Taking the Measure
The Presidency of George W. Bush
Publication Year: 2013
With a shared focus on Bush’s decision-making style, the impact of increasing partisanship, economic issues—especially after the 2008 financial meltdown—and, of course, the cumulative impact of 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the contributors link their observations and conclusions to broader political and policy-related questions. They also take the opportunity to compare the Bush presidency with that of his successor, Barack Obama, through the latter administration’s experience of disappointment in the 2010 congressional elections.
The debate over the Bush legacy will not soon end, and this volume does not presume to offer the definitive, final commentary. It does, however, bridge the gap between dispassionate academic commentary written essentially for scholars and the sort of informed and unbiased analysis written for a larger public audience, contributing to the public understanding of our recent national experience. Taking the Measure: The Presidency of George W. Bush contributes significantly to the beginnings of careful, systematic consideration of the George W. Bush presidency.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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Chapter 1. Studying the “W”: Either You Loved Him .... by Donald R. Kelley
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There wasn’t much ambiguity about the way people reacted to George W. Bush, the forty-third president of the United States. Either you loved him or you hated him, at least at first. The sharp dichotomy touched on everything he did: decisions on foreign and domestic policies; the choice of a vice president; his efforts that seemed to unite the country while actually dividing it; his handling of Katrina; his Texas-bred sense of self-assurance and swagger; and his troubled relationship with the English language. Even his most important moment as chief executive—rally-...
Chapter 2. Between Expectations and Realities: The Presidential Contribution by Bert A. Rockman
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The leitmotif of presidential challengers is change. Incumbents, of course, too have to say that they are producing change and that theirs is a work in progress that can only be derailed by those who, in their view, wish to go back to old ways. Even contenders of the incumbent party need to demonstrate product differentiation from their predecessors. George Bush the elder needed to connect to the legacy of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, while also charting his own course, which was Despite all of this rhetorical emphasis on change, the reality is that presidents ...
Chapter 3. Mass Polarization during the Bush Presidency by D. Sunshine Hillygus and Barry C. Burden
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...in the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush promised to be a “uniter, not a divider.” But whatever George W. Bush’s intentions at the outset of his presidency, he is widely recognized as one of the most polar-izing figures in recent US history. Considerable ink has been spilled—by both academics and political journalists—discussing the nature and extent of polarization in public opinion under the Bush presidency. Many have assumed that polarization during the Bush presidency reflected his personality, leader-ship style, or governing strategies. For example, a New York Times editorial ...
Chapter 4. The Unitary Executive Theory and the Bush Legacy by Mark J. Rozell and Mitchel A. Sollenberger
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...a key part of the George W. Bush legacy will be his administration’s attempts to vastly expand the powers of the presidency. Under the “Unitary Executive” theory that espouses the inherent authority of the president to act unilaterally in a number of areas, the president adopted broad-reaching and in some cases unprecedented efforts to expand his powers. We address two critical areas in which President Bush made far-reaching claims of independent presidential powers: executive privilege and appointments of executive branch czars. To establish the framework, we begin ...
Chapter 5. The Leadership Difference between Steadfast and Stubborn: How Bush’s Psyche Drove Failure in Iraq by Robert Maranto
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...in contrast to the “all hat and no cattle” stereotype, there is nothing dumb about George W. Bush. Bush has psychological characteristics, however, that limited his competence as a “decider” (to use his term) and ultimately undermined his record. President Bush had strategic competence: a vision of where he wanted to push government that was compatible with national needs. And after the devastating 9/11 attacks, he certainly had opportunities for regime change at home. He thus could have become, to use the terms of Nelson, a president of achievement. Indeed initial judgments of the Bush ...
Chapter 6. George W. Bush the Decision Maker: Take Two by Alexander Moens
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...a great deal has been written about George W. Bush’s presidential personality and about his decision style, but do we really have a full picture of this president? The younger Bush has been enormously polarizing, evoking disdain from critics but loyalty and admiration from supporters. Any scholar of George W. Bush and his presidency will find that the literature evaluating his time in office is likewise deeply polarized. Critical commentators have employed layers of conspiracy theory and psy-chology to attempt to “uncover” the true Bush and his ills. Perhaps the least ...
Chapter 7: The Economic Legacy of George W. Bush by Raymond Tatalovich
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The tenure of Pres. George W. Bush was dominated by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the resulting wars against Af-ghanistan and Iraq. National security trumped economics in 2002, when the GOP won control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections, and proved to be the key issue in the reelection of Bush in 2004. Had the economy been the key issue in the 2004 campaign, as it had been in 1992, Kerry might well have defeated George W. Bush the way Bill Clinton beat his father. The economy was never a success story for Pres. George W. Bush, and ...
Chapter 8. Wading in the Water: George W. Bush’s Civil Rights Agenda by Pearl K. Ford Dowe
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While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by fail-ing schools, and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, ...
Chapter 9. The Bush Presidency and Immigration Reform by Rafael A. Jimeno
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...in the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election I was in my first year as a high school US government teacher. The Bush campaign continually stressed his status as a “compassionate conservative,” so I attempted to impress upon my students that there would be virtually no differences between a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency. This campaign was quite clearly reflective of the centrist nature of US politics, the epitome, perhaps, of a system designed to appeal to moderates and ignore the fringes. I was wrong.This is not to say that George W. Bush is responsible for the incivility and ...
Chapter 10. Conclusion: Power and Political Capital in the George W. Bush Presidency by Steven E. Schier
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The George W. Bush presidency had big impacts in both its broader regime construction efforts and everyday governing style. At the systemic level, George W. Bush energetically used his formal and informal powers in an attempt to entrench a durable, conservative GOP regime, a stable partisan hegemony that would persist for years to come. His ambitions were blunted through the limits imposed by the partisan polar-ization that his regime construction efforts spawned. As difficulties mounted in his second term, additional limits to Bush’s ambitions appeared. Declining ...
Editors and Contributors
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Other Books in the Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
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The Politics of Shared Power: Congress and the Executive Louis FisherShaping and Signaling Presidential Policy: The National Security Between Law and Politics: The Solicitor General and the Structuring of Race, Gender, and Reproductive Rights Litigation Richard Pacelle Jr.Out of Touch: The Presidency and Public Opinion Michael J. Towle...
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership