Jan 282008
Authors: Aaron Hedge, Katy Hallock

In the last national address he will give as president, George W. Bush pleaded for Congress to continue working with his administration to implement better fiscal policy and stay the course in Iraq.

Riding a wave of excitement from Democrats over what was Bush’s last State of the Union Address, the seven-year commander-in-chief implored Congress not to stray from his controversial brand of fiscal, social and foreign policy, which he praised as having put a better face on American politics.

“He did what you’d do and what I’d do as a last shot (saying) ‘I did a good job . I was tough and resolute,'” said CSU political science professor John Straayer after the speech, which Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) praised as “the last time George Bush will give a State of the Union” earlier that day.

Much of the speech was spent emphasizing the success of Bush’s Iraq troop surge earlier this year, which military officials reported has greatly reduced sectarian violence in the Middle East and said his administration would stay the course until it was safe to withdraw troops.

“Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated,” Bush said. “Any further drawdown will be based on our progress in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders.”

Bill Chaloupka, a CSU political science professor, said after the speech that the address must have been “painful” for Bush, who had to propagate one of the most infamous administrations in the history of America and encourage Americans to continue supporting what many see as failed policy.

“The last State of the Union speech for a two-term president is a tricky thing,” Chaloupka said. “He’s got a lot of books to read, a lot of movies to watch, and he won’t spend too much time thinking about this election . it’s not gonna be much fun for George W. Bush.”

Bush told the people what to expect this year fiscally from his administration, urging Congress to follow through on its commitment to implement a $150 billion stimulus plan as a last ditch effort to save the economy, which is teetering on recession after a series of stock market dives this month.

He also warned that he would veto any effort to increase taxes or any bill that failed to slash earmarks in half, which Straayer said displays a mentality that has pervaded the Bush administration since the beginning of his presidency — that Congress works for his administration.

But the president did break stride when he talked about drafting policy that would cut red tape for prospective immigrants who he said would stimulate the economy, which is widely unpopular in the GOP.

“He was clearly not playing to the base of his party,” Straayer said. “I applaud him on that.”

But Straayer said although Republicans cheered the speech 70 times in 53 minutes, everyone is ready for change.

“If you look at the faces of the people as the camera panned around the (Senate) Chambers, they looked tired,” he said.

Some CSU students are also ready for this to be Bush’s last hurrah.

Matt Parker, a junior marketing major from Denver, expressed a disappointment with the Bush administration’s disconnected relationship with the public interest.

“I’m looking forward to a different take at running the country,” he said. “The president needs to be personal with Americans. It’s part of their responsibility.”

Jonathan Keating, a junior biomedical science major from Colorado Springs, said that though Bush had good intentions, he didn’t agree with much of the actual policy during the last seven years.

“There was a lack of foresight with Iraq, Katrina and the environment,” Keating said. “He had good intentions but did things for the wrong reasons . I hope the next president learned from the last eight years.”

Staff writer Katy Hallock and News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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