Romney did not speak to the troops. (I would love to have seen Kerry's face when Romney said that his speech was not a laundry list - and he spoke of only what was important or when he equated speaking of military funding and the troops. )