Where To Go From Here

Tonight, President Bush will have to make the speech of his political life. Most of what happens at a convention doesn’t matter unless something happens to go wrong. What does matter is how the candidate presents himself to the American people.

There are two words that President Bush doesn’t have to speak tonight – “John Kerry.” The last three nights have rhetorically beaten Kerry into a pulp, and right now Bush has no need to bring him up again. Now Bush has to paint his agenda for the country.

One thing Bush needs to do is raise the issue of the economy. Even though that remains Bush’s weakest issue, he can’t avoid it. I rather doubt he will. His “ownership society” rhetoric has been refined on the campaign trail over the last few weeks, and it’s quite likely we’ll be hearing a lot of it tonight. It’s a positive agenda that is based on conservative principles – similar to the “compassionate conservatism”of 2000. I think the Democratic fear-mongering on the economy is not hitting home as it should. Yes, some people are nervous, but most of them don’t blame Bush. Had Kerry hit on the economy more strongly in Boston Bush could be hurting right now – but since Kerry did not Bush has the opportunity to take some initiative on it.

It’s important that Bush articulate a vision. Kerry failed at this last month. His candidacy was based on his Vietnam service combined with the assumption that everyone hates Bush and wants a change. It didn’t work. Now Bush has to speak knowing that a lot of people are hesitant about his leadership and worried about the future. Zell Miller got the hellfire and brimestone out of the way. Now Bush’s speech has to be the Paradiso to Miller’s Inferno.

I have a feeling Bush has a very strong chance of pulling it off. He can’t afford an off night again. He has to show strength not only on terrorism and national defense, but on the economy and jobs as well. He has to reassure voters in his leadership. Kerry has left an opening for him to do so, now it’s up to the President to take it. He has a very lofty goal to achieve, but he has done this before.

President Bush is not a great orator – even his supporters admit it. However, he has the common touch that the patrician Kerry does not. He has the strength of his convictions that Kerry does not. He has an economic plan that will strengthen America, while Kerry does not. He has a sense of deep personal faith that Kerry does not. Without naming him specifically, Bush has an excellent opportunity to draw the distinction between himself and his opponent.

We’ll see if he can pull it off tonight.

UPDATE: Seems like Bush will be following that plan tonight…

2 thoughts on “Where To Go From Here

  1. Bush can’t say anything on the economy that hasn’t been said before and only serves to further discredit his ideology by suggesting that staying the course of the last four years will produce a different outcome in the next four. Offering “new proposals” is shrewd though. However bad they may be, the GOP can effectively claim that they’ve stolen the “visionary” title from the Democrats by comparing Bush’s “new ideas” to those of Kerry’s.

    Kerry certainly did squander an opportunity by glossing over the economy, although it’s unlikely Kerry would have been noticeably better off in the polls right now even if he did. Ultimately, I expect the main Bush theme to be the single trump card he has that could buy him four years…reliving 9-11 over and over and over, and feeding the ridiculous public perception that his administration monopolizes the answers on foreign policy by serving up generous heaps of white-knuckled paranoia that “only he can save us from.” Essentially, Bush needs to draw attention to Lex Luthor in order for people to care that he’s the Man of Steel, and thus the only capable of saving us. If not for the fact that Bush is already steering a boat over troubled waters, he’d be 10 points behind right now. If he’s to win this election, he needs to capitalize on public fear…and judging by the way the convention has gone so far, I’m expecting he will.

  2. It looks as though Bush’s post-convention buzz will be drowned out by another Florida hurricane. This could help him or hurt him. If the speech is spectacular, nobody will be hearing about how he dazzled the world. However, if the speech is horrific, people will quickly forget how awful it was. Kind of ironic that Florida has the potential to make or break the Bush Presidency even before the election.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.