Bush, GOP Losing Favor with Youngsters?
DANIEL SCHORR: When history looks back on the turning of the tide on support of the Iraq war, Senator Richard Lugar will surely be remembered.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: Monday night, in an almost deserted Senate chamber, loyalist Lugar, the leading Republican on foreign policy, broke with the Bush administration on the Iraq war, calling for a change in the conduct of the war. He must have suffered torments in drafting his 50-minute speech saying that we don't owe the president our unquestioning agreement. But perhaps an equally significant token of the times may be the way young Americans in increasing numbers are turning against President Bush.
In a New York Times/CBS poll, only 28 percent of young people approve of Mr. Bush. And while a bare majority of 51 percent think the United States is still likely to win the war in Iraq, a whopping 70 percent think the United States is on the wrong track. The disaffection of young Americans may have been brought home to the president by an incident last Monday in the White House East Room.
Fifty high school seniors, participants in the prestigious Presidential Scholars Program, were invited to meet with the president. He talked of seeking congressional reauthorization for the No Child Left Behind school program. They handed him a handwritten letter signed by the 50 urging him to respect human rights, saying we do not want America to represent torture.
The specific issue was that the president, using a controversial practice of interpreting a bill in a signing statement, had done that with the McCain Anti-torture Amendment. His signing statement signals that he plans to make exceptions from the ban on torture. Mr. Bush stood for a moment, reading the students' letter. The White House gave no indication that the president would rescind his signing statement. He assured the young scholars that he respects human rights.
When the history of this time is written, surely Senator Lugar will be remembered, and so, I think, will the high school students who talked concern about torture as guests in the East Room.
This is Daniel Schorr.