Friday, September 3 2004
I was bored by the first half of the President's speech, I don't know whether it was burn out from listening to too many speeches the past four days or the speech itself. But there is no question that I felt the first half was average, about the same as Kerry's speech in Boston. Now I am not criticizing the rationale for laying out in a 'State of the Union' type of fashion, the President's domestic agenda and first term accomplishments, and from a strategic standpoint it actually made quite a bit of sense, and in many ways, was vitally necessary from a political perspective to complete the speech as a whole.

However, after the initial slowness, the President was able to get in a few shots at Kerry on important issues with out appearing mean or too negative:

And here, you face a choice. My opponent's policies are dramatically different from ours.

Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and health savings accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he now wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed doubling the child credit, opposed lowering income taxes for all who pay them.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for.

He's proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.....

My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of "conservative values," which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters.

Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I'm afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values.

If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values.

If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan presidency eight years of "moral darkness," then you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them.

But is it was the last third of the President's speech where Bush really hit the ball out of the park. The whole week had systematically focused the nation's attention on 9/11 and the President's prosecution of the War on Terror. And there was a noticeable pickup in the President's intensity and the connection of his message when he moved into the portion of the speech defending his administration's approach to the War.

Unlike Senator Kerry who refused at his convention to lay out a vision for the War, and who still today appears conflicted and ambiguous on how to precede, the President unapologetically told the American people his vision of how this War needs to be prosecuted. But it was the connection the President made on a human level with the American people, where the most devastating political points were scored.

By opening up to reveal a humility and compassion, that is hard to square with the caricature most commonly offered by his political opponents, the President was able to scrape away some of the scar tissue that had begun to accumulate the last six months:

In the last four years -- in the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand.

You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes have to correct my English.

I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it.

Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking."

Now and then I come across as a little too blunt, and for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there.

One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them; and whatever strengths you have, you're going to need them.

These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I've tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September the 11th: people who showed me a picture or told me a story so I would know how much was taken from them.

I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision even when it is right.

I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job.

I've held the children of the fallen who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom. I've met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved.

I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me.

Where does that strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride?

It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost.

And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent and idealistic and strong.

This sequence was unbelievably great, and nothing in John Kerry's speech last month came even close to this level. This was the President Bush of October 2001, the President Bush of 70% job approval ratings, and it will serve as a powerful reminder to many Americans of what they like and admire in George W. Bush.

Of course, the Left is so jaded and cynical toward the President this will have no effect at all with those individuals. But for the millions of voters who are anxious and unsure, voters that both campaigns are desperately trying to move into their corner, these words from the President are exactly what they wanted to hear from their Commander in Chief.

So given the political necessity of defending his first term domestic accomplishments and the real need to outline a vision, domestically, for where he wants to lead the country. The speech has to be seen as a real home run. And a fitting conclusion to an extremely effective week for the Bush campaign. J. McIntyre 10:23 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend


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