George Bush is now in position to turn a close race into a comfortable lead that he never again relinquishes.
#ad#The president has had a remarkably good two weeks, perhaps his best two weeks of the year, thanks in part to the Swift Boat Veterans’ ads. Voters are getting to know John Kerry, and they are sick of him already.
This race has many similarities to the 1984 Reagan and 1996 Clinton re-election contests. In both of those campaigns the race was relatively close until the presidents shone at their respective conventions, and Mondale and Dole were simply left in the dust. It’s hard to believe in retrospect that anyone ever believed that those elections would be close. They weren’t, and if Bush performs well on Thursday night, this race won’t be especially close either. What’s more, if he can put a comfortable distance between himself and Kerry in the polls, I predict that Democratic candidates from the South and the West will start distancing themselves from Kerry–and the entire ticket will crash like a house of cards.
So what can Bush do to put Kerry away? Here are some tips for how the president can knock this speech out of the park:
‐ Trumpet the economic gains of the past two years. Bush has the lowest misery index (inflation plus unemployment) of any president since LBJ. The stock market is up 20 percent since the tax cut. Our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the industrialized world. The recession began under Clinton: Bush inherited the economic slump; he didn’t create it. America is on the mend and growing. Sound the trumpet for growth and optimism. People are tired of the whiny Left, which keeps talking down America with preposterous rhetoric about the worst economy since Herbert Hoover.
‐ Propose private accounts for Social Security. Why not create 50-75 million new investor-class Americans by converting Social Security into a private account system? There’s no better way to win the hearts and souls of young voters.
‐ End the tyranny of the IRS tax code by offering an optional flat tax for tax filers. Bush has gotten us halfway to a consumption tax through his reductions in the income tax, the death tax, and the capital-gains tax. Let’s finish the job by offering every American a postcard return with a 19 percent tax rate and only one deduction–for his kids. If workers want to choose the flat tax, fine; if they want to stay with the complicated system, let them.
‐ Trash the trial lawyers. There are two Americas: trial lawyers who get rich raping American businesses and consumers (à la John Edwards), and everyone else!
‐ Get Arnold up on stage with you! Arnold is the most popular politician in America. He’s the Kerry-Terminator.
‐ Appoint a new Grace Commission to root out the waste and inefficiencies embedded in the federal budget. If Bush won’t control spending, get a commission to shine a spotlight on how many of America’s tax dollars go down the federal rat hole. Polls show that most Americans believe that anywhere between 25 and 50 cents on the dollar is wasted, and they’re probably right.
‐ Be Reaganesque: Make people laugh–and make people laugh at Kerry. Bush has a habit of taking himself too seriously. These are serious times, but a little humor and light-hearted ridicule aimed at Kerry can help vanquish this dour left-winger.
In the last ten days, the odds of Bush’s winning have risen from 52 percent to 57 percent on most betting lines. The smart money is moving toward Bush. After the convention he should be trading at 60 cents or more on the dollar, if he shines during primetime. And if that happens, liberals–so desperate to take back power from the Right–are going to start panicking and then start eating their young. This should be fun to watch.
–Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.