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George W. Bush’s ‘to do’ list

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, November 22, 2004

President George W. Bush has won the presidential election. Upon hearing this news, some of you may have felt like running through Stonehenge, screaming, “Victory is ours!” Others deliberated the possibility of a four-year hibernation, preferably located far away from the United States or any country she may invade.

Bush has, however, been granted four more years by the American people. And while dissent may seem like the best (or at least the most satisfying) option for those of us who don’t support his agenda, it is important for the well being of the nation that we recognize his victory.

Despite this acceptance, however, I do not advocate the wanton promotion of current administrative policy. I’ll leave that rather sinister task to international man of mystery Vice President Dick Cheney, whom I hear is currently in an undisclosed location (Bush’s mind). I believe criticism should and will play a vital role during Bush’s second term.

Regardless of how you may view his first four years in office, this second term is by no means a predestined failure. Bush has, however, a daunting task ahead of him if he is to unite rather than divide America. Following his first term, there is a substantial schism between Republicans and Democrats in this country, and compassionate conservatism, as interpreted by his administration, appears to be at best a failure or at worst an oxymoron.

So, what does the President need to accomplish in order to make his last four years in office a success?

Hooked on Phonics might be a good start.

He also needs to rescue American troops from the quagmire that is Iraq, yet not leave the country in the midst of armed chaos. No matter what you think of the war, it would be wholly irresponsible to abandon Iraq after having invaded it. Bush hopes to eventually transfer power to the Iraqis. This task, however, will not be easy. If he institutes a draft during this process, he will undoubtedly draw the wrath of the general citizenry. It will also be exceedingly difficult to eradicate religious fanaticism and anti-Western sentiment, primary reasons the war continues.

On this note, our prior unilateral foreign policy has contributed to an increase in anti-American sentiment throughout the world. Bush must revamp our international image by relying first on diplomacy before resorting to force, and, while prioritizing America’s interests, he must at the very least appear to seek international opinion. Hopefully, he will actually take into account and learn the positions of other countries (both geographically and politically).

The strain on our armed forces from the war with Iraq is great, and leaves the United States with few reserves. We are unable to intervene in Sudan or Uganda, both of which are in dire need of aid. While America has recognized the crises in these countries, if Bush is unable to either court armed international support for an intervention or divert troops from Iraq to these areas, the multitude of deaths that have and will occur in Africa will be a black mark on the legacy of his administration.

Bush also needs to effect change in terms of domestic policy. His promised tort reform may indeed be an effective way to lower the costs of health care, and encourage doctors to perform life-saving procedures, which are sometimes considered to be a higher risk. Since 2000, 5,200,000 Americans have lost health insurance. If Bush intends his second term to be a success, he must remedy this situation.

In addition, Bush must fully fund the “No Child Left Behind Act.” While the need for a national standard may be debatable, punishing under-funded schools for being unable to meet it is not. Ensuring adequate support would allow schools to successfully implement this new program.

While I am more skeptical of Bush’s projected success in these areas, I believe he also must adopt a stricter environmental policy. Additionally, with the resignation of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bush has the opportunity to increase protection of civil rights, although Ashcroft’s dubious successor, Alberto Gonzales, may be a detriment to this cause.

So, President Bush, you have four years. May you use them wisely and well. And don’t forget to pick up a gallon of 2% milk.

Katie Boyle is a senior English, political science and Spanish major. She supports the Democratic Party. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.