"COMPARISONS ARE POSITIVE." Some Bush classmates see such criticism as too harsh, among them Richard Payne, 55, executive vice-president of National City (NCC ) in Cleveland. "What [Bush] has done in Iraq is textbook decision making," Payne believes. The President is looking at unfiltered data from the front lines, "which is what we were taught to do," Payne adds. "He's asking, what does the data say about schools being open, police being trained, and the electricity being on? How does that compare to 30 days earlier, 90 days earlier, and to before Saddam was taken out? The comparisons are positive." All of them, perhaps, except for the numbers that record the rising toll of U.S. dead.