02/01/06 — What's local take on State of the Union?

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What's local take on State of the Union?

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 1, 2006 1:56 PM

Four Wayne County residents from different walks of life joined the millions of Americans who tuned in Tuesday as President Bush reflected on the State of the Union.

Bailey Thorpe and her boyfriend Russell Bashford seldom agree, they said. But last night, both found comfort in Bush's speech.

"There were so many things he said that I liked," Ms. Thorpe, 22, said. "Especially the part where he honored the parents of that soldier who died in the War on Terror."

Bashford, 23, agreed.

"I didn't vote for the guy," he said. "But I think we can all agree that he showed compassion for military families last night. You could tell he really does care."

Ms. Thorpe stared at her boyfriend.

"Of course he does, he's the president of the United States," she said, still staring across the table. "He's a dad. He understands."

While Bashford said he is more liberal than his girlfriend, he sided with the president on a controversial issue.

"I'm glad he defended the NSA thing," he said. "We have to do whatever we can to prevent more attacks. I can't believe people have a problem with it."

Bush stood by his decision to monitor some United States residents via wire taps, telling Congress he acted with the authority granted to him by the Constitution.

Willie Duncan said he isn't quite so sure.

"How do we know that honest, hard-working Americans aren't being recorded and monitored when they communicate?" he asked. "I think privacy is one of the things that makes America great. And he's (Bush) taking it away."

Duncan, a retired teacher, said he didn't agree with Bush on most issues. But one part of the speech gave him chills.

"The beginning was so fitting," he said. "When the president honored the late Coretta Scott King, man it was a beautiful moment. I don't like what he (Bush) does most of the time, but that was a real warm gesture to African Americans across the country."

Nick Stepp agreed.

"It must have been a proud moment for Dr. King, wherever his spirit was in that moment," he said.

Stepp, 26, classified himself as working class, and tuned in last night hoping President Bush would answer concerns he had over gas costs.

"I didn't really understand how what he was saying is gonna help me put gas in the tank," he said. "But at least he can see that we are struggling to get by. He said we need to look at other ways to fuel, and he's right."

Bush told Congress the government needs to be less dependent on foreign oil and went as far as calling the U.S. culture "addicted" to oil.

"He's right," Stepp said. "It's all people have been talking about since that hurricane."

Ms. Thorpe said she was glad she and her boyfriend got a chance to watch the speech, even if it kept them up arguing for hours afterwards.

"Well, like I said before, he's the president of the United States," she said. "You may not like him or the Republicans, but he's still our leader. And when he takes the time out to talk to all of us for over an hour like that, you better listen."