Come again? You are President. You’re running for re-election.
Oh well. It doesn’t matter. Quick. Can you come up with a single line from Bush’s acceptance speech four years ago? No? I can’t either. Al Gore's? No? I can't either. All I can remember about Gore’s speech was the endless kiss. But then, to be honest, I can’t remember a single sentence from Michael Dukakis’ acceptance speech either, and I was in charge in those days, and it was considered a great convention; we got a huge bounce.
This is cliché day. Before the speech all the anchors say, "This is (one of) the most important speeches in Bush's/Kerry's/whomever's career." The pressure is on. It could be decisive.
Afterwards they say, "I think he did it, by George." We all nod knowingly.
I’ve got a secret. A nominee could read the phone book to a convention crowd and after four days of waiting we’d all say, “By George, he’s done it.”
And then, by the next day, we forget all about it.
On occasion, you can make a huge mistake in a speech, but I can’t think of a single election that’s been won in an acceptance speech.
The lines we remember tend to be the ones that come back to haunt the candidate:
"Read my lips. No new taxes." Not such a great line after all.
I remember Mondale promising to raise taxes. He’d probably prefer we forget.
I remember McGovern saying, “Come home America,” but mostly because it was 3 a.m.
I remember Kerry saluting, but then so did the swift boat veterans.
Let me be fair and balanced here: I can’t remember a single line from either of our best recent speechmakers, Clinton or Reagan. The only Clinton line I remember well was from 1988, and that was, “In conclusion.”
Ford? Enough said.
So how did Bush do? I thought he was a bit nasty in his criticism of his opponent. I kept waiting at least for a secret plan to end the war in Iraq. And how about that deficit?
I know what the anchors will say. They’ll say, “By George he did it.” But by tomorrow, I daresay, you won't find many people who can remember a single line — even the anchors that said it would be the most important speech of his life.
Mark my words: they’ll say the same thing about the debates. It’s going to be a long and ugly two months. The Democrats are mad as hell, and they aren’t going to take it lying down…
Susan Estrich is a political contributor for FOX News Channel. A woman of firsts — she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis).