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There's Something Missing in St. Paul

A Commentary By Lawrence Kudlow

On CNBC Wednesday night, Jack Welch, GE's CEO from that firm's salad days in the '80s and '90s, pointed out the dangers of a three-house Democratic sweep. He says it's dangerous for both the stock market and the economy. And he wants to know why the St. Paul Republicans aren't running against Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

"With Pelosi and Reid pushing him," said Welch, "there's no limit to the taxes (Obama will) raise." Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who joined Welch on our show, was in full agreement: "You've got a prescription for turning America into France," said the Senate minority leader, "which is exactly what the Democrats want to do if they get all three (houses)."

I agree completely. A three-house Democratic sweep is a vital issue, and John McCain and Sarah Palin should be raising it. A three-house sweep is bad for the economy and the stock market. And will someone tell me exactly why the St. Paul Republican's aren't mentioning the economy?

As we head into the closing night in St. Paul, there has so far been no reference to the weak economy. There has been no economic-recovery message and no growth message. There has been no reference to the populist revolt against high gas prices at the pump, which is the main cause of the economic slump. There has been no reference to the 70 percent of Americans who are tired of high gas prices and want to drill for more oil as at least a short-run solution over the next five to 10 years.

There is no one connecting with the economic woes of blue-collar-type working folks who are getting creamed, who worry about falling jobs and rising unemployment, and who want someone to help with the oil shock. What's going on here? Whatever happened to the prosperity part of peace and prosperity?

I made many of these same points Wednesday night on The Corner, National Review Online's political blog. To digest, Palin delivered a brilliant speech in St. Paul. So many good lines. She showed us all that she's a superb communicator -- that she's even Reagan-like. I personally loved her line about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick.

With a smile and a great quip, she signaled to her opponents that she is tough, serious and purposeful -- that she has strong convictions, and she's not going to be intimidated. I asked last night if we're not witnessing the Western frontier version of Margaret Thatcher. Palin is just what the Republican Party needs. She connected really well with middle-class working folks, both in cultural and social terms, which is no small feat: Values matter, and the Democrats are in trouble here -- big-time. The more they go after Palin culturally, as they have already, the more trouble they'll fall into.

And Palin did mention oil and gas drilling, and she effectively connected her Alaskan natural-gas pipeline to Tsar Putin's global aim of energy blackmail. She proved that she knows a bit more about high-table geopolitics than her critics think and that Alaskans know a lot about Russian territorial ambitions, with Russia right across the pond.

But again, there were misses. Foremost, I do not think Palin connected with folks on the economic slump, nor did she present an economic-growth recovery plan. Rudy Giuliani made the first foray into that area in his speech when he talked about restoring economic growth through tax cuts and drilling. (Palin also fingered Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal. Good.) But he didn't get to gas pump prices, or the oil-shock-driven consumer shortfall in real purchasing power, or the threat of more job losses and higher unemployment that are casting shadows over public confidence and the investor-class stock market.

That said, Palin did lay some important groundwork. In the weeks ahead, she can expand her oil-and-gas drill, drill, drill message to include gas prices and the economy. This is only a short stone's throw away from her Wednesday-night speech. Wouldn't it be great if she and McCain adopted a strong, pro-growth, tax-reform plan to reduce tax rates across-the-board, get rid of the corrupt loopholes and tax earmarks defended by the old order in Washington, and combine their ethical corruption cause with prosperity tax cuts as well as currency-reform to restore King Dollar?

At least Palin got us headed in the right direction last night with her America First energy-reform message. Watching her phenomenal communication skill, her disciplined yet positive style, I can't help but be optimistic. I'm optimistic in part because Palin herself is clearly an optimist. I'm a sucker for optimism.

What St. Paul needs is a good dose of economic reality -- a drill, drill, drill message tied to gas prices and the economy along with supply-side tax cuts and King Dollar. And like Jack Welch said, why not make the Reid-Pelosi-Obama three-house link? A return to the Jimmy Carter '70s is the last thing we need.


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Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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