May 4, 2004

A Correction

I begin today with a correction. Yesterday, I mentioned a Drudge report that last Friday’s “Nightline” broadcast took a bath in the ratings. Not so. Ted Koppel got a bumper crop of viewers when he decided to read a list of the Iraq war dead. Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post has the story. That doesn’t change my opinion of the broadcast, but I do believe in setting the record straight when I get facts wrong.

More Good News

There are more data to support my contention that the economy is going great guns. Check out this report from The New York Times. It looks as if state coffers are swelling because more people are working and making money — and hence, paying taxes.

There’s further confirmation that the president’s tax cuts gave the economy a much-needed jolt. If this trend continues, the deficit could vanish within the next three years!

On the other hand, if you want a good look at what happens when the government raises taxes and chokes off growth, check out the record in Ohio, where Republican Gov. Robert Taft last year pushed through a $3 billion tax hike, sending an already struggling economy into free-fall. Ohio now has the third-highest tax burden in the nation, and has increased state spending 71 percent in the last decade. In other words, the Buckeye State has decided to punish the public for the avarice of the political class. This may explain why the state’s top export these days is people. Who wants to live through that kind of nonsense? The Wall Street Journal lays out the case, and a delicious fight that pits the governor against fellow Republican, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Best line: “Blackwell is the garden at this skunk party.” (You must be a registered subscriber to the Journal to read the editorial online.) The point is that tax-and-spend policies aren’t any less devastating when practiced by Republicans.

Nationally, though, the economy is all but dead as an issue for Democrats. It could, contrary to all earlier expectations, become the president’s greatest election-year strength.

Another Surprise

Meanwhile, John Kerry’s war record has emerged as an unexpected liability for the junior senator from Massachusetts. John O’Neill, who assumed command of Kerry’s swift boat two to three months after Kerry headed home from Vietnam, unleashed a harsh attack on Kerry, also on the Wall Street Journal editorial page. (This time, I can link the article.)

O’Neill and 19 of 23 other former officers who were Kerry’s colleagues or coevals during Vietnam held a press conference at the National Press Club and ripped into Kerry with a ferocity we haven’t seen so far in a campaign already notorious for its superheated passion. Expect Kerry to ignore the group for now, and to react with smoldering indignation when (and if) the mainstream press not only takes notice, but follows with questions.