Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Bush the Happy Warrior: Former Clinton scribe David Kusnet, beginning a TNR series on 2004 campaign rhetoric, says that the Bush team has realized how awful that lead balloon of a SOTU speech was last month. More importantly, he says, they've made a correction:
When it comes to making his case for another term, last night's speech was Dubya's do-over--and this time he got it right. Where his State of the Union speech had been partisan and pedestrian, devoid of what his father called "the vision thing," his new stump speech is both presidential and political; it makes the case for the Bush presidency--and against John Kerry and John Edwards--in forward-thinking, rather than defensive, terms.

It's as if the first MBA president has belatedly reversed a colossal management error. His State of the Union speech read as if the writing assignment had been outsourced to a hack from the Republican National Committee. By contrast, last night's speech read as if it had been assigned to the president's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, a lyrical writer and evangelical Christian with a gift for addressing audiences across the ideological and theological spectrum.

There's more, with good analysis of Bush's winning themes. I think this says one important thing. Bush is getting honest advice from friends, not stroking from toadies. It would be easy enough for his advisors to say, "No, no, you were great in the SOTU. The press is just biased." Someone told him he stunk up the room, he huddled with his writing team, and they came up with a script that sounds natural coming from Dubya.

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