- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000


When George W. Bush delivers his acceptance speech tonight on the final day of the Republican National Convention, millions of voters will be hearing from the GOP nominee for the first time in a direct and unfiltered manner. The stakes are very high. First impressions count for much, and Mr. Bush has an ideal opportunity this evening to communicate his plans for America.
Throughout the convention and in the weeks preceding it, Mr. Bush has been crafting a high-minded tone for his campaign and offering an optimistic vision for the country. Like Ronald Reagan, Mr. Bush realizes that there is a streak of idealism in American society that holds there are still better days to come. His campaign has successfully given voice to that idealism, and people have responded.
Declaring he was sick and tired of the politics of personal destruction, Mr. Bush told 5,000 people in Harrisburg, Pa.,Tuesday that his intention is to "appeal to our better angels, not to our darker instincts." Indeed, that's what the convention has been all about. To "make America the best it can possibly be" would be his primary cause as president.
"The things that matter most to me," Mr. Bush said in Harrisburg, "are faith, family and America." He is obviously untroubled by the field day the media had early in the campaign after Mr. Bush identified Jesus Christ as the philosopher who has had the biggest impact on his life. Far from downplaying the role of religious faith, Mr. Bush would encourage Americans to direct some of their tax payments to faith-based philanthropic enterprises. The strength of the United States, according to Mr. Bush, is when "people reach out to a neighbor in need."
With that guideline in mind, Mr. Bush could use this evening's speech to make some related points. He could, among other things, make clear his earnest belief that the burgeoning budget surpluses "mean that the federal government has more money than it needs." Unlike Vice President Al Gore, who believes these surpluses belong to the government, Mr. Bush understands that they are "the people's money." With the Congressional Budget Office forecasting that the 10-year cumulative surpluses will total $4.6 trillion, Mr. Bush would do well to defend his modest proposal to return at least $1.3 trillion of the people's money to them over the next decade.
He should also take advantage of the opportunity to explain his laudable plan to reform the financially strapped Social Security system by permitting workers to contribute a portion of their payroll taxes voluntarily perhaps 2 percentage points of the 12.4 percent tax to individual investment accounts. And he ought to argue how morally unfair and personally destructive it is to keep students mostly minority students in public schools incapable of reforming themselves. Minority parents would surely embrace his plan to divert federal funds, which are now sent directly to public school systems, to families of students enrolled in failed schools so that they can choose schools that will teach their children. Nor should Mr. Bush forego the opportunities to outline his intention of rebuilding America's military and to reveal his vision for a national missile-defense system whose first priority is protecting the American people from attack and not reinvigorating an anachronistic treaty that precludes that goal.
Mr. Bush has both the determination and the ability to be a first-rate president. His grasp of the American psyche is correct; his policy prescriptions timely. Tonight is an important first step toward putting them into effect.

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