- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Patrons at Peggy O'Neill's Irish Pub in Brooklyn last night applauded and cheered President George W. Bush with the same kind of enthusiasm they show the New York Mets and the New York Jets.

"I have to be honest. I didn't vote for the guy. But I think he's doing a fantastic job, and his speech tonight was excellent," said bartender Gary McMahon.

The Brooklyn barkeep wasn't the only one won over by last night's speech.

"I'm very liberal and part of the Green Party, and there were certain things I didn't agree with, but I'm shocked to say that I agreed with most of his speech," said Heather Morrow of Denver.

Bouch Khribech, a waiter at Billy Goat's Tavern and Grill in downtown Chicago, described the same response by his customers.

"Forty people were in here watching the speech, and, as soon as it was over, nearly all of them left. Everyone thought the speech was great," he said in a telephone interview.

"I loved the speech," Mr Khribech said. "The president tried to share the suffering of the American people, and he gave people who are worried about the future a feeling of comfort and peace."

The ultimatum Mr. Bush gave Afghanistan's ruling Taliban "they will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate" was a special favorite of the Chicago crowd, Mr. Khribech said.

Checks with Americans reached at bars and eateries, veterans' posts and beauty salons around the nation after Mr. Bush's prime-time address to Congress found overwhelming support for the president.

"I was very proud and supportive of what he said," said Phil Ovitt, a customer at the Landing, a bar in Minot, N.D.

He said he was particularly impressed with Mr. Bush's ultimatum, his recognition of the need for "countries around the world" to join in the search for terrorists, and his call for Americans not to show prejudice against all Muslims because of the acts of a few extremists.

But Jennifer Gerard, a waitress and bartender at the Landing, said, "There were feelings of trepidation and introspection" during the president's address, given that the bar is near the Minot Air Force Base, and some from that base are being deployed in the war on terrorism.

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1 in Denver, a crowd of about 100 interrupted a birthday party to watch the speech. Every few minutes, the group burst into applause.

"I really liked it. He's going about it the right way, and it's something that needs to be done," said Vietnam veteran Brian Hegna.

"He showed the strength and confidence we need to see," said Laurie Rowley, president of the ladies' auxiliary and a Bush supporter. "I've really liked the maturity I've seen in him over the last week. He's not afraid to show his human side."

The bartender at the VFW post in Amherst, Mass., said he and fellow veterans at the post considered it a "great speech."

"The strongest comments were when the president said we're all in this together, that all free countries of the world must join the fight against terrorism," said the bartender, who declined to give his name.

Mike Rosen, a conservative radio talk-show host for KGO-AM radio in Denver, called the speech the president's "finest moment."

"He was confident, genuine, sincere and much smoother than he usually delivers a speech," said Mr. Rosen.

In San Francisco, Anh-Minh Le said she had not expected much from Mr. Bush's speech.

"I've seen him speak in the past and had low expectations, but I thought it was an excellent speech," she said. "I was in awe."

"I hate to admit it, but I thought that overall he set a good tone," said Daniel Mandel of San Francisco, who supported Al Gore for president.

"I didn't think he was any more articulate, but I did think he was able to capture the right tone and communicate effectively. I like the idea that, 'Let's do this slow and let's do it right.'"

Many of those who watched said they were pleased to see that Mr. Bush differentiated between terrorists and people of Muslim faith.

"I like that he stressed again, as he has before, that this is not a war on Islam and this is not how most Muslims in the world feel," said Mr. Mandel.

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