Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bush Spoke, They Listened

These are the reactions of people from various parts of the U.S. to Bush's Monday night speech.

From a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts:

For Goldberg, 66, an investment manager, the sadness stems from what he believes is the failure of a war he once reluctantly supported, hoping it would make the world safer from terrorism.
"I don't see how we can pull off a smooth transition," Goldberg said, shaking his head.
He is particularly wary of Islamic fundamentalism, but he was not hopeful about the president's assurances on Iraq's future, and believes the U.S. will hand authority to the U.N. as quickly as possible and pull out.
"Should we leave the country, it will be a colossal victory for the jihadist movement," said Goldberg, who voted for Bush in 2000 but said he's likely to vote against him this year.
McElaney, 38, a medical salesman, said the speech did nothing to ease his anger. "I don't feel we should have been there in the first place," he said.
As for the handover, "I don't really see it happening by the end of June," he said. "I think Spain made the right decision getting out when they did."
A third man at the counter, who wouldn't give his name, said America must accept that the Sept. 11 terror attacks were a declaration of war against the country, and America must be prepared to respond forcefully.
"I'm confused, but not so confused that I'm ready to leave Iraq," he said. "When they flew those planes into the buildings, they started a war."

From Dearborn, Michigan, a major center of Iraqis in the U.S.:

"I believe that the country will get the elections," 24-year-old Nasser Nasser said while watching Bush's speech broadcast and translated over an Arabic television station.
"He says he's going to give this and that, but I'm worried that this is all for votes," Nasser couldn't help but add, as he munched on a kabob wrapped in pita. Even so, he said the United States should remain after a new government is in place because he believes an early exit could lead to civil war.
At the Karbalaa Islamic Center, many were happy with Bush's pledges. But not all.
As the day's final call to prayer echoed in the mosque, Hadi Hadi pounded his chest in disgust, too distrustful to even watch the speech.
"Anything he says is a lie," said Hadi Hadi, 43, who had just arrived back from a visit to Baghdad. "The Americans are using means that don't rely on Iraqis. They're beginning to use the Ba'athists, those criminals, and this is a big mistake."

And from Wadesville, Indiana, the mother of a soldier stationed in Iraq:

"The ordinary Iraqi citizens will maybe in time say no to these factions or help us in a way," Arnold said. "It's not going to be an instant thing. I don't think any of this is instant. It's going to take time."
She wonders if the troops really will be out of Iraq by 2005. Still, she was pleased to hear that President Bush was talking about training more Iraqi troops.
"I think that's the only way they're going to learn to take care of themselves," Arnold said.
Arnold was Bush supporter before, and that hasn't changed.
He is "making a statement we're not there to take over the country, to replace Saddam," Arnold said. "We're there to help the people. That's what America is about, the freedoms."

These are not meant to be representative views, of course, but they're interesting nevertheless. For example, people seem to hear what they are already convinced about.
It's all sort of depressing, especially that one comment above which bears repeating:

"I'm confused, but not so confused that I'm ready to leave Iraq," he said. "When they flew those planes into the buildings, they started a war."

Yep. He sure is confused. Sigh.