Could it be that George W. Bush, our first MBA president, is adopting a new strategy to aggressively market and merchandise his policies and successes? Finally?
Following the Friday morning arrival of a strong jobs report -- one that came in well over the monthly average for the past year -- Bush actually appeared on the South Lawn of the White House to make a statement on the success of the economy and his tax-cut policies. This is what President Clinton used to do in the 1990s with each piece of good news, and it's what President Reagan did through numerous televised speeches from the White House in the 1980s. This is exactly what Bush needs to do.
Message repetition. Without it, the mainstream media will fill the void with their usual brand of pessimism. But the reality is that the economic story is an optimistic one. GDP growth is steady and significant. November jobs expanded by 215,000 (238,000, including prior revisions), and unemployment remains at a historic 5 percent low.
Earlier in the week, a slew of new economic reports all came in above Wall Street estimates: rising consumer confidence, strong new home sales, expanding business investment in capital goods and continued manufacturing growth, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The stock market, meanwhile, is in the midst of a big year-end rally. These are great economic signs, but Bush must get the message out again and again.
The same holds true for the Iraq war. Things are going far better in the Middle East than the mainstream media would have us believe. Bush did himself a lot of good with his Iraq speech at Annapolis, Md., last Wednesday. It was filled with facts and figures, and made the case that Iraqi-ization is moving forward. The president laid out a comprehensive and easy-to-understand strategy of "clear, hold and build."
Bush rightly refused to schedule a withdrawal timetable that would only help the terrorists. He provided plenty of numbers, such as 120 Iraqi army and police battalions today, where there were virtually none a year ago. Eighty of these are fighting side-by-side with U.S. troops, while 40 others are taking the lead in various fights. Thirty Iraqi battalions are now controlling specific geographic areas. On the economic front, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Iraq's GDP to grow in real terms by 3.7 percent in 2005 and nearly 17 percent in 2006.