President Bush's State of the Union speech drew divergent opinions today in a random survey taken in downtown Lawrence.
Edward Bethea, a Lawrence graduate student at Kansas University, called the speech "interesting" but said he was unsure whether it would lead to reforms.
"His programs on the national health program, I thought, showed promise," he said. "Whether he does it or not, we'll see."
Bethea said he was interested in the proposal to lower student loan interest rates. He agreed with Bush that social welfare programs were intended as short-term, rather than long-term, remedies.
"As far as the deficit and interest rates, we'll see," he said. "I'd like to buy my first home. I like to save money, and I like to put an IRA away. And using an IRA as a means to buy a home, and not being penalized, I thought that was good."
Bethea then put the president's comments in a re-election perspective.
"THIS IS a political year, and he's probably pulling everything out of the bag now to be re-elected," he said.
Also expressing the "good speech, let's see" theme was Ray Stoneback of Lawrence. He called Bush's presentation "very dynamic" but added, "I was kind of disappointed that it wasn't something new and great.''
``I was hoping he might get the Democratic Congress to be more cooperative; it doesn't sound like they're going to be," he said.
Other people's feelings about the speech were more clear-cut. Lawrence resident Marc Dever called the speech "blase" and was critical of Bush.
"I don't think it has anything to do with reality," he said. "It's Madison Avenue, it's advertising, it's stroke everybody so he can get re-elected and take it from there. I don't think he had anything to offer for anyone."
Sandi Zimdars-Swartz, Lawrence, said Bush's economic policies "identified with the rich and left the middle class in the lurch. That's sort of what I expect from Bush."
Sitting a table away from Zimdars-Swartz at Jennings Daylight Donut Shop, Lawrence resident Norma Kampschroeder called the speech "pretty great." Kampschroeder agreed with Bush that the taxes on capital gains from investments should be decreased.
"I THINK he is trying to do everything he can if Congress will go along with him," she said.
Other public comments followed political party lines. Amy Abbuhl, a KU junior from Hutchinson, said she was not very impressed with Bush.
"I thought it was a lot of talk," she said, adding that she was a Democrat.
Former Topeka Mayor Chuck Wright, now of Lecompton, took the opposite view and blamed Congress for some of the nation's problems.
"I'm a Republican, and I'm definitely opposed to what the Democrats are trying to inflict on this country," he said. "I don't think President Bush or any other Republican could say anything that would change their minds."