EDITORIAL: One lesson from Bill: the economy

The Bush Administration has taken advantage of the final insult of

Pardongate to cement new friendships in the media, producing some

remarkably positive copy all of a sudden from previously unfriendly

sources.



Only last month many papers were mostly concerned with picking on

President George W. Bush for his slips of the tongue and the blank pages

in his passport.



But last week, The New York Times published two pieces lauding Bush's

tight grip on his administration, with liberal mentions of his

disciplined approach to managing his staff.



Business Week also drew attention to the Bush team's cunning plan of

pushing through potentially unpopular measures by dreaming up new terms

to describe them (tax cut becomes 'tax refund,' and education vouchers

become 'opportunity scholarships.')



Bush (and by implication Karen Hughes, Andy Card and Ari Fleischer) has

also received some accolades for his tax campaign road trip, as well as

his resistance to bolstering that bill with provisions for the corporate

world. And bombing Iraq out of the blue didn't do too much harm to his

assertive-leader-of-the-free-world image either.



So as Bush approaches the end of his 100-day honeymoon, he has proved

that he can sell his own policies.



Now he needs to transfer that skill onto something far more important -

the one thing that his predecessor never lost sight of, stupid or not:

the economy.



Bush cannot rely on Alan Greenspan to administer the dose. He must show

economic leadership in everything he says and does.



It's no good arguing that tax cuts are his primary device for breathing

life back into the market. The promise of tax 'refunds' is a

time-honored Republican mantra, and for Bush to argue that this is his

idea for fixing everything is disingenuous. Besides, tax cuts will not

be felt in the pocket for some time, even if approved.



As of last Monday, the Nasdaq was down over 60% since its peak, the

largest fall since the Great Depression. Although much of this fall is

correcting some crazy valuations from last year, the fear is that it

will bring the Dow down with it.



This is exactly what we have a President for - to rally the troops and

show leadership. Moving to limit the scope of Northwest Airline staff

planning to strike is a good start. What we need to see is Bush on the

evening news, on the front pages, in the factories, at the malls, loudly

pointing out the glimmers of hope and drawing attention to the ways that

individuals and businesses can ride out the fall.



PR fraternity must find good news



And there is a parallel opportunity in our own industry to find a way

through the sprawl of bad news. There has never been as much demand from

editors for 'good news' stories to combat the tales of gloom. And not

just good news: smart spending, focused investment, versatility, reverse

psychology and other survival strategies are at a premium. You may never

have a better chance to make your client's case. The audience is

listening.



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