Last week’s terrorist attacks have left an indelible mark on our country. Many Americans are feeling vulnerable, and many more are feeling angry.
In times such as these, Americans have always turned toward their leaders for comfort and guidance. The question is whether or not our current leader is up to the task.
In the weekend just prior to last Tuesday, Gallup polling placed Bush’s approval rating at 51%. The latest poll, taken four days after the terrorist attacks, showed a 35-point jump to 86%.
This rally in support of the president is to be expected — past presidents have enjoyed bumps in their approval in times of crisis. But has the president done anything to deserve such high marks?
Thus far the President’s administration has had a bumpy ride. Had you asked me a month ago what the goals of the Bush administration were, I would not have been able to give a complete answer. But my answer has changed drastically.
The tragedy and utter confusion of the past week have resulted in a moment of clarity for Bush-administration officials. They have seen the enemy, and they are planning the attack.
In this great time of need, George W. Bush has proven his mettle. The situation calls for strength, compassion and rational action. I believe that he has shown each of these things. The president has shown strength in many statements, evoking American pride and using rousing words to bolster weary souls.
Traveling to New York City against the advice of the secret service, he stood upon a pile of rubble and proclaimed that those who would perpetrate such vile acts are the enemies of freedom and all Americans. Cheers went up as he said that those responsible would soon hear all of us. The faces of the rescue workers lit up as he clasped their hands and patted their backs.
President Bush has also spoken out strongly against those that would discriminate against Arab-Americans and Muslims simply because of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. Monday the president stood barefoot in a Muslim Center, and denounced anyone who would attack fellow Americans because of their Arab descent as the worst of humankind.
Bush’s compassion also showed through in a press conference in the Oval Office last Thursday. His eyes welled up with tears as he said, ‘I am a loving guy, and I am also someone, however, who has got a job to do.’
Make no mistake: he has been doing his job well. He has shown restraint and rationality by not ordering attacks immediately following the pronouncement of Osama Bin Laden as the prime suspect. When you consider the tendencies of some in his cabinet, this was surely not an easy task.
But we will strike back, probably very soon — and we should. I strongly believe that military action will be an appropriate response to the devastation and destruction we have experienced.
My confidence has grown and is growing in the way the president handles the responsibility he is shouldering.
So, has the president done anything to deserve such high marks? I believe so. In Madison this may be an unpopular belief, but I can take comfort in knowing there are people outside of this enchanted city who feel as I do. It is no coincidence Madison has been called 25 square miles surrounded by reality. For those of you who agree with me, take heart. We are not as few as you might imagine.
We are all Americans, and we all value our freedoms. I applaud those who will rally for peace this afternoon — these rallies have been quintessential to campus life here for decades and symbolize the freedom we all treasure.
While I disagree with the rally’s stated principle of stopping any war movement that exists, I am encouraged that the other principles are the end of racial scapegoating and the defense of civil liberties.
I strongly believe that military action will be an appropriate response to the devastation and destruction we have experienced, but that does not mean anyone should be persecuted for being of Middle-Eastern descent or in any way associated with those guilty of these crimes. I certainly don’t agree with the political theme of the rally, but you will find an ally in me when you work to end mindless discrimination.