Associated Press

Bush speech gets high marks at Nashville bar

March 17, 2003, Monday, BC cycle
Bush speech gets high marks at Nashville bar

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 419 words


Attention at Sam’s Bar & Grill switched Monday night from green St. Patrick’s Day beer and March Madness basketball to President Bush’s televised ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.

The packed sports bar erupted in applause for the president as the speech ended.

“We didn’t ask for the war,” said Zak Keiper, 28, a Nashville parking manager. “It got taken to us Sept. 11. We proved long ago that we’d rather be isolationist.”

Keiper, who majored in foreign policy at Middle Tennessee State University, blamed politics for the refusal of nations such as France and Russia to support the U.S. position.

“French tanks only go in reverse,” he said as lifted a bottle of Budweiser.

Sam’s Bar & Grill is in Hillsboro Village, which is near Vanderbilt University and a few blocks from Music Row, home of the country music industry.

A half-dozen friends from Vanderbilt University Law School sat at a table in the back below a neon “Michelob Light” sign, debating the need for war against Iraq. All but one were generally supportive of Bush’s plans, and the critic declined to be interviewed.

“At this point, it’s sort of become a necessity,” said Jeffrey Usman, 24, of Smiths, Ala. “If you believe that Saddam is developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and would use them against the U.S., then it becomes an act of self-defense.”

David Debord, 24, of Portsmouth, Ohio, agreed with his friend.

“I think if Bush was really that much of a warmonger, we would have gone in a month ago,” Debord said. “I think he did try diplomacy.”

Still, Debord criticized Bush’s harsh words for the U.N. Security Council.

“I think he was really too hard on the U.N.,” Debord said. “Unless we want to be the policemen of the world and take care of every little dispute, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Among the few dissenters in the bar was Gulf War veteran Jason White, 31, a computer network administrator.

White, who served four years in the Air Force, said the United States faces greater threats than Iraq. He cited North Korea as an example.

“For one, we’ve stretched ourselves too thin,” White said. “We shouldn’t do this by ourselves. We’ve been policing the world for too long. It’s time for everybody else to step up.”

Jeff Bayer, 36, a television producer from Nashville, said he “goes both ways” on the need for war and his position wavers from day to day.

“I feel good about what Bush said tonight,” Bayer said. “I feel like, now that we’re going in, I have to back him on it.”

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