Last January, President Bush delivered a State of the Union address that focused on our successes in the war on terrorism and our progress in Iraq. I thought it was an excellent and powerful speech. The public did not. Polls showed that Bush actually lost ground in the days immediately following. One generally accepted reason was the public’s concern over the economy, about which the president talked briefly and ineffectively.
So far, the big-ticket speeches at the Republican convention have dealt almost exclusively with foreign policy and the war on terrorism. Apparently, yesterday was supposed to be about domestic issues, but Arnold had very little to say about the current state of the economy other than to assert that it has come back. His admonition not to be economic “girlie men” was a good line, and apt. But once the glow of Arnold recedes, it will not satisfy swing voters with economic concerns. Laura Bush had an effective few minutes talking about domestic issues, but it was only by way of transition to her main topics, terrorism and 9/11.
The Republicans have a decent story to tell about the economy. Bush inherited a recession, the economy was jolted by 9/11 and corporate scandals, but now, following the Bush tax cuts, it has bounced back. But the story needs to be told and (at least as to the last point) substantiated with numbers. Viewers, it seems to me, need to hear that in the past year we have experienced historically high economic growth numbers as well as rapid and substantial job creation. Some of this is in the president’s stump speech, so viewers may hear about it on Thursday. I’d like for them to start hearing about it tonight.
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