In his first debate with Walter Mondale, my dad Ronald Reagan fumbled badly – there was no sign of the Great Communicator during that debate. What there was instead was a Ronald Reagan given bad advice by some of his staff who were afraid of letting the public see the real Ronald Reagan, who they feared might be seen as too conservative.
In the second debate all that changed because my dad insisted upon being himself rather than the namby-pamby moderate politician some of his advisers thought he should be. My dad insisted on being Ronald Reagan, not some pale imitation. He wanted Ronald Reagan to be seen as Ronald Reagan
For a long time now, we have not seen the real George Bush and his low poll numbers reflect that. There is some truth to the claim that he was living in a bubble, isolated from the public by timid staff members who feared allowing George W. Bush to be George W. Bush.
On Monday the wraps came off when the president spoke at Cleveland’s Commonwealth Club and TV viewers across the nation saw the real George W. Bush emerge.
That this was not an isolated event became obvious the very next day at his White House press conference when the media and the nation saw Bush being Bush – Texas tough, blunt spoken, and totally unapologetic about being what he is. George Bush allowed himself to be George W. Bush, take-him-or-leave-him.
I imagine that there were a lot of nervous nellies among the White House staff who were wringing their hands over the idea that the president was out there in front of the hostile media and nation being exactly what he knows himself to be: a no-nonsense chief executive who is sure of himself, knows his job, knows how to do it, and doesn’t care a whit if the media elite and the desperate Dems don’t like it.
Mark my words, if Bush continues to be Bush and allows the public to see Bush as Bush, his poll numbers are going to rise dramatically despite the efforts of his enemies in the media and the desperate Dems to blacken and slander him and lie about him. And he’ll find the American people, who love a fighter, solidly behind him and all that he stands for as he continues to reveal his rationale for what he is doing – slowly winning the Iraq war, creating a growing ever-more prosperous economy and the job growth that comes with it, and doing everything possible to keep Americans safe from terrorist atrocities.
In that Cleveland speech – where he faced some tough and sometimes openly hostile questions – and in the next day’s press conference, this allegedly bumbling and inarticulate president showed himself to be sure-footed and deft in defending his policies and his actions. In the face of some sheer nastiness he maintained his cool, dealing with his detractors with a hard steel hand encased in a soft velvet glove.
His record on the economy is strong, but you’d never know it from the polls.
Being Bush means telling the people what the desperate Dems and the media don’t want them to know: the economy is booming. He started to do that yesterday when he explained what is happening in the economy:
“Last year our economy grew at a healthy 3.5 percent,” he said. “Over the past two-and-a-half years, the economy has added nearly 5 million new jobs. That’s more than Japan and the 25 nations of the European Union combined.
“The national unemployment rate is 4.8 percent — that’s lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s.
“Productivity is strong. Inflation is contained. Household net worth is at an all-time high. Real after-tax income is up more than 8 percent per person since the beginning of 2001. The growing economy is a result of the hard work of the American people and good policies here in Washington.”
This is Bush being Bush – and he must keep being Bush. The desperate Dems will hate it, the liberal media will hate and the American people will eat it up. As I wrote, they like a fighter. That’s what they are seeing now.
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.