Editorial: Bush, Republicans show American voters where the leaders are

September 05, 2004

If there was any unifying theme of the Republican National Convention last week, it was leadership.

With the exception of a few hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage, both the Democrats and the Republicans are now "big-tent" parties.

The "big-tent" Democratic convention featured speeches by more four-star generals than we knew existed and the nomination of a candidate who stressed his service during the Vietnam War - all this from a party that has been anti-war and anti-military since Vietnam.

By the same token, the Republicans, whose platform and core constituency are staunchly conservative, featured strong speeches by moderates like Sen. John McCain, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Gov. George Pataki, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the first black elected to statewide office in his state.


President Bush spread the tent wider Thursday night when promised a broad range of government programs to improve health care, education and employment for Americans.

Bush didn't talk about drilling more oil wells in the Alaskan tundra; he talked about creating jobs through the development of new technologies to reduce the nation's dependence on oil.

You had to wonder: Had Bush become a "policy wonk"? Did Hillary Clinton write his speech?

But as Bush wrapped up his speech, it was evident that the part people would remember was his emphasis on leadership. Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic Georgia Sen. Zell Miller had done their job of knocking some dents in Sen. John Kerry's shiny, new candidacy. It was Bush's job to show that even though he has taken some hits over the past four years, he has emerged a better man and an even stronger leader.

Bush didn't dodge the hot-button issues of abortion and gay marriage, but used his conservative positions on those issues to underscore his leadership.

"Even when we don't agree," he said, "you know what I believe and where I stand."

It's that kind of leadership that the nation always needs, but it's even more important now because of the terrorist threat against the people of the United States.

Bush and the other party leaders that shared the podium with him last week in New York succeeded in showing the nation that theirs is the party of strong, decisive leadership. They also succeeded in making the case that American voters should stick with leaders of experience in these troubled times.

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