President Bush’s popularity in the minds of the American people ranks right up there with a root canal. Because of that, John McCain has been labeled “Bush’s third term” by those who have successfully painted Bush as “the worst president ever.”

Both of those are bum raps.

President Bush’s problem is not that he has been the “bad president” the Liberal media and Democrats have made him out to be – his problem is that his not-so-good oratory skills combined with his unwillingness to stand up and defend his policies have allowed his critics to make their charges stick. George Bush’s policies haven’t been near as bad as the Liberals have claimed. George Bush simply hasn’t been able to sell those policies to the American people.

Mr. Bush was handed the beginning of a recession from his predecessor resulting from a false sense of euphoria instilled by a stock market suffering from a terminal case of “irrational exuberance” as stocks traded in extreme excess of their true value. Before that collapse – which began in March 2000 – the economy was roaring as American consumers were lured into the “wealth effect” phenomenon causing them to spend like my wife on a shopping spree. The collapse of the grossly-overvalued stock markets was inevitable – and with it, the beginning of a recession inherited by Bush 43.

The September 11 attacks had a devastating impact on this nation’s economy. While President Bush has taken a lot of heat for “allowing” the attacks to happen, those critics don’t want to acknowledge that Al Qaeda didn’t just magically pop up in the eight short months following Bush’s taking the oath of office. Nor do they want to acknowledge that Bush’s predecessor failed to act decisively and swiftly following Bin Laden’s attacks on American soil and U.S. interests abroad. Perhaps if Clinton had kept his eye on the ball, and acted like a real Commander-in-Chief instead of “smoking” cigars in the Oval Office, the darkest day in American history could have been avoided.

President Bush had to deal with the human tragedy and economic devastation of Katrina and Rita. While FEMA’s response was deplorable in terms of relieving the suffering of American citizens, the economic impact and the many billions of dollars spent is very real and would have been there regardless of “Brownie’s” incompetence.

The Iraq war is unpopular because some in Congress chose to politicize a war at a time when our courageous American warriors are dying on the battlefield doing what they were sent to do by the very ones now abandoning them in favor of getting votes. The war opponents have driven a wedge through the heart of American by viciously attacking a United States President and Commander-in-Chief for having the sheer, unmitigated audacity to defend this country. Few want to give Bush credit for being among the few in Washington who have learned the painful lesson of Vietnam: that allowing Washington politicians to run the war is a prescription for diasaster. The defeatists have made their case stick largely because Bush won’t come out pounding the table and firing back at those who have chosen to turn statesmanship into partisanship as they seek to quench their insatiable thirst for political power.

At the epicenter of the most recent economic quake is the skyrocketing cost of gas/energy, with the housing meltdown setting off aftershocks. High gas/energy costs affect every segment of our economy – from the farmers’ cost of running their tractors and combines to the truckers delivering food to grocery shelves to Americans putting their money in the gas tank instead of shopping at Walmart. This problem has been developing for fifty years *and didn’t erupt into a full-blown national crisis until Democrats took control of Congress in 2006. President Bush, John McCain, and most Conservatives have a plan to deal with this crisis. Obama and the Democrats *don’t.

John McCain’s label of “Bush’s third term” is blatantly dishonest. But it is working. For Mac to even try to defend Bush’s performance will be a losing proposition. He needs to reintroduce John McCain the “Maverick” that Americans fell in love with years ago. He needs to come at Obama with the same intensity and ferocity with which he steered his A-4 Skyhawk into a barrage of triple-A fire over Hanoi – and with his same unrelenting determination to hit his target. I want to see the fire in his belly and hear the thunder of his passions.

If he can do that, then he will be sworn in as America’s 44th president.