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Fletcher Students Assess Bush's Vision

Fletcher Students Assess Bush's VisionWhenPresident Bush gave the first State of the Union address of hissecond term, the world was watching – including a groupof students from the Fletcher School.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.08.05] Coming off a hard-fought election campaign that placedseveral contentious issues on the front burner, President Bushdelivered a State of the Union address on Feb. 2 to a partisanCongress and a divided populace. Among those listening was a groupof international relations students from The Fletcher School,who offered their insights to National Public Radio.

Brian Doench,whose home state of Ohio played a critical role in the outcomeof the presidential race, homed in on the centerpiece of Bush’ssecond-term domestic agenda – the introduction of privateinvestment accounts to the Social Security system.

Accordingto the 29-year-old Doench, the proposal is very similar to theretirement plans that people like him already have.

“Inmy experience, most people plan to supplement their Social Security,”he told NPR. “Even right now, I don't know thatmany people who can actually survive solely on Social Securitychecks.”

Other studentsfocused on the foreign affairs portion of Bush’s speech.With U.S. troops still stationed in Iraq and diplomatic battlesin Israel and Iran looming, interest was high in Bush’stake on the next four years on the international stage.

One Fletcherstudent says that Bush’s talk was less harsh than past references–such as the placement of Iran, Iraq and North Korea in an “axisof evil” during 2002’s State of the Union.

“Hetoned down his rhetoric,” said Rudy Jaafar, a 26-year-oldfrom Lebanon. “He did not look for those big, broad sweepswhere American democracy is fighting evil in this world and somecountries are part of evil.”

A fellow student,however, saw traces of that rhetoric sprinkled throughout theaddress.

“Atleast 19 mentions of ‘freedom' and at least 21 mentionsof ‘terror,'” tallied Melissa Tritter. “‘Terror'is the winner in that speech.”

Accordingto NPR, the Fletcher students they interviewed aboutthe speech found favor with Bush’s mentions of Iran andSyria, but wondered about Bush’s plans for Afghanistan,the environment and the nation’s global economic concerns.

Karoun Demirjian,23, told NPR that while Bush’s presentation getsan A, the content of his speech gets a B-.

“I thinkthat though he addressed the topics that we all expected he wouldaddress with poise and with good speech and with new ideas, Idon't think that the United States' foreign policy can or doesrest entirely on Iraq and its direct environs,” Demirjianexplained. “And I don't think that he moved beyond thatvery much.”







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