View Full Version : Bush Speech Elicits Applause, Dread

04-14-04, 12:05 PM
Associated Press
April 14, 2004,
Robert T. Starks, a 60-year-old political science professor at Northeastern Illinois University, labeled President Bush's answers to reporters' questions "vapid, confusing and evasive." He called Bush "an abomination to a great nation."
But Dennis Nelson, commander of an American Legion post in Tampa, Fla., said Bush was exactly as he needed to be in his prime-time address to the nation Tuesday: strong, direct and resolute that the United States will finish the job in Iraq, no matter what.
In bars, restaurants and living rooms across the country, Americans tuned in to watch the president's address, which followed one of the bloodiest periods in Iraq. Afterwards, Bush held a news conference.
Starks watched in Chicago with about 20 members of the Task Force for Black Political Empowerment, a political activist group against the Iraq war.
Nelson, a 51-year-old Vietnam veteran and Republican, watched at the Legion hall with other veterans and their families. He lauded Bush for standing firm, despite increasing instability in Iraq and polls showing fewer Americans approve of the way he's handling the war.
In San Francisco, freelance photographer Tom Erikson, 42, said it angered him to watch the president invoke the memories of the American soldiers who have died thus far.
"The schmaltzy, false sorrow is the most revolting thing to me," Erikson said. "It's crocodile tears when you hear him crying over the dead when he is the one who caused their deaths."
In Dearborn, Mich., as dozens of men participated in evening prayers at the Karbalaa Islamic Center, imam Husham Al-Husainy watched Bush's speech on a small television in his office.
The Iraqi-born Shiite cleric said Bush has good goals to bring democracy and stability to Iraq, but does not appear to have earned the trust of the Iraqi people.
"What he said about the necessity to remove Saddam, that is very true, and the need to fight the terrorists, that is very true," he said. "But the way he is doing that does not always look like what is right."
Bush's speech followed fierce fighting in the predominantly Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah west of Baghdad between insurgents and American troops after a mob mutilated the bodies of American security contractors killed in a March 30 ambush.
U.S. troops have killed about 700 insurgents across Iraq since the beginning of the month. About 80 coalition troops - almost all Americans - have died in the clashes.
An AP poll last week found that 41 percent approved of Bush's performance on foreign policy issues and 51 percent approved of his handling of the war on terrorism. His standing with the public on those issues has dropped since January.
While Bush calls the war in Iraq the front line of the war on terror, an increasing number of people - about half - said it has increased the threat of terrorism, not decreased it, the AP poll found. And more people saw the possibility that Iraq could become like Vietnam, an extended military struggle with no clear resolution.
Buffi Hinker of Lower Township, N.J., is the wife of a New Jersey National Guardsman serving in Iraq. While she's worried by the prospect of troops being kept longer over there, she said she was comforted by Bush's repeated mentions of the soldiers' families at home.
"He's willing to take a stand and to back it up, regardless of whether it's not as popular as people want it to be," said Hinker, 32, a Republican. "He understands what the families are going through."
Jill Zack, an Albuquerque, N.M., Democrat and marketing manager, was unmoved by Bush's address, accusing the president of changing his story to justify the war.
"We went there because we were scared they had weapons of mass destruction, but now it's about Iraqi freedom," said Zack, 26. "But is that our desire or their desire?"
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