By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
As Washington prepared for war in the days and hours before missiles and bombs struck Baghdad, the tone was businesslike
And inside the White House, President George W. Bush showed no signs of wavering as he marched America to war, said Kasey Pipes, class of 1995 and associate director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives.
“He is very much in control and very much in focus,” Pipes told the Optimist just hours prior to Bush’s Wednesday night address in which he declared that war had begun in the Middle East once again. “He is in control of events; they are not in control of him.”
Many associates of the president have reported in recent weeks that Bush’s demeanor has not changed since he became president. His pre-terrorism attitude was not much different than his attitude during the war on terrorism, they have said. Pipes agreed.
“He’s always been the way he is,” he said. “He’s a very commanding presence and a very strong leader. He’s always had those traits.”
Now, with a second Gulf War begun, Bush faces the task of leading the nation through a war against someone who may possess weapons of mass destruction, as well as steering the economy away from a recession and rising unemployment numbers.
Many Democrats have criticized the president for abandoning economic concerns for an aggressive foreign policy; they point to a sluggish economy, poor job market and sliding stocks.
“The result of two years of his effort have been 2 million jobs lost, a deficit of now $400 billion, a plummeting stock market and 1 million people without unemployment insurance compensation,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said in January.
Pipes, who also writes speeches for Bush that deal with domestic policy, said Bush has not focused only on war.
“There are a whole slew of issues he has not forgotten about,” Pipes said, referring to the economy. “He has talked about it some in recent days, and he’ll talk about it more in the days to come. He very much wants to move forward on that front as well.”