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>  News Releases >   2002 >   January

Challenges, successes of Bush's first year should highlight State of the Union Address, Dartmouth professor says

Posted 01/21/02

Commentary by Dean Spiliotes, Assistant Professor of Government

As President Bush finishes his first year in office and prepares to deliver his State of the Union speech to the nation on Tuesday, Jan. 29, most observers would agree that in many ways he has grown into the presidency, particularly in the realm of foreign policy, where candidate Bush had once received a great deal of criticism for lack of knowledge and interest.

It is likely that in assessing the State of the Union, President Bush will highlight the tremendous successes he and his staff have achieved in pursuing the war in Afghanistan and in rallying Americans to a heightened level of patriotism and self-awareness. On the domestic front, he will likely reference improvements in homeland security, a recently signed education bill, and a continued commitment to his tax cut program, as signs of his engagement with a broad domestic policy agenda.

Yet, as members of his party look toward the 2002 Midterm Elections, President Bush faces several difficult tests on the domestic front, as he attempts to convince voters that his agenda transcends its anti-terrorism focus to encompass issues like energy, health care, the environment, and economic stimulus to fight off looming budget deficits. In these areas, he has had much less success in Congress, with a variety of relevant bills still mired in partisan debate.

Whether President Bush can break through in these areas will be an important test for his administration, as voters become accustomed to the war on terrorism and start to focus more directly on these domestic issues in 2002 and beyond.

Dean Spiliotes is an expert on the presidency, with particular emphasis on presidential decision making, campaigns and elections. He also researches bureaucratic politics and the president's interaction with Congress. At Dartmouth, he teaches courses on the American presidency, president/media relations, campaigns and elections, and quantitative political analysis.

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