Students, staff reflect on President Bush’s last ‘State of the Union Address’

After 53 minutes and 68 interruptions of applause, President Bush ended his final State of the Union Address Monday night, highlighting foreign and domestic issues that could affect the average college more than you think. Bush’s speech to the opposition-led Congress encouraged lawmakers to take on the administration’s unfinished business and summoned an easy anecdote for the economy in its “period of uncertainty.” “I really felt like he was trying to make up for the past seven years in office,” Sam Houston State University student Jessica Asher said. “I think it might be too little, too late since he’s already lost the interest of so many people. At the same time, I feel like he’s still trying to help out with the tax cuts and things.”Leaders of the House of Representatives and White House officials agreed to a $150 billion package of tax rebates set to jolt consumer investments and spending. The stimulus plan will present tax filers with anywhere from $600 to $1200 and possibly more if they have children.”When you talk about something big, such as the economy, it affects everyone,” SHSU political science professor, John Holcombe said. “In a weaker economy, it will be harder to fund SHSU and for students to find part-time jobs. The better the economy, the more likely the state legislature will be able to fund the university.”While the tax rebates are meant as a quick fix to boost the economy, political science professor Mike Yawn says the politics of today has a great impact on future of college students.”It affects every aspect of their lives,” Yawn said. “It affects them when they have people their age dying in war. It affects them when they’re trying to feed their families or go to school or buy homes. It will affect them directly and indirectly.”Bush highlighted other domestic issues such as immigration and Social Security though much of the speech focused on foreign policy and the ongoing war in Iraq. Bush reiterated his stance that withdrawals from the conflict would be based on U.S. commander recommendations but said about 20,000 of the additional troops dispatched last year will come home in a matter of months. “It seemed like the most emphasis was on taxes and continued support of the war,” political science professor Johanna Dunaway said. “It was like it should have been a speech from several years ago instead of one that we’re still hearing today.”Toward the end of his address, Bush repeated his goal of establishing a democratic Palestinian state and settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the end of the year. “One year is not enough,” Holcombe said. “Any progress he can make will be just fine but this has been going up for so long and it’s so difficult. I’m usually not a pessimist, I’m just being a realist.”Between mentions of foreign issues and interruptions of applause, Bush told the Chamber he will veto any bill that will raise taxes or does not cut the number of earmarks, money allocated in a spending bill for special interest projects.”I was surprised by the adamant veto threats,” Dunaway said. “He said he would veto various things. He drew that line in the sand and that’s going to be a problem in getting things passed.”Any business left on Bush’s domestic agenda could prove difficult to pass with an opposing Democratic Congress.”The only way he can get what he wants is to stop Congress from passing what he doesn’t want,” Yawn said. “It’s very hard domestically to get anything done. If Congress can stall, they have a chance of getting a Democratic president instead of having to compromise and work with a Republican president.”Despite the upcoming elections and bipartisan superiority battles, Bush is hopeful that his policies will be carried out.”Let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibilities and are determined to meet them,” he said. “And let us show them that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time.” Faced with approval ratings in the 30s and a presidency eclipsed by the campaigns for his successor, Bush’s speech delivered past plans in a new context.”I think it was delivered forcibly and it showed that he’s experienced at this point,” Holcombe said. “It was really a defense of his presidency. It showed how confident he is and that he really wanted to go out strong.”

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