Jewish World Review Sept. 2, 2004 / 16 Elul, 5764
First Lady: First Prize
Laura Bush's speech delivered ex actly what President Bush needed. Her incredible speech reached women voters in a way that other speakers at either convention have failed to do.
Unlike her husband, the first lady drew explicitly the connection between the offensive operations in the War on Terror and the work to defend our families from the threats that haunt them.
Her speech was almost a female state of the union address taking each of the administration's policies and relating them to the concerns of the half of the electorate that the male political establishment doesn't understand and rarely appeals to.
Like presidents do in state of the union addresses, she brought Bush's policies home to each of us by naming real people, real families and real soldiers working for our freedom.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech explained the case for the Republican Party institutionally. Laura's address articulated the reason to re-elect Bush as a person.
George W. Bush needs voters to see him as America's protector, shielding our families and sheltering their children against terror abroad. Laura Bush communicated this reality in a way that no politician, in or out of the administration, has managed to do.
George needed to relate his education reforms to the average parents worrying about their children in school. Laura did it.
George had to explain why sending troops to Baghdad protected our families at home. Laura did it.
George required a speech that would wrap up the need to defeat al Qaeda in the umbrella of American values. Laura did it.
George had been unable to communicate the essentially feminist bent of his policies aimed at defeating Islamic fundamentalist terror. Laura did that.
Theresa Heinz Kerry's speech last month was about herself explaining her values to an apprehensive America.
Elizabeth Dole's excellent 1996 speech talked about Bob. She told us about her husband's background and humanity.
Hillary Clinton's speech was about her own political career and agenda, in effect, running for first lady . . . and beyond.
But Laura Bush's speech last night was about us. She showed how her husband's policies affect our daily lives.
Her speech brought a Clintonesque feel for our pain and a grasp of what we need from a president to the Republican convention. She did more in half an hour to humanize President Bush and make his policies relevant to our families than Dubya has done in dozens of speeches over the past three years.
Indeed, so important was her address that it sets a new standard in the speeches of first ladies. Unlike the shrill sloganeering of Hillary Clinton and the ritualized comments of other wives of presidents, Laura Bush explained her husband's policies with a clarity and simplicity that reached everyone who watched it except for the shortsighted and self-involved male commentators who didn't get it and put her down after it was over.
I have no doubt that Laura's speech will provide George with a bump and a bounce that will last for a very, very long time.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, most recently, "Rewriting History", a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History. (ClickHERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Dick Morris