ECONOMIC NEWS….Economic growth in the second quarter was worse than expected:

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 3 percent in the spring, a dramatic slowdown from the rapid pace of the past year….The size of the slowdown caught economists by surprise. Many had been looking for GDP growth to come in around 3.8 percent in the second quarter.

In addition, retail sales are down, factory orders are declining, housing starts are down, and the stock market is flat.

On the other hand, consumer confidence is up ? although I wonder for how long? ? and inflation is in good shape.

Overall, my take on the economy has been that it’s good enough to keep Bush’s hopes alive and bad enough to keep Kerry’s hopes alive. On balance, though, the most recent news has been mildly but consistently weaker. That’s bad news for Bush.

Too bad he didn’t use his term in office to genuinely try to improve the economy. Instead he used it to pursue ideological tax cuts for his corporate pals and a hodgepodge of little initiatives aimed at every interest group he could think of in key states ? all the while hoping the economy would recover on its own and his policies wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately for Bush ? and for all of us who have to suffer through it ? it’s not looking as if his gamble will pay off.

UPDATE: Hmmm, it turns out that consumer confidence is up for some, but not for all. The Talent Show has the details.

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