The leaders of the College Republicans and College Democrats had different perspectives on President Bush’s sixth State of the Union address last night.

Bush began his speech by congratulating Pelosi and the new Democratic majority in Congress.

“It was a moving moment when the President congratulated the Speaker of the House,” said Jamie Ruth, chair of the University’s chapter of the College Democrats. We were keenly aware of that fact that this was the first time we saw a Democratic Speaker (sitting) behind the president.”

During the speech, Bush spoke of his plans to reform immigration policy and reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. He also spoke of his desire to decrease American dependence on foreign oil and help make health care affordable.

Bush began talking about Iraq 20 minutes into the speech, calling the war a “decisive ideological struggle.” He reiterated his motivation for increasing the American troop presence in Iraq but included few details on future plans for the Middle East.

“I think that what was most interesting about his speech is that he spent so little time on foreign policy matters,” Ruth said. “His speech was a confirmation of his weakness with regards to foreign policy.”

Bush cited recent successes in national security and praised those who dedicate their lives to the war on terror.

But Rob Scott, chair of the University’s chapter of the College Republicans, said the situation in Iraq is very different than it was three years ago, and that the president did well to make that argument.

“I thought he did an excellent job framing the argument that this is an entirely different situation than the situation that we initially took on,” Scott said.

Bush also proposed dramatic changes to the nation’s tax laws in an effort to expand health care coverage.

Health Management and Policy Prof. Catherine McLaughlin said making health care affordable is the most pressing need in health policy.

“Whether public, private or a blend of public and private coverage is secondary,” McLaughlin said. “I think several different approaches deserve consideration, but we’ve never had a federal commitment, in writing, to making this work.”

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