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Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 00:52 GMT
US media: Unity amid divisions
Mr Bush and leaders of Congress
Newspaper urges Mr Bush to use first days wisely
By Kevin Anderson in Washington

The US press is in broad agreement after Saturday's presidential inauguration that the ceremony acted towards uniting the country behind George W Bush.

But, they also noted the raw feelings expressed by the largest turnout of protestors since Richard Nixon's second inauguration in 1973.

And even though the media expects the country to swing behind George W Bush, various commentators found room to offer advice on how to avoid disharmony and be a successful president.

The ceremony of inauguration

RJ Apple of the New York Times said that a question mark hung over George W Bush as he took the oath of office.
George W Bush
New York Times: The ceremony of inauguration will help settle questions of Mr Bush's legitimacy

"Unlike most of his 41 precursors, Mr. Bush entered the White House without an unchallenged, universally accepted title to office," Mr Apple wrote

But, as he was sworn in, "at that very moment, and through that very act, the new president started to dispel the challenges to his legitimacy," he added.

Mr Apple acknowledged the protestors on the streets of Washington as signs that debate still exists about the legitimacy of the George W Bush's presidency, but he also expects that debate to soften over time.

Seeing Mr Bush now carrying out his duties as president will wear down detractors over time, but he said that the ceremony of the inauguration was key in the process of legitimising the Bush presidency.

It is "one of the surpassing rituals of the American democracy," he said.

Disharmony on the fringes

The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach, who writes a wry column called "Rough Draft", noted voices of discontent at the ceremony.
police arrest a protestor
'The biggest problem today was that unmistakable vibe of unhappiness around the fringes of the event'

In his inaugural edition, Mr Achenbach said: "The biggest problem today was that unmistakable vibe of unhappiness around the fringes of the event."

"Thousands of people showed up with the firmest of convictions that George W Bush does not have a legitimate claim to power. Among them, only Al Gore held his tongue," he said.

Mr Achenbach quoted one protestor: "Nobody cares about democracy as long as there's a smooth transition of power."

"The new president spoke of unity, common ideals, shared values. He's got a lot of work to do to make that come about," he wrote.

Homegrown advice

And the Dallas Morning News outlined what it thought was the work that lie ahead for the 43rd President of the United States.

The newspaper says that Mr Bush's first 100 days in office, as they have with his predecessors, are critical.

In this window, agendas are set and perceptions formed as the new president defines his objectives. Accomplishments are magnified, as are mis-steps

Dallas Morning News

Mr Bush campaigned as a uniter, not a divider, and "the disputed vote count and John Ashcroft's nomination as attorney general present the Bush administration with a race and fairness issue that the president needs to address firmly and forthrightly," the paper said.

The paper suggests that Mr Bush address the issues of racial profiling, access to DNA evidence and competent counsel in murder cases and election law reform.

To pass his agenda, he must also reach out to conservative Democrats, something that he said he did in Texas.

They also said that Mr Bush could gain political momentum by pushing for education reform.

The newspaper said the issue enjoys broad national support and praised his choice for secretary of education, Rod Paige.

They said Mr Paige would be a strong advocate for holding failing schools accountable, returning more control of schools to local officials and improving young students' level of literacy.


Bush presidency:


Texts and transcripts:


See also:

20 Jan 01 | UK Politics
'No change' in US-UK relations
19 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton escapes Lewinsky charges
20 Jan 01 | Americas
Doubts remain about Florida vote
19 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush promises fresh start
13 Jan 01 | Americas
Hoteliers cash in on Bush's big day
14 Jan 01 | Americas
The Clinton years
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