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John Kerry built his presidential bid on the idea that Iraq was a quagmire leading to a Vietnam-like foreign-policy disaster and that the U.S. economy was mired in a jobless recession.

With rapid progress toward democracy unfolding in Iraq – and increasing despair among the terrorists, if this New York Post story on an alleged Zarqawi posting on an extremist website is to be believed – Kerry’s Iraq doom-and-gloom preaching sounds increasingly like a core value of defeatism, which has never resonated with the American electorate.

Add into the mix that a crisis with Iran looms – notably mullah-stonewalling on their nukes, and a UPI report on Iranian troop movements to the border with Iraq – and the electorate is looking at a choice between resolve and retreat. Bad news for Kerry.

But not as bad as the news he gets daily on the economy. Resolute only in his refusal to deal with the facts of an economic boom under way, Kerry is banking on the American people believing what they hear from him as opposed to what they read in the newspapers, see on the television and hear from the Bush campaign. The Washington Post explains that Kerry is committed to badmouthing the boom, but the account admits that:

 

… a recent spate of positive economic news threatens to complicate, if not contradict, Kerry’s impending attack. The economy is growing at its fastest clip in 20 years, 1.4 million jobs have been created in the past nine months, including nearly 250,000 in May alone, and wages are starting to climb for many workers.

 

Kerry stubbornly clings to his dark visions through thorn-covered glasses, telling New Jersey audiences Monday that times were terrible, but even the Los Angeles Times was forced to admit in its headlines that Kerry’s rhetoric is failing the laugh test: “Kerry Sidesteps Job Growth as He Hits Bush on Economy.” Here are two precious paragraphs of the article:

 

“I’ve met steelworkers and mineworkers and autoworkers who are now ex-workers, and every single one of them know that their job has been unbolted before their eyes, shipped overseas,” the Massachusetts senator said at the airport rally.

He struck a similar note in his speech to more than 300 donors milling around the pool and whirlpool at Bon Jovi’s castle-like New Jersey estate, but acknowledged the dissonance of the scene and the message.

 

Hollywood producers and rock stars funding the stiff preppie from Yale to talk down to American workers about the boom they are creating and will sustain – yeah, that’ll work.

Perhaps’ Kerry’s brain trust ought to read a recent report from CNN’s Money magazine on projected job growth in the third quarter: “Hot summer for job seekers: Survey finds 3Q hiring plans to keep pace with those of second quarter; outlook is best in the West.”

Kerry’s campaign says America is headed in the wrong direction? Job growth is even up in California, where the Sacramento Democrats have been tied down by Arnold who has led a reversal of many of the job-killing policies from the years when Gray Davis teamed with an overwhelming Democratic majority in the Legislature created a perfect storm for destroying employment.

In short, tax cuts and regulatory reform produce economic growth, and the evidence of that is overwhelming even media elites rooting for Kerry. No wonder Kerry has been acting weird – it isn’t even July, and his campaign platform has been destroyed by events.

Which is a little like how Paul Krugman must have felt yesterday morning. Part of the New York Times’ commitment to full employment for eccentrics, Krugman’s column is read rarely, and then primarily in the fever swamps of the left. But yesterday’s offering was unique in its bad timing.

“Travesty of Justice” begins with this line: “No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.” Coming hours after Ashcroft announced the indictment of a Somali terrorist plotting to blow up a Columbus shopping mall, Krugman’s rant will impress readers generally – and certainly the voters in swing-state Ohio – only for its persuasiveness as to Krugman’s frothiness. (Has anyone ever seen Robert Scheer and Krugman together in the same room?)

As Krugman curses deadlines, voters should ask why the Senate Democrats are dragging their feet in renewing the Patriot Act, why Kerry opposes that renewal, and whether they’d like to have Janet Reno back at Justice chasing the terrorists in our land.

It will be a long five months for Kerry’s gang, but amusing for the rest of us – if the stakes were not so serious.

 

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