Students give mixed review of State of the Union

GW students had a range of reactions to President George W. Bush’s second State of the Union address Tuesday. Bush spoke about domestic issues but focused on making his case for a potential war with Iraq in the one-hour speech, during which he called his first two years “a good start.”

The first half of the speech was dedicated to the domestic issues of the President’s political agenda. He also announced social initiatives including AIDS relief for Africa and the Caribbean and new environmental programs, including billions in funding for hydrogen-powered automobile research.

Bush spent a significant amount of time detailing Iraqi transgressions and breaches of United Nations resolutions, noting that Saddam Hussein’s regime has not accounted for thousands of weapons of mass destruction.

Although Bush was greeted with Congressional applause more than 75 times, student reactions to the speech were mixed.

“He was precise, orderly and clairvoyant,” College Republicans Chairman Dan Moss said. “He expressed what the American people wanted to hear, especially on Iraq. Not only that, but he focused on other issues including AIDS and hydrogen-fueled cars. The fact that he discussed these other issues first proves that he is the American president first, and second an international leader.”

Moss also participated in a live MSNBC focus group that was aired on the cable news channel following the speech.

“Even Democrats (in the focus group) gave the President some high ranks, especially on his AIDS in Africa proposal and the hydrogen initiative,” Moss said.

Other students were less pleased by the president’s performance.

“I was mildly impressed and fell asleep,” said Wade Strauss, who works at Hillel. “He didn’t deliver it convincingly, basically reading off numbers and statistics.”

Other students had specific complaints about the speech’s content.

“Overall, I thought that it was an effective speech,” freshman Peter Feldman said. “I do not believe, however, that he made a case for his outrageous giveaway for the richest one-percent of the country.”

“He did not propose anything realistic on what could happen after a war on Iraq,” sophomore Sarah Pappas said. “He could put Iraq in an even more tumultuous situation. If anything else, he did seem very satisfied with himself.”

According to a nationwide America Online poll taken immediately before the speech, 47 percent of participants believed Bush was leading the country in the right direction. Wednesday morning, reaction changed to 62 percent in favor of Bush. More than 200,000 online users participated in each survey.

Some Democrats said they were impressed by the speech and are now ready to support a possible war on Iraq.

“I hate him, but it was the best speech he ever gave,” sophomore Gabriel Gillett said. “He took a position on chemical weapons and made it clear that we cannot let other countries determine our national policy. We are going to war for us.”

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