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Michael Ubaldi, October 18, 2004.
Politics on the comics pages? Betting that Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury will champion the left and impugn the right is like investing in bonds. Berke Breathed knew how to be a polite, post-Carter liberal in his masterful Bloom County; these days he's just another shrill reactionary, only he wears an Opus mask. While Bill Watterson always kept it pretty close to the chest in Calvin and Hobbes, I always came away with the sense that he's the classic "disgusted independent" whose single issue is something obscure like national chlorine levels in crown vetch, or the preservation of wagon wheels in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, or colorizing black-and-white films, or something, and to hell with all of the bums who just don't get it, and nobody right is on the ballot, so Hobbes will say something poignant and on-message this Thursday.
I knew Johnny Hart was traditional. I knew he was an outspoken Christian. What I didn't realize is how pointed he could make B.C. when circumstances dictated:
Michael Ubaldi, October 16, 2004.
This was the episode that should not have been: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had come out of the first presidential debate with national polls telling everyone that he had reversed an inevitable slide and returned to competition, and despite his running mate's lackluster performance and a difficult second debate, was publicly cheered on by party and press to deliver his finest in the third debate. He was instead rewarded with a troublingly superficial insta-poll victory, belied by public opinion over the president's superior showing and a terribly unwise rhetorical stunt that invited Americans to, again and finally, look hard at one John Kerry.
It began with Mary Cheney. John Edwards' rehearsed soliloquy for Dick Cheney's daughter was strange, and one could take it as a subtle reminder to voters of the vice president's divergence from the president on the subject. John Kerry's refrain eight days later was, again, awkward and a fairly weak point to make, especially since the Massachusetts senator claims to oppose marriage redefinition. To some, including myself, neither in and of themselves were offensive.
Immediately after the third presidential debate, however, Democrats began to connect dots for those of us who are not parents, nor married, nor infuriated by the twice-over reference. The voluntary admissions told all: immediately after the debate, agitated Kerry-Edwards campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill gave Mary Cheney the pejorative definition Hugh Hewitt calls a hunting term: "fair game." Mary's mother, second lady Lynne Cheney, called the singling out "a cheap and tawdry trick." Hours later, the prospective second lady, Elizabeth Edwards, shrugged as she told a national television audience that the Cheneys' "overreaction" was the real error in judgment — and did she mention that the Cheneys might not be comfortable with their daughter's difference? On the Fox News morning circuit, Kerry spokeswoman Debra DeShong suggested that "if Lynne Cheney has a problem, it's something she needs to work out with her family."
Asked about Mary Beth Cahill's remark, John Kerry laughed and wondered aloud what all the fuss was about.
Everything clear? Whatever political damage my remark may cost you is unintentional — although my paid surrogates will, for balance, intimate how such remarks could be construed as deleterious to your standing, and if by happy accident somebody takes it the wrong way and you lose a vote, how you are to blame.
Yes. Everything's clear. Either John Kerry can't control his own campaign staff or he can't properly drive a late-election wedge issue into place. Or both. Some pundits, including centrist Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke, are splitting the difference of blame between both campaigns, and the Democratic Party is conducting an orderly retreat from impropriety and outrage. What has resonated among voters, however, is not so much how or why Democrats decided to use Mary Cheney for politics but that a politician would tarnish his opponents' most valuable treasures.
The third presidential debate did a great service to redeem American politics by frustrating every fine-tuned algorithm that turns people into abacus beads.
When a September 60 Minutes presidential hit piece based on dead-obvious forgeries turned into a Jerry Lewis-worthy fiasco, CBS defied its critics and cheated death by public shame — so it can be noted with a pinch of irony that network oldhand Bob Schieffer, moderator of the third and final presidential debate, may be remembered for having arranged John Kerry's undoing.
The old leftist's sentimentality ensured a helping of soft-bellied questions. Mr. Schieffer, whose questions heavily favored the senator, could have been trying to draw out John Kerry's latent humanity, showing that night's record debate audience that, policy aside, the two men vying for the White House were flesh and blood both. Or he could have simply been following an old-fashioned bleeding heart. Schieffer asked three personal questions: Is it a sin to support arbitrary abortion? What part does your faith play on your policy decisions? What is the most important thing you've learned from strong women?
If Schieffer had kept to policy, John Kerry would have left behind a far better performance for transcripts, tape and pundits: policy doesn't reveal the man so much as the franchise. Kerry can debate policy. What he could not do — for Bob Schieffer or anyone else Wednesday night — was to be a man comfortable with himself. Kerry hesitated, crept around, sniffed, poked and eventually tiptoed his way through each answer.
Kerry said he "respects the views" espoused by the tenets of his own faith as if they weren't his. How can he do this? How can he distance himself from doctrine and not the religion itself? It looked as if he couldn't; for when asked to describe how faith instructed policy, Kerry chose to "share" at least part of the president's transcendental belief in God before qualifying it with every alterative. Then he told us how his policy would instruct faith. He made a strange decision to individuate Bush's testament to self-determination, as if a totalitarian state with strong public schooling would just as well bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Kerry's relationship to religious faith, based his own words, is legalistic and impersonal, and far too amorphous to be discussed spontaneously.
"Legalistic and impersonal" is a good characterization of Kerry's relationship to Schieffer's "strong women." Only an aristocrat would associate his wife with a dowry, or reach to the memory of deceased lineage over a living woman of acquisition. The senator's detachment from family was glaring and painful, and made worse when he reached for others to define himself. When the president spoke about his family he made no reference to anyone else's. Kerry hung his own response between Schieffer and Bush like a hammock between oaks, finishing by complimenting the president's wife and family in a way as nonchalant as pressing his face against the Bush's living room window.
Nothing was original. Kerry triangulated, marking relative to President Bush as if the president were the true metric of character. Bush dove into every question. He teared up, guileless and vulnerable but utterly appealing, simply because he was that person every one of us knows and admires in spite of all. Kerry tried to calculate his own self and failed miserably, like that person every one of us knows and just can't figure the hell out. In the last few hours of Wednesday night, pollster Frank Luntz asked twenty-three undecided voters who won the final debate and for whom they would vote. All twenty-three gave the debate to Kerry. As for the presidency, Bush won three-to-one.
Six years ago Americans were told that the soul and the statesman stopped along a very fine seam, that character was derived from policy and nothing more. Vice presidential candidate John Edwards' promises to make lame beggars walk to the bank with a blank check certainly advocate that belief. His success as witness is not as clear, particularly when paraplegic rightist Charles Krauthammer, one of Edwards' Chosen, reminded the sermoner that "a flattering mouth worketh ruin." At the third presidential debate, John Kerry followed in that failure of condescension. When the Democratic Party searches for the element missing in their appeal to the American voter, they may want to consider sincerity.
Michael Ubaldi, October 15, 2004.
The Democratic Party's bid for the White House appears to have had its earlier fortunes returned — as has our commander-in-chief. Keep an eye on Jim Geraghty; I should have a short essay this afternoon or tonight.
OKAY, OKAY: Tomorrow. Go look at Saturn.
Michael Ubaldi, October 15, 2004.
Good news is better news when it's no surprise:
U.S. retail sales jumped 1.5 percent in September as auto sales recorded the fastest increases since October 2001, according the Commerce Department. Seasonally adjusted retail sales grew twice as fast as the 0.7 percent expected by Wall Street economists. Excluding the 4.2 percent rise in auto sales, retail sales improved by 0.6 percent in September, double the expectations on Wall Street.
WISE MAN: Alan Greenspan spoke in Washington today, and he's "not worried":
This year's surge in energy prices is likely to have far less of an impact on the economy than the oil shocks of the 1970s, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Friday. Greenspan predicted that the global economy will adjust to the recent surge in prices, which has seen oil topping $50 per barrel, by boosting energy exploration and production and by increasing fuel efficiency.
FAKE BUT ACCURATE: CBS News' headline? "Greenspan: Oil Prices Hurt Economy."
Michael Ubaldi, October 15, 2004.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have released another political advertisement challenging John Kerry on his own testimony and actions. ABC News, whose reporters have been instructed to go easy on the Democratic presidential candidate, are attempting to rebut Swift Boat Veteran charges of Kerry's embellishment of engagements in 1968. How? By seeking the testimony of conveniently available material witnesses in Communist Vietnam, where it is unlikely that any statement deviating from the totalitarian government's party line — one that holds Kerry in very high esteem, not exactly the most desirable kind of rapport — would result in anything other than punishment or death.
As Tom Maguire, who does a valiant job parsing testimony of the coerced, says, "if ABC is so interested in Kerry's war record, maybe they could send a crew to Kerry's campaign headquarters and ask him to sign a Form 180 authorizing the release of his military records." But signing Form 180 just doesn't make for good copy. And it's so difficult.
Michael Ubaldi, October 13, 2004.
THANKS, BOB: Will we ever be as safe as secure as we were in the 1950s? Of course, Mister Schieffer, because the Soviet Union, Communist China, Communist North Korea and the Arabist Near East were all invented in late January, 2001. By Republicans. Kerry complains. Bush parries well.
LIKE A SHOT IN THE ARM: Health care and vaccine, anyone? Bush leans on litigation. Kerry recites what Bush immediately ridicules as "a litany of complaints." Bush returns, additionally calling Kerry's socialized medicine dream "an empty promise" and "bait-and-switch." Kerry does not give back equally.
WHAT ABOUT BOB WHEN HE LOSES HIS JOB?: Thrown to Bush — what will he say to a man unemployed because his job went to South Korea? Bush is polished, on-message. He out-Clintoned Clinton. He sounds energetic, and without the frustrated edge of last Friday. Excellent. Kerry begins, a bit discombobulated. He moves into another litany. I hate to say this, but he sounds like the announcer for a multi-disc "best of" album that's "not sold in stores." He sounds jet black to Bush's pasture green.
KERRY, THE ECONOMIC UNILATERALIST: Advisors said "hit 'em with statistics." John Kerry is giving us Trivial Pursuit. Bush begins with a whoop. It works. He moves into rebuttals, and swings into tax cuts — which is well done, as it's his job to point out how Kerry thinks static livelihoods and handouts, while Bush thinks about upward mobility and personal earning, saying "government should stand side-by-side to help them reach their dreams, not run their lives." Bush comes back a little rough but ends wonderfully, getting a laugh, calling Ted Kennedy "the conservative Senator from Massachusetts." Nice.
DEFINING MARRIAGE: Bush gets a point-blank question: is homosexuality a choice? Bush talks from the heart, and for a lot of us — he doesn't know. His response is confident. He believes what he believes. Kerry starts in with Dick Cheney's daughter and meanders. He tries to be personal and does describe some personal situations many of us might know of. Then he turns around and supports the definition of marriage as a man and a woman. Straddle.
CATHOLICKED: Did you hear? John Kerry grew up learning to respect fellow Catholics who actually adhere to the tenets of their faith. What generosity. Did you know he was an altarboy? In Cambodia? He kept talking, and I lost him. Bush comes down like a hammer on what he believes — a culture of life. He does not qualify or equivocate. "I believe reasonable people can come together." He calls partial-birth abortion the disgusting practice that it is. He slows down a bit in the middle but is generally effective.
HEALTHCAREDOUBLEPLUSUNGOOD: The candidates are certainly vying for Bob Sheiffer's vote. Bush laughs, composes himself and moves into savings accounts, "involving people in the decision-making process." Bush is handling himself extremely well. Alright: everyone who laughed at his being a "compassionate conservative," eat your heart out. Kerry seems like he would rather see the government in charge of things. "People are sicker"? Let's see the graph. Bush: "he has no record. No record at all. ...No record of leadership." Walk versus talk.
'IT'S NOT A GOVERNMENT PLAN': So says Kerry. There is no spoon. And he does exactly what he did in the second debate: smarmily bet you to keep the "higher copay, higher premiums" offered in your current plan. He tries soft-sell but comes off hard-sell. He begins to wind a thread of policy that gets a little tangled.
CBS SLAM: Goofy. Corny. But that's the president. He came across as if it didn't really bother him anyway. Then he goes serious and tackles Kerry with numbers. "Our health care system is the envy of the world." Good.
'MODERATOR' BOB: Notice how Bob Schieffer cuts off the discussion when Kerry won't be able to properly grapple, and gives Kerry response time when he needs it? That's the way it looks from here, anyway.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Bush takes Rush Limbaugh's advice and knocks the Democratic Party's mantra that Republicans will "take your social security away." This man is engaged. Another thought: this is a man who was prepared to concentrate on domestic policy from 2001 to 2005. Not "mislead" the American public for "foreign adventures." Soft Kerry supporters ought to ram that one through their heads.
'INVITATION TO DISASTER': I don't need a seventy-year-old man telling me that my money needs to go into a black pit. Who's "out of touch" with youth? I did the Christian thing, and called him a "mother frocker." But with different words. Schieffer does well to ask a follow-up, though considering that he should have given Bush a chance to defend himself, it might be an alley-oop.
BUSH TURNAROUND: Kerry goes out on the verbal lash. Bush uses Kerry's words against him: "more of the same." Then he reminds that September 11th resulted in the loss of nearly one million jobs. A nice, fat, roundhouse.
IMMIGRATION: Boy, is Bush going to get a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal soon. Phyllis Schlafly probably threw a vase against a wall.
KERRY LIKES GANGLAND YEARS: And Bush blinks when he's hot 'n' bothered. Kerry thinks this. Kerry thinks that. Kerry's plan sounds extraordinarily like Bush's. "He doesn't know the borders," says Bush. An "outrageous claim." Wonderful. Kerry smoulders.
MINIMUM WAGE: Kerry sounds very dated. I'm waiting for him to talk about the Equal Rights Amendment. Bush, the compassionate conservative, does not take the rightist position — but he nullifies the attack, it seems. He goes big-picture, with an excellent explanation of education. Kerry's only alternative is to accuse the president of "dodging" and reciting numbers.
OUCH: "Only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a $49 million increase is not enough."
CBS COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH!: Even if the draft is pretend, stop-loss can be mischaracterized! Kerry says he will add two active-duty divisions, and ostensibly use them nowhere. And tries the "real alliances" again. Bush starts on the high road; with an anecdote. He criticizes the "global test." Kerry responds with a "truth standard." Bush returns and finally reminds the world that as far as John Kerry was concerned, Ba'athist-occupied Kuwait could go to hell.
THINGS THAT POLITICIANS CLASSIFY AS 'ASSAULT WEAPONS': Kerry makes a rhetorically successful bid but probably leaves a lot of angry gun owners in his wake.
EDUCATION: Kerry comes off as irritated, and again as the guy who points and gripes. Bush goes positive and moves through accomplishments. Schieffer cuts off debate. Win Bush.
FAITH IN POLITICS: "I pray a lot. ...You're equal in America. That's the great thing in America, you're able to worship as you see fit. ...I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency." Incredible. And from the heart. "I believe that God wants everyone to be free."
SMALL MAN: Only John Kerry would try to dilute the human yearning for liberty. Qualify it. And turn such a question into a policy attack. He seems grudging, not enthusiastic like the president, in his acceptance of the freedom of religion.
EV'RABODY GET ALONG: Kerry smilingly moves into criticize the president. The president responds decently. Dumb question.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FROM STRONG WOMEN: Bush's answer is priceless. And wonderfully self-deprecative. Kerry is self-deprecative, too. But different. He turns it into policy. You know who I prefer.
CLOSING STATEMENTS: Kindler, gentler Kerry. Bush is startingly Reaganesque in his delivery. You know which I prefer.
Michael Ubaldi, October 13, 2004.
Less than half an hour before Wall Street's opening bell, American companies are making headlines on earnings reports ranging from good to skyrocketing: Intel Corporation's third quarter profits are up 15%, Harley-Davidson Inc.'s are up 20% and Yahoo Inc.'s third-quarter profit has quadrupled. On the short term, oil prices have moved off their record highs, boding well for the day's trading. President Bush enters tonight's third and final debate with a robust economy that has muscled its way through high energy prices and employment-stifling productivity gains; achieving a record third quarter in 2003, a string of record factory performances (the longest sustained in thirty years), low unemployment and an adamantine housing market. As Larry Kudlow says, Bush has nothing to be ashamed of — nor does the American entrepreneur.
Michael Ubaldi, October 9, 2004.
No matter how you slice it, this is good news for President Bush:
The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 50% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. Today is the first time all year that either candidate has hit the 50% mark in our survey.
Bush held his own during a tough week, Kerry's slight momentum was stopped by Cheney, Bush's swing began again last night just before a win by Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave it big push. With John Kerry now contradicting himself within the space of two or three minutes — "I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat....the president has been preoccupied with Iraq, where there wasn't a threat" — Bush is poised to throw all of his weight into five days of campaigning and take the third debate with confidence, calm engagement and humor.
SUNDAY, TOO: Two straight days of 50%-46%. Rasmussen found that viewers of the second presidential debate were equally divided as to who won, and that a clear majority still believe the president — whose approval rating is moving towards its year high — will be reelected.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: Matt Drudge is reporting that a soon-to-be published New York Times article quotes John Kerry as saying "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." Back to sleep? Coexistence with a highly concentrated, region-wide, state-sponsored menace to the human race? If fully in context, Kerry's statement has the potential of killing the senator's campaign.
LATER: It is in context. John Kerry understands neither the danger of authoritarianism nor the vitality of liberty. Given what Rasmussen Reports has determined of the foreign policy preference split down the middle of Kerry's supporters, a good number of them either do not understand or ignore what this man truly represents. Bush-Cheney is rightly dropping the sledgehammer on this.
Michael Ubaldi, October 8, 2004.
Senator Kerry's a little horse — or, hoarse.
FIRST QUESTION: Kerry and his "wishy-washy" turnoff. He frames it as a Republican distortion; throws up a few statistics, stumbles over one, turns to talking points. He's not comfortable. Let's see if President Bush truly is at home in a town hall. And he is. Composed, brief and to the point.
SECOND QUESTION, WMDs: Very reasonable somewhat-anti-war question. Bush is still on, beginning with the "post-9/11 mindset" and moving towards Saddam's sucker-punching the United Nations. Kerry? It's all about him. Talking points. "Straight up"? Kerry is nervous and uneven.
BALDI?: Can't complain on the name. Will he administer like Bush? Kerry has turned on the "chaos" machine; twice in one sentence. Fifteen minutes and we're seeing the far-left Kerry dribble out. Bush edges around him. He's on edge — I don't blame him.
'SOMEBODY CALLED HIM STUBBORN': Bad question. Good hat-tip to Kerry's being on the wrong side of history. Bush is pushing hard.
THE BIG LIE: Kerry has misconstrued the details of General Shinseki's retirement. Bush had better set the record straight. He doesn't — but then, there's an element to Bush's defense that most pundits are missing. He's not wired for point-for-point. He's wired for principle. Kerry is needling but he comes off petty.
IRAN, NOT SO FAR AWAY: What would Kerry do if diplomacy failed? He doesn't begin with an answer. Doesn't end with one. He's left himself wide open. Bush hits him with humor; a decent answer. Doesn't go as far as he could.
SMALLER ARMY, BIGGER RESPONSIBILITIES: Bush does not speak strategically but tactically and technically. Unorthodox, but interesting. Kerry starts witby preening himself with a basketball team's-worth of generals. Kerry returns to his "alliances" prep. Bush hits Kerry on "denigrating" allies. Kerry responds, seems content to do so.
TERRORIST ATTACKS ON AMERICAN SOIL: Excellent question. Kerry must choose between pointless blame or commitment. He starts with commitment — "I agree with the president" — and goes soft. U-turn to the "alliances" meme, then a few gripes on Homeland Security. Bush smacks Kerry back with a pair of statistics: Bush has increased HS funding, Kerry voted to cut intelligence spending after the 1993 World Trade Center attack. Bush makes a graceful swing to Iraq. A followup from Gibson draws out Kerry calling terrorists for what they are. A rarity.
WITH LOVE FROM CANADA: Medicine from up north? A silly pseudo-issue. Bush's response is a bit tepid. Kerry strikes with a charge of Bush's turning on the issue. Bush defends himself somewhat well. Kerry goes on too far; the senator likely repels many voters who might otherwise be attracted to him otherwise.
OF LAWYERS AND MEN: When John Kerry said that he and John Edwards support tort reform, I was smitten by an image of both men in banana republic military uniforms declaring their defense of free and fair elections. He wanders into policy. Bush can easily traipse in. His 'hard work" line stiffs from across the apartment. But he does reasonably well. Kerry comes back smarmily. A deft, articulate jerk. Bush snaps back.
'MONEY IN THE POCKET': Bush's watch on spending is difficult; his turn to the tax cut is a good one. Kerry comes on — "keep your high premiums if you want 'em." No government takeover, eh, John? Bush returns, explaining the recession; it's fresh. Kerry's response is pat.
'READ MY LIPS': Asked if he would look into a camera and swear that he would not "raise taxes on people making less than $200,000 a year," Kerry begins with a solid, if utterly insincere in the humble opinion of the writer, oath just to that. Bush, in his response, could have hammered Kerry on the "rich folks" fallacy. He doesn't, but does prick the senator for his "liberal" record. Invokes Ted Kennedy.
VERY NICE: ...Which draws out an angry response from John Kerry. Bush broadsides Kerry with Kyoto. "It would have cost us jobs." Kerry's response is clumsy. He'd rather keep allies over "flawed" legislation than keep American jobs? Major point for Bush. Ironically, the most striking of the debate. Bush may have the momentum. Two Cornerites certainly agree.
THIS IS GOOD: Kerry's still off his rhythm. I'm typing without watching. Was Kerry fist-pumping when he said, very unconvincingly, "let's free the entrepreneurial spirit of America"? Bush jumps on like a defensive back. And...yes! Bush raps Kerry with the senator's mischaracterization of small businesses as "rich." Bush returns. "I own a timber company....Need some wood?" Priceless. Then he segues into a personal story. Devastating. Devastating.
PATRIOT ACT: An incredibly anti-Bush question, though it's safe to say that libertarians are included in the numbers of the undecided. Bush's answer is well-paced and effective. Kerry goes on as if he fought tooth and nail to stop the Patriot Act. A litany of cheap shots.
BABIES: Very anti-Kerry question, so it's fair. Kerry stumbles over a description for the audience member's..."beliefs," senator? Why can't you call them "beliefs"? He calls them "feelings." Is Kerry hoping for Catholic Exodus? He gets lost in his high-reaching language. He does, oddly enough, sound the most human and the least dislikable (to me, anyway). Bush is uneven, and Kerry hits him for it. Bush returns: he did not want to "destroy more life."
HERE COMES THE JUDGE: "I'm not tellin'!" Another good brush with the audience. Rather than tip his strategic hand and name a name, Bush describes his belief of good jurisprudence. He wants "strict constructionists." Kerry...lies. As Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, "I want non-political judges who will protect abortion rights."
ABORTION: Kerry, practically saying "poor people need to remove unwanted babies, too." Then he says "unwanted children." Major stumble. Bush comes back quietly but stern. "Accepted by law and welcomed by life." It's powerful and Kerry responds at his peril. Very bad taste. "It's just not that simple." Bush returns. Kerry comes off badly.
LAST QUESTION: Totally loaded. Bush is right not to dignify it with an answer. He adds a tap of humor by considering appointments to be mistakes but stays mum, not wanting to embarrass them on "national television." Kerry's rebuttal is back-biting, mean, classless. "[Saddam would] not necessarily be in power." Not good.
CLOSING STATEMENTS: Kerry standard. Bush standard. You know which one I prefer. Again, polls be damned, I'm confident Bush has made himself look like the man who should be president, and Kerry the man who should be backbencher.
Michael Ubaldi, October 8, 2004.
The Department of Labor reported this morning that the American economy added 96,000 workers to non-farm payrolls in September. Set against an analyst prediction of 155,000, the report isn't politically stellar but not particularly damaging either, as employment continues to expand. Could weather have impacted markets as strongly as energy prices? Labor Statistics doesn't rule it out:
Four hurricanes struck the U.S. during August and September: Charley in mid-August, Frances early in September, Ivan in mid-September, and Jeanne late in the month. BLS made additional data collection efforts for the hurricane-affected counties. Establishment survey response rates in September were within the normal range for these areas as well as for the U.S. as a whole.
PERSPECTIVE: National Review's market bunch has more.