President George W. Bush’s first year in office began on a low note, but he finished the year with record high approval ratings. UR students have wide-ranging opinions regarding his first year in office. A controversial election in which he lost the popular vote, shocking terrorist attacks, the onset of recession and war have made this one of the most trying years any president has ever had.

Bush opened his State of the Union Address last week by addressing these issues. “As we gather tonight,” he said, “our nation is at war, our economy is in recession and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger.”

Bush’s level of approval is in part of dependent on the party standings. “The State of the Union was excellent,” said freshman David Pascoe, chairperson of UR’s College Republicans. “Bush hit on all the important things that needed to be said ? corporate accountability, homeland defense, tax cuts and moving away from our dependence on foreign oil.”

VP of College Democrats and junior Josh Gifford said, “His State of the Union was a patrotic flag- waving speech to tout success in the war on terrorism.

“He dropped the ball on education, enviroment, and health care, though,” Gifford added.

“His strong points have outshone his weak ones,” said senior and College Libertarians President Rahul Bijlani. “Bush has shown grit, determination and foresight in tackling the Taliban and Al Qaeda.” Bijlani also named tax cuts and “pulling out of an antiquated arms treaty without antagonizing the Russians,” among other things, as Bush’s strong points.

He mentioned several weak points as well. “He has handed too much power to the justice department,” Bijlani said. He was also critical of Bush’s “vetoing stem cell research opportunities, the appointment of John Walters as drug czar and increased government involvement in education.”

Bush set a record on Sept. 22 when 90 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll approved of his handling of his job as president. It was the highest job approval rating in the history of the poll.

This high rating may have stemmed from his decisive stance on combatting terrorism. “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done,” Bush said on Sept. 20 as he laid out America’s response to the attacks of nine days earlier.

“I don’t like him as a person, but I don’t think anyone else would have done as a good job,” junior Zack Sweet said.

“Generally, he’s doing the best he can, although I believe that Al Gore could have done much better,” freshman Sergio Mendez said.

“He’s capable and he’s proven it,” Junior Ariel DeLeon said. “Everyone doubts him and thinks he’s dumb, but so far he’s proved himself.”

“He’s done a satisfactory job, considering the circumstances,” sophomore Bill Hershey said. “But he’s serving his own interests and rewarding the people around him. I’m surprised he hasn’t embarrassed himself yet.”

“I think he had to deal with a really bad situation,” junior Laura Schmidt said. “There was probably no good way out of it.”

“I think Bush has been doing a good job because of the people he has working for him,” junior Matt Tremblay said. “Without Colin Powell or Ashcroft, he’d struggle. I think he needs to focus more on economic stuff.”

Additional reporting by Chadwick Schnee, Kara DeSantis, and Todd Hildebrandt.

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