America the strong

Matt Towery
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Posted: Jul 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Hurricanes, turned tropical depressions, swirled all over the North American continent.

 England was still recovering from a chilling terrorist attack.

 Gasoline prices stood at all-time highs.

 And yet the world did not fall apart over the past week. In fact, our stock markets have risen, housing markets remain strong and growing government revenues have even started to trim our nation's deficit.

 These developments, and the public's reactions to them, demonstrate a major shift in the way the public responds to events. It is perhaps the dawning of a new day.

 America has joined other nations, more accustomed to acts of terror and tough times, by no longer responding to national and world trauma with fear and paralysis. When catastrophes now happen, we tend to view them in the perspective of Sept. 11. That allows us to shake off tragedy and misfortune more easily than we once did.

 Not that we don't feel for those who suffer. The United States is a giving, caring nation. Every event that brings harm to our own or our allies is met with swift and generous support.

 But we don't panic as much as we used to. This new calmness seems to apply to everyone from the Nervous Nellies on Wall Street to the Chicken Littles on network TV news. They've all come to realize that we live in a new world and that it isn't always a naturally peaceful and prosperous one.

 Maybe even a sliver of optimism is called for in our cynical times. Why not? Interest rates remain low, unemployment seems to be at acceptable levels (unless you are one of the unemployed), and companies are growing and showing profits. Even commercial airlines are flying at pre-Sept. 11 capacity.

 Not all of the surveys of the nation's mood reflect these glad tidings. In fact, the overall trend recently has been a decline in confidence in both the president and Congress as well as the direction in which the nation is headed.

 But events such as the London bombings have a way of proving that the post-Sept. 11 world is not going to be one in which good people will be knocked to the ground by thugs.

 When the major news headlines center around some silly plot to get presidential advisor Karl Rove fired or conjecture over Supreme Court nominations and future resignations, my experience tells me that things are actually turning around.

 The evidence leads me to conclude that both President Bush and the overall "national direction" will start to receive more positive results in future national surveys.

 That's not to say that such a trend will last. As I have noted, the GOP is lacking in new and creative programs, and given the fact that it is the party in control, the burden is on Republicans to give Americans a reason to feel the nation is moving ahead.

 Yes, as I often mention, the upcoming book by talk radio star Neal Boortz and congressman John Linder might provide just what is needed to push a new and creative conservative agenda. I'll spare readers another of my long essays on the subject of simpler, fairer federal taxes -- at least until this book is published.

 In the meantime, just a little bit of creativity and decent presentation to the public on the clear upside of where our nation stands would go a long way to turn around both Bush's sagging approval ratings and the national mood.

 And I believe I can offer genuine, and hopefully helpful, suggestions on why the president's speeches on issues such as Iraq have been received mostly with yawns by his supporters and relentless attacks from his detractors. Allow me to try this one more time:
 
 Mr. President, use the Oval Office when addressing the nation. It is your most powerful weapon. A speech from a president -- any president -- doesn't really seem important unless it is broadcast from that very special room.

 You have been in the White House for going on five years. Until you leave office, it belongs to you. Use it.

 And when you do, remind Americans that while we have battles to fight and problems to face, things really are, in many ways, going great. You deserve to have that message heard, and Americans deserve to have it delivered to them in the most authoritative and effective way possible.