Czech Reaction to Bush's State of the Union Address

Straight, Like a Sheriff

Milan Vodicka, Mlada Fronta Dnes (independent), Prague, Czech Republic, January 31, 2002

Bush addresses supporters in Atlanta, Jan. 31, 2002 (Photo: AFP)
It’s clear that George Bush takes the safety of Americans as much to heart as he does their financial security—and his very own job for that matter. One could hear this clearly in his [state of the union] speech to the American people. He spoke firmly, directly, and clearly, like a sheriff at high noon: The fight is not over yet. This is the message he sent to his country (and to the world, too, for the message is of broader concern).

The cattle hustlers may have been scattered, but there are more roaming the land. The danger hasn’t passed.

This was the right thing to say. Everyone was greatly relieved by the quick victory in Afghanistan; everyone has the sense that the nightmare has ended and that the world is returning to normal. Maybe it has, and maybe it hasn’t. But probably it hasn’t. The worst mistake now would probably be to relax and forget. In the war against terrorism, we’ve climbed high mountains, and now a great wilderness spreads out before us. The danger of terrorism is constant, unforgiving, real, and everywhere—despite the fact that American flags now fly in Afghanistan and that Afghans in movie theaters can again applaud the antics of John Rambo.

Americans have ceased to sense this danger because another concern has appeared. Now their money is at risk. The country is in recession. Bush, therefore, has attempted to show his deep concern for their bank accounts and job security. In essence, it seems that he has declared war on the recession.

Can you guess why he is undertaking this new endeavor? Bush, naturally, is thinking of his own political security. He sees in front of him the sad fate of his own father: the great victor of the Cold War, the great victor of the Gulf War, who basked in glory and yet, a year later, lost an election. In his day, he was caught off balance by a recession. Americans felt that the president cared more about the world than about their paychecks.

Bush Jr. doesn’t want to let something like this happen to him. He’s trying to turn his military popularity into a domestic gain. Apparently, he’s among those who know how to learn from their elders’ mistakes.

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