Following a contestuous presidential election, students gathered around Ann Arbor to watch President Bush’s State of the Union address. The College Republicans met at Pizza House to hear the president’s plans for his next term. The group that dedicated its efforts toward re-electing Bush this past November seemed to agree with most of the policy discussed in the address. LSA sophomore and chair of the College Republicans Ali Jacobs said she felt that Bush spoke well. “He’s not giving exact details but his entire goal,” she said.She said she felt the speech was direct and clear. “He’s saying: These are the things I’ve accomplished in the past four years, and here’s what I will do,” she said.But LSA sophomore Virginia Corrigan, a member of the College Democrats’ executive board, had a different reaction. “I think it was more of the same, he hasn’t offered me anything new to see him in a better light,” she said. The reactions varied as Bush continued to discuss domestic issues. His plan for Social Security has prompted much discussion in the past. Jacobs said that though it was a partisan issue, Bush backed up his plans with facts. “I think he’s rebuking a lot of myths. There’s a lot of propaganda about personal accounts. He’s saying to the public not to believe what the Left is telling them,” she said. Still, other members of the College Democrats were not convinced. LSA junior and College Democrats Vice Chair Libby Benton said, “I was really disturbed by President Bush making it seem like Social Security is in a state of crisis. It’s not being honest to the American people and what’s going to happen to them.” LSA sophomore Ryan Werdei agreed. “(Bush) should be spending money on social security instead of making private accounts that will put far too much risk into the system. They give people the chance of putting all of their money into a faulty investment,” he said. But LSA sophomore Eric Burgess felt Bush’s speech was reassuring. “I’m glad he made it explicitly clear that he would not take away benefits for people over 55,” he said. Michael Traugott is a research professor at the Center for Political Studies. He does not think that it will be easy to bring together the two sides over the Social Security reform issue. “Social Security and Medicare issues will divide the country along generational lines. It turns the older beneficiaries against the younger payers,” he said. LSA sophomore Denise Wang thought the most inspiring aspect of the speech was when Bush described programs to help small businesses. “I am a female minority who is planning to go into business to start my own company. I think his policies will really support people like me. Businesses today aren’t getting the incentive to develop and he’s giving them help,” she said.Bush described his international agenda during the second half of his address. Corrigan said she was dissatisfied with Bush’s foreign policy record. “I would have liked to see some kind of interest in fulfilling a foreign policy that isn’t entirely belligerent but instead builds coalitions,” she said. Jacobs felt differently. “The biggest thing that will stick with viewers is that we’re not (in Iraq) to establish our culture onto them, but to give them the liberties that we enjoy,” she said. Traugott considered the President’s guests in the audience to be indicative of a message to viewers. “It is very common for there to be special guests in the audience, but it is especially interesting that his guests were foreigners from the Middle East, as well as parents of a deceased soldier from Texas. This shows the sacrifice that Americans make individually for this war in Iraq,” he said. LSA Senior Julie Zachwieja felt that Bush made an effort to bring the divided nation together. “A lot of these ideas, Kerry had in his campaign, this will get everyone to stand behind him,” she said. Werdei was not moved to unity. “I felt at points he attempted to reach over the aisle, but it was a half-hearted attempt. It will take actions, not just three sentences in his address to bring people together,” he said.

Chelsea Trull
College Republicans gathered to watch President Bush make his State of the Union Address at Pizza House last night. (Tommaso Gomez/Daily)

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