President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. He attempted to rally the support of the American people amid economic times of crisis.
“I thought the delivery of the speech was excellent,” said Nelson Wikstrom, professor of political science and public administration.
However, the content was not strong enough in regard to Iraq, Wikstrom said, which he believes may have left the minds of the American people unsure about whether Saddam is harboring weapons.
The conflict with Iraq was one of four focal points in the president’s speech.
“Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction,” the president told the audience. “But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack.
“And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country — your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.”
Herbert Hirsch, professor of political science and public administration, agreed with Wikstrom that Bush did not make a strong case against Iraq.
“I thought it was all smoke and mirrors in a sense,” Hirsch said. “He said nothing new on Iraq.”
The president also spoke about his plan to improve the current economic situation in the United States.
“The tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes — and it will help our economy immediately: 92 million Americans will keep, this year, an average of almost $1,000 more of their own money,” Bush said. “A family of four with an income of $40,000 would see their federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45 per year. Our plan will improve the bottom line for more than 23 million small businesses.”
Hirsch was not satisfied with Bush’s explanation of the proposed tax plan.
“He implies he’s doing things when in actuality he isn’t,” he said. “Tax cuts benefit rich people.”
Sophomore Mehtab Sidhu, a business major, was also disappointed Bush didn’t talk more about issues on the home front.
“He didn’t talk enough about any local issues,” he said. “He spent a lot of time on the so-called war on Iraq.”
The two other areas of concentration were health care and Bush’s compassion agenda.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, “The compassion agenda is to help those who have fallen through the cracks.”
Bush talked about the many Americans who are addicted to drugs and are in search of treatment, but cannot get it. He proposed a $600 million program to help an additional 300,000 people receive treatment during the next three years.
“By caring for children who need mentors, and for addicted men and women who need treatment, we are building a more welcoming society — a culture that values every life,” Bush said. “And in this work we must not overlook the weakest among us.
“I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of their birth and end the practice of partial-birth abortion. And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity, and pass a law against all human cloning.”
Wikstrom said he thought Tuesday night’s address was well-poised and more emotional than others in the past. The president’s delivery was dramatic at times, he said, and reminded him of the late President John F. Kennedy. He said he didn’t expect to find similarities between the two men because they came from two different backgrounds.
Senior Zmarak Khan, a chemistry major, said he thought Bush’s compassion agenda went against the Republican Party’s stance on small government.
“Nothing impressed me,” he said. “He’s supposed to be a Republican…he proposed all these extra things he’s going to do.”
Tuesday night’s address was Bush’s first since the anniversary of Sept. 11. According to an ABC News poll his ratings have dropped about 30 points since the terrorist attacks.