#039;Our union is strong#039;

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003

President George W. Bush addressed the nation Tuesday night. In his annual State of the Union address, Bush split time between domestic politics and what one local scholar called &uot;an obvious prelude to war.&uot;

&uot;We can talk about domestic side, but that was almost irrelevant,&uot; said Dr. James Rinehart, Dean of Political Science at Troy State University. &uot;He made little comment about the economy, which really surprised me.&uot;

Rinehart said the real focus of the speech was the looming preemptive attack of Iraq, a move that he said could have

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escalatory consequences.

&uot;If there was any doubt about whether we were going to war, those doubts should have now been put to bed,&uot; he said. &uot;If we remove Saddam and set up a general to be the political leader of the country, like we did in Japan, that could be our greatest vulnerability and could upset the balance of power in the region. The Arab nations won't sit on their hands and do nothing and it certainly will involve Israel. It's a dangerous gambit.&uot;

Marshall Maher, an Austin political journalist who has followed Bush since his time as Texas governor, called the

speech &uot;pretty weak.&uot;

&uot;He's about to lead a world into war. To say 'We'll give you evidence next month at some UN meeting,'was pretty soft,&uot; Maher said.

As far as change since his time in Texas, Maher said much was left to be desired.

&uot;He's thrived off of low expectations since he was governor and he's even joked about his C average,&uot; Maher said. &uot;Now there are huge expectations and he didn't really hit it out of the park. The world was watching and a lot of people are going to be disappointed.&uot;

Lawrence Bowden, head of the Pike County Republican Committee, enjoyed the speech.

&uot;It was a great report on the status of the nation,&uot; he said. &uot;He did an outstanding job and he touched on all of the main issues that the people are interested in.&uot;

&uot;He talked about the medical issues for the old and young and his plans for the economy were very positive,&uot; Bowden said. &uot;He seemed to get an enthusiastic approach from people in the chamber, but it's hard to tell what one side of the aisle is doing.&uot;

Jose Henderson, a member of the Troy City Council representing District 1 is an avid follower of politics but was less satisfied with Bush's economic outline.

&uot;The only thing he was clear on was the war,&uot; he said. &uot;There was a lot of rhetoric about faith-based initiatives and funds for drugs, but there was no legislation and not a lot of talk about the economic problems facing the states and local communities.&uot;