Paul Newman is a good actor. I really liked him in "The Sting" when I was a high school kid. I didn't get to many movies at that age, what with football, baseball, basketball and chores, but that movie is one I'll never forget. Great ending.
"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" was another of his better efforts. "Cool Hand Luke," "Fort Apache, the Bronx," "The Towering Inferno," "Slap Shot," all good stuff. He makes a tasty salad dressing, too.
But Newman's politics aren't nearly as appetizing. I wish he'd stick to what he knows.
The legendary star of the silver screen wrote a fundraising letter and recorded a message recently for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In his letter, he accuses Republicans in general -- and the president in particular -- of "fear mongering." He then proceeds to monger fear within the hearts and minds of the recipients of his letter.
"I am proud now to stand with a new generation of Democrats against a president who poses what I believe to be the biggest internal threat to American democracy in my lifetime," said Newman.
Wow! That's scary.
"You can take your pick of issues where Republicans are seriously damaging this country," he continued. "Iraq, global warming, civil liberties. But I resent them most for how they've destroyed the American spirit by using xenophobia and fear to hold onto power."
He resents them most for using xenophobia and fear to hold onto power. Hmm ... I'm glad Mr. Newman chose to set aside fear himself in his appeal to raise a few additional dollars for his favorite charity.
I've used this space freely in past weeks to pass my own judgment on the Bush administration. They've committed more than their share of missteps over the past months and years, but let's give them their due when they've earned it.
Predictably, I also heard Newman attack the administration on the economy. That's right out of the Democrat playbook. Demagogue the economy and invoke class warfare. Any acknowledgment of a robust economy includes the assertion that only "the rich" are benefiting. Newman, who has read a lot of scripts in his lifetime, was faithful to the Democrat script.
But I was talking with a friend just the other day who commented on the fact that he resides on the opposite end of the financial scale from the likes of Paul Newman, yet his humble portfolio is "sizzling" in this economy, as I recall his description.
Sizzling, indeed. If Bill Clinton were president today, I have no doubt the media would proudly trumpet this era as the "Clinton Economy" and extol the glories of the Clinton economic team every chance they got.
Criticizing this administration on this economy is a sham. The truth is, that's one of the things Bush has done pretty well. The economy is strong, the Dow Jones is at a record high, inflation is down. Deficits are down to their lowest level in many years. More than 5.5 million new jobs created over the past three years. Our economy is rolling.
Be honest, Democrats and media. If you are going to refer to Iraq as "Bush's war," then you are honor-bound to refer to the marketplace today as "Bush's economy."
Democrats don't want to acknowledge the strong economy, because that would detract from their message and their full intent to raise your taxes. In fact, today's economic boom is due entirely to the tax relief George Bush and the Republican Congress enacted after his election.
The Democrats want to rescind that tax relief. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are building their campaigns on that pledge.
(Side note: Democrat presidential candidates are sounding so much alike, it's hard to tell them apart. In the interest of time and efficiency, rather than referring to Hillary or Obama or the others, we will forthwith christen the generic Democrat presidential candidate as "Hillarama." End of side note.)
And when they do rescind tax relief, with the help of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hillarama will have effectively raised your taxes to the tune of $900 billion. And that's without actually raising the other taxes they promise to raise.
Hillarama are talking about free health care for all Americans. Who's going to pay for that? If you think health care is costly now, wait until you get it for free. The taxes you'll be paying will really make you sick.
Tax increases are not the answer, and tax relief doesn't create deficits. Big spenders create deficits.
In 2008, it's buyer beware. Keep your hands on your wallets, my friends.
J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com) is chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group. He is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes twice monthly for the Review-Journal.