President George W. Bush used Tuesday night’s nationally televised State of the Union Address to push his administration’s platform on domestic and foreign policy matters that are perceived to be of great importance to many American citizens.
The speech was broadcasted live on the big screen at the Rat, part of an evening program called “Is Bush Effective?” sponsored by the student organization Council for Democracy.
According to law, Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires that the President deliver an address to a joint session of Congress at the start of every legislative session every January. The speech is a pivotal and highly publicized annual event, where a President is supposed to present the status of America.
Bush focused his speech on tackling the major issues of Iraq, the economy, healthcare and homeland security.
Bush elicited much laughter in the crowd at the Rat when proposing $1.2 billion of tax money toward developing “clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.”
“The simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen produces only energy and water,” Bush said.
Bush also vowed to “pass a law against human cloning” and “end partial-birth abortion.”
He also spoke lengthily about “confronting the man-made evil of international terrorism.”
The largest laugh of the night came when Bush proposed $6 billion in research and production for “Project BioShield,” a series of “effective vaccines against anthrax, Ebola and plague.”
Bush received dozens of standing ovations from the members of Congress, but he didn’t get any applause in the Rat until his final message: “May God continue to bless the USA.”
Council for Democracy President David McCombie has been with the group since it was organized and registered as a student group in October 2002.
“Council for Democracy is not advocating anything in particular,” McCombie, a second-year Economics major, said. “We just want to sponsor a healthy debate.”
Student protesters of the anti-war group, Not In Our Name, Miami, were visible at the front entrance of the Rat before the address, distributing literature and educating passersby of the truth behind Bush’s policies.
They displayed various signs, including one with a quote from Albert Einstein:
“You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time.” Many viewed this as a critique of Bush’s seemingly hypocritical positions on international peace and war against terrorism.
“We didn’t liberate the Afghan people – their country is in ruins,” said freshman Richard Haigin in a rebuttal to Bush’s declaration that America may proceed with action against Iraq without international support. “We’re not going to do that to Iraq.”
Following the hour-long speech by President Bush, Professors Juliet Gainsborough and Pete Moore of the Political Science Department issued their criticisms of Bush’s address.
According to Gainsborough, Bush presented a balance of domestic and foreign issues, much more balanced than one would expect in this period of international tension.
“Bush needed to show the American people that he cared for domestic issues,” said Gainsborough, who specializes in urban and domestic politics. “It was intriguing to me that the first part of the speech was dedicated to domestic policy.”
“We don’t have a very good record in the developing world of liberating countries,” Moore said. “In fact, we’ve been terrible.”
“We need to find out whether our administration is talking about disarmament or about regime change,” Moore continued. “If the policy is regime change, then nothing will get [Iraq] to disarm. They will hold their weapons as a last resort.”
The public reception for the address drew well over 100 people.
“Anything that gets political dialogue on campus is good,” Gainsborough said. “I like seeing activism on campus – I think it’s exciting.”
Council for Democracy is planning a forum in the spring with Dean Wyche of the College of Arts and Sciences on “Politics of Medical Research.”
For more information on Council for Democracy visit
Sam Lockhart can be contacted at email@example.com.