President Bush is the Republican's best-kept-secret weapon for retaining control of both houses of Congress in November. Between now and Nov. 7, this grossly underestimated communicator must be on point selling his case to the American people.
I was asked by a television network to be part of a panel discussing the impact of the president's Wednesday press conference. Since I only caught part of the event on television, I studied the 20-page transcript of the event.
Bush was confident, unapologetic and engaged. He defended his national security and economic records and vouched for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to boot. In his opening summary, he clearly articulated his positions on national security, including Iraq and North Korea, and the economy. In the question and answer session that followed he was unflappable, disarming and winning.
Democrat congressman Charles Rangel and his colleagues would like you to believe that President Bush's speech was so deflating that it -- rather than the small plane crashing into a New York City high-rise -- caused the stock market to momentarily stumble. Wishful thinking, Charlie.
Other observers opined that President Bush used the press conference to change the subject from the Foley scandal to other issues. Sorry, but that's exactly the opposite of what is going on.
The truth is that Democrats, with the help of their mainstream media echo chamber, are the ones who have changed the subject from the life and death issues facing voters in November. Bush's press conference refocused our attention on what matters most.
In addition to addressing the issues directly, and starkly contrasting his positions with those of Democrats, President Bush made three other points that have been a long time coming.
First, he said he would not be intimidated from using the Democrats' words against them by their false charge that he was questioning their patriotism. He will continue to call their position on Iraq "cut and run," because it's an accurate descriptor. He noted that Sen. Kerry had advocated a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq, which amounts to "cutting and running" before the mission -- enabling Iraq to "defend itself, sustain itself and govern itself" -- is complete.
In the turning-their-words-against-them department, President Bush also cited House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's laughable assertion that she "loves tax cuts." President Bush allowed as how he found this quite curious, given Pelosi's record of always voting for tax increases. Boy is the truth painful to its strangers!
Second, the president not only refused -- "for about the fifth time" -- to acknowledge that invading Iraq was a mistake. He got right back in their faces and affirmed, defiantly, that it was the right thing to do -- and said he couldn't wait until we could have an actual debate on this subject. He was daring Democrats to defend the Saddam regime, what with its use of WMD, its systematic torture and its burying alive of its own people -- not to mention its support of terrorists.
Third, Bush squarely debunked the Democratic slander that he is a unilateralist. He said the claim was not only bogus -- he did assemble a large coalition to attack Iraq and also begged the other recalcitrant nations to join -- but noted that Democrats are completely hypocritical and inconsistent on the matter. He had been consistent in his approach to Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- employing a multilateral approach to all three. Democrats -- redundantly, since it was already being implemented -- insisted on a multilateral approach to Iraq, but have castigated Bush for not meeting with each of the twin dictators, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea's Kim Jong Il, alone.
On the issues, President Bush welcomes a debate on the state of the robust economy ushered in by his tax cuts. We've created 6.6 million jobs since August 2003, unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, wages are up, the stock market is at an all time high, oil prices are dramatically down, and the deficit has been cut in half three years earlier than he predicted. Any takers?
Then he explained that Democrats were obstructing his prosecution of the war, including opposing his efforts to prevent terrorist attacks through the NSA terrorist tracking program and the legislation authorizing tough interrogation techniques. And he emphasized that remaining in Iraq until the mission is complete is essential to winning the war on terror. Our defeat there would embolden global jihadists -- and he does not intend to allow that to happen.
If the president stays out front between now and the elections, forcing a debate on the real issues, the gloom and doom predictions about Democrats regaining control will stop dead in their tracks.