Last week's Republican National Convention was a success, as was the Democratic convention a month ago. The heavyweight speeches by Sen. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Gen. Tommy Franks, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Give-'em-Hell-Zell" Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney were capped off by the president's own masterful performance - possibly the best of his life. The GOP got a tremendous bounce the Democrats failed to achieve, which launched the president into a double-digit lead over Sen. John Kerry.
Although the full shape of his vision has yet to be fleshed out, the president presented a comprehensive agenda for creating an ownership society through health-care savings accounts, personal retirement accounts and fundamentally reforming and simplifying our cumbersome tax code to maximize economic growth. With this bold outline, President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet for the Kerry campaign to answer even while the president goes about filling in the blanks that still remain.
For the Democrats, serious questions remain: Does Kerry have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people, faith in the U.S. economy? Is he going to remain pessimistic about our economy? Will he keep saying this is the worst economy since the Great Depression? In short, is he going to allow the Democratic Party to fit Schwarzenegger's image of "economic girlie-men"?
The risk is real. Even New York Times liberal columnist Frank Rich titled his post-GOP-convention column "How Kerry became a girlie-man."
Economic statistics unambiguously contradict Kerry's pessimism. Last week the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in 1996, when Bill Clinton was running for a second term, now lower than the average during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Homeownership is at an all-time high, approaching 70 percent; the stock market has rebounded nearly 30 percent from post-recession lows; productivity remains strong; businesses are investing again in plants, equipment, technology and people; and technology continues to advance at a breathtaking speed, particularly in the area of communications technology.