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Taking the Measure

The Presidency of George W. Bush

Donald R. Kelley

Publication Year: 2013

Some of today’s most prominent experts on the American presidency offer their perspectives, commentary, and analyses in this volume of studies, commissioned by the Fulbright Institute of International Relations and the Blair Center of Southern Politics and Culture, both at the University of Arkansas.

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

Series: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-5


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pp. v-vi

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Chapter 1. Studying the “W”: Either You Loved Him ....

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pp. 1-4

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; ...

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Chapter 2. Between Expectations and Realities: The Presidential Contribution

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pp. 5-20

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. ...

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Chapter 3. Mass Polarization during the Bush Presidency

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pp. 21-35

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 polarizing figures in recent US history. Considerable ink has been spilled—by both academics and political journalists— ...

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Chapter 4. The Unitary Executive Theory and the Bush Legacy

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pp. 36-54

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, ...

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Chapter 5. The Leadership Difference between Steadfast and Stubborn: How Bush’s Psyche Drove Failure in Iraq

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pp. 55-70

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. ...

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Chapter 6. George W. Bush the Decision Maker: Take Two

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pp. 71-93

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. ...

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Chapter 7: The Economic Legacy of George W. Bush

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pp. 94-118

The tenure of Pres. George W. Bush was dominated by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the resulting wars against Afghanistan 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. ...

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Chapter 8. Wading in the Water: George W. Bush’s Civil Rights Agenda

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pp. 119-135

How presidents lead, cope with the media, address federal-state relationships, establish boundaries, and define their policy agendas contribute to their ability or inability to address the demands imposed by disaster. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina raised many concerns about executive management of disasters ...

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Chapter 9. The Bush Presidency and Immigration Reform

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pp. 136-149

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. ...

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Chapter 10. Conclusion: Power and Political Capital in the George W. Bush Presidency

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pp. 150-161

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. ...

Editors and Contributors

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pp. 162-164


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pp. 165-173

Other Books in the Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership

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pp. 183-186

E-ISBN-13: 9781623490997
E-ISBN-10: 1623490995
Print-ISBN-13: 9781623490195

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership