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George W. Bush

Evaluating the President at Midterm

Bryan Hilliard, Tom Lansford, Robert P. Watson

Publication Year: 2004

Bringing together presidential scholars, leading voices on the presidency, and former White House aides, this book provides a timely and thorough assessment of George W. Bush at the historic midpoint of his presidency. The book covers Bush’s character and leadership style, domestic policy, foreign policy and the War on Terror, and the Bush administration. It concludes with a report card on the Bush presidency, whereby the President, his staff, and his legislative record are graded.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Evaluating presidents is a compelling and an important exercise. Whether it occurs on political talk shows, among colleagues standing around the office water cooler, by the political cartoonist’s pen, or through the act of voting, evaluation is something we all do on a regular basis. The process of rating and evaluating presidents by presidential pollsters or scholars has far-reaching consequences. Presidents and members of Congress watch the presidential approval...

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pp. 1-16

Why evaluate the president? It is an endeavor performed at some level and to some degree by countless Americans and individuals around the world. The nightly newscasts, editorial pages, and talk radio shows certainly engage in their share of analysis, coinciding in the modern era with the emergence of the president as the focal point of the American political system and symbol of the...

Part 1: Leadership and Character

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1. The Arbiter of Fate The Presidential Character of George W. Bush

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pp. 19-28

Character counts when a nation chooses its president, and George W. Bush raised character to the level of a campaign issue in 2000. Scholars and partisans agree that character is vitally important; however, they use the word to mean different things.The Greeks coined the word “charakter,” meaning “to engrave.” Today it refers to moral strength and discipline, an individual’s distinctive traits,...

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2. Compassionate Conservatism Meets Communitarianism

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pp. 29-38

George W. Bush captured the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2000, then the presidency itself with the defeat of Al Gore, a “New Democrat,” by campaigning as a “different kind of Republican.”1 Bush identified himself as a compassionate conservative, one who was opposed to the liberalism of the...

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3. The Embryonic Stem Cell Debate and the Battle between Politics and Ethics

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pp. 39-51

On August 9, 2001, less than seven months after taking office, President George W. Bush gave a nationally televised speech in which he set forth the administration’s policy regarding federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. In broad outline, the policy allows, within certain ethical guidelines, federal funds to be used for research on existing stem cell lines but no federal money to be used to support the destruction of embryos or for research on stem...

Part 2: Domestic Policy

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4. An Early Assessment of President George W. Bush and the Environment

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pp. 55-67

Throughout the twentieth century, the environment has been an issue in presidential campaigns and administrations. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a national conservation policy was first established by Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency was characterized as the “age of conservation.” During the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson spoke about...

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5. Vigor and Vacillation: An Early Assessment of Bush’s Economic Policy

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pp. 69-83

Upon ascending to the presidency in January 2001, George W. Bush put domestic and international economic issues at the center of his legislative proposals, actively seeking to distance himself from his predecessor by endorsing moderately conservative economic reform, including: a $1.6 trillion income tax cut; a partial privatization of Social Security; delinking labor and environmental...

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6. Ironing Out Reelection: George W. Bush and the Politics of Steel

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pp. 85-104

In March 2002, President George W. Bush imposed tariffs ranging from 8 percent to 30 percent on steel imports for three years. The decision, which came on the heels of a closely contested recommendation by the six-member United States International Trade Commission (ITC), had been the subject of intense debate. The steel industry, organized labor, and members of Congress...

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7. The Politics behind Bush’s No Child Left Behind Initiative: Ideas, Elections, and Top-Down Education Reform

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pp. 105-119

On January 8, 2002, after nearly a year of negotiations in Congress, President George W. Bush signed into law the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” a six-year reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), first passed in 1965. The act won high praise. No less than David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, wrote that the law “may well be the most...

Part 3: Foreign Policy and the War on Terror

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8. The Bush Doctrine: Redefining the U.S. Role in World Politics for the Twenty-first Century?

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pp. 123-138

Many observers find the recently formulated Bush Doctrine a provocative, shocking, and perhaps ill-conceived reaction to a unique set of circumstances facing a relatively inexperienced president. However, when placed in historical context, the Bush Doctrine presents only minor adjustments to the long-standing foreign policy traditions of the United States. This point can be argued...

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9. A United Front? The Bush Administration, Coalition Diplomacy, and the Military Campaign in Afghanistan

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pp. 139-153

During Operation Enduring Freedom, the military campaign in Afghanistan, the United States sought a global coalition of potential military partners and engaged in an intensive diplomatic effort to develop a broad-based and multilateral alliance. The strategy of the administration of George W. Bush echoed the actions of the first Bush administration during the Persian Gulf War. By the start of the military campaign, the United States had broad international...

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10. The Bush Military Tribunal: Relying on the Nazi Saboteur Case

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pp. 155-171

On November 13, 2001, President George W. Bush authorized the creation of a military tribunal to try those who assisted in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He relied extensively on a military tribunal established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, after the capture of eight German saboteurs. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld...

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11. The War on Terrorism and Homeland Security: Presidential and Congressional Challenges

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pp. 173-187

Just a week after the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush used an executive order—the only tool available for swift action—to create a new Office of Homeland Security (OHS). Massive governmental reorganization not only would have required congressional assent but also might have detracted from White House efforts to coordinate federal antiterrorism...

Part 4: The Bush Administration

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12. The Bush White House: Comparisons with Previous White Houses

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pp. 191-206

The focus of this chapter is the personal staff of the president, what the author calls the “White House staff community,” which includes not only the policy elements advising the president, the vice president, and the first lady, together with their detailees, volunteers, and interns, but also the staff of the NSC. Included too are the professional support units that immediately serve the president,...

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13. Vice President Dick Cheney: Trendsetter or Just Your Typical Veep?

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pp. 207-220

George W. Bush, in his pursuit of the presidency, had always wanted Dick Cheney to be his running mate. Unfortunately for Bush, Cheney was not interested at first—but he did take on the task of leading the search for a vice-presidential running mate. Little did Cheney know that by directing the search it would lead right back to him: eventually he acceded to Bush’s requests to be the vice-presidential nominee...

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14. “Comforter in Chief ”: The Transformation of First Lady Laura Bush

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pp. 221-238

On August 22, 2002, Laura Bush, wife of the forty-third president of the United States, addressed a crowd of teachers, students, and parents in Leander, Texas, to dedicate a new school named in her honor: the Laura Welch Bush Elementary School. The first lady’s comments were brief but poignant: “This school bears the name of a person who absolutely loves schools and all...

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pp. 239-262

The first two years of George W. Bush’s presidency included its share of high points and low points, a few notable successes among an otherwise mediocre record of legislative achievement, and the grave challenges of terrorist attacks, the subsequent United States’-led War on Terror, and a sluggish economy. At midterm, the report card on the Bush presidency is mixed. Indeed, one’s...


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pp. 263-278

About the Contributors

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pp. 279-281


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pp. 283-287

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484845
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461334
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461335

Page Count: 298
Illustrations: 31 tables, 2 figures
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009.
  • Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946-.
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