Assessing the George W. Bush Presidency

Assessing the George W. Bush Presidency: A Tale of Two Terms

Andrew Wroe
Jon Herbert
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r29d8
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  • Book Info
    Assessing the George W. Bush Presidency
    Book Description:

    In one of the first volumes assessing the full two terms of the George W. Bush presidency, Wroe and Herbert have gathered the work of leading American and European scholars. In fifteen succinct and incisive chapters, authorities such as Jim Pfiffner, John Maltese, Graham Wilson and Alan Gitelson offer assessments of the Bush administration's successes and failures. Extensive attention is paid to Bush's foreign policy, including 'The War on Terror' but the focus is broadened to absorb not only the Bush Doctrine and its repercussions, but also his trade and homeland security policies. The president's domestic leadership in economics and social policy is investigated, as are his dealings as president with the other institutions of the U.S. political system. The result is a comprehensive guide to the Bush presidency and its legacy.Key Features*Chapters by leading authorities from both sides of the Atlantic*One of the first volumes to take into account the full span of the Bush presidency*Broad-ranging coverage of both domestic and foreign policy*Short, direct chapters providing incisive analysis of the administration's successes and failures

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3149-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. NOTES ON THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION: A TALE OF TWO TERMS
    (pp. 1-10)
    Andrew Wroe and Jon Herbert

    George W. Bush left office on 20 January 2009. Many, perhaps most, observers thought the country and world inherited by Barack Obama were considerably less safe and prosperous than those Bush had inherited eight years earlier. While most presidents, even two-term ones, leave office with their reputations damaged, they rarely achieve the level of opprobrium that clung to President Bush. Americans, in a multitude of different polls, consistently rated him as one of the country’s worst post-war presidents – and not without reason.

    Bush started, and failed to end, wars and civil wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, at great human, financial...

  5. Part I: Institutions and Structures
    • Chapter 2 GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE US CONGRESS
      (pp. 13-28)
      Robert Singh

      During the 2000 presidential election campaign, George W. Bush had promised to seek an end to the vicious partisanship of the Clinton years and, if elected, be a “uniter, not a divider”. His record as governor of Texas (1995–2001) had indeed seen considerable bipartisan co-operation with the state legislature and Bush had proven a popular chief executive. Gaining the presidency after losing the popular vote to Al Gore, through a controversial US Supreme Court intervention (Bush v. Gore, 2000), and with a bare majority of Republicans in Congress, Bush was widely expected to deliver on his promise and reach...

    • Chapter 3 GEORGE W. BUSH AS CHIEF EXECUTIVE
      (pp. 29-43)
      James P. Pfiffner

      Those who observed President Bush in office were struck by his self assurance, his confidence in his “gut” judgement, his lack of self-doubt, his impatience with lengthy policy debate, and his willingness to delegate large swaths of public policy to Vice President Dick Cheney. These characteristics can lead to certainty in decision-making, but they may also prematurely constrain the range of options considered in addressing far-reaching decisions of state. While President Bush was able to make important policy decisions with confidence and dispatch, his approach to the use of executive power had some drawbacks. Important decisions, particularly in his first...

    • Chapter 4 GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE US SUPREME COURT
      (pp. 44-58)
      Emma Long

      Few of a president’s powers offer such opportunity and danger as an appointment to the Supreme Court. A good choice offers a president the chance to influence public policy long after he leaves office; a poor choice can undermine his legacy. Conservatives expected George Bush to nominate candidates sympathetic to their policy preferences, liberals feared the same, and both sides were ready for a battle after eleven years without change on the Court. But when his opportunity finally came early in his second term, Bush faced additional difficulties in achieving a successful appointment, stemming from growing public and political opposition...

    • Chapter 5 FEDERALISM IN THE BUSH ERA
      (pp. 59-74)
      M. J. C. Vile

      Federalism is a technique for giving the necessary unity to member states to meet common problems, while making possible divergent policies on those issues where there is no national consensus. Of course, over time, changing circumstances require new solutions to policy problems, and a new consensus about the distribution of government functions between federal and state governments emerges. The formal division of powers set out in the Constitution has remained essentially unchanged since 1789, but judicial interpretation of these powers and the development of conventions relating to the exercise of presidential power have transformed the relationship between the federal government...

  6. Part II: Foreign Policy Leadership
    • Chapter 6 TO USHER IN A NEW PARADIGM? PRESIDENT BUSH’S FOREIGN POLICY LEGACY
      (pp. 77-99)
      Jason Ralph

      Writing about legacies is somewhat speculative. It is an exercise in historical investigation, as we need to know what the subject actually did, but it is also an exercise in forecasting, because we need to say something about the significance of those actions in and for the future. A perception of what President Bush has bequeathed his successors, for instance, depends on how far one looks into the future. A long-term perspective is needed if one is to claim that his policies are of lasting significance, but the further one looks into the future the less certain one can be...

    • Chapter 7 REFORMING THE NATIONAL SECURITY APPARATUS
      (pp. 100-114)
      Steven Hurst

      Before 11 September 2001 the United States’s homeland defence policy focused on threats from state, rather than from non-state, actors. With little history of domestic terrorism and few attacks from terrorists originating abroad, however, limited attention was paid to these potential dangers. In December 2000, the Gilmore Commission reported that “the organization of the Federal Government’s programs for combating terrorism is fragmented, uncoordinated, and politically unaccountable” (Advisory Panel 2000: v). Despite that warning, the administration of George W. Bush paid little attention to the terrorist threat before 11 September. Since that date, in contrast, the Bush administration engaged in the...

    • Chapter 8 BUSH AND EUROPE
      (pp. 115-128)
      David Patrick Houghton

      It is hard to generalise about United States–European relations, not least because Europe is a collective of many disparate, strong, individual nations. Nevertheless, because this chapter requires a good deal of generalisation about the relationship between the Bush administration and Europe during the former’s two terms in office, a good place to start is with a book which was often taken as emblematic of contemporary neo-conservative thinking about transatlantic relations. In his slim but fascinating 2003 volume, Of Paradise and Power, Robert Kagan claims that a permanent rift has developed between the United States and Europe, based on gaping...

    • Chapter 9 INTERNATIONAL TRADE POLICY UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH
      (pp. 129-146)
      Nitsan Chorev

      Trade policies, particularly laws and regulations that affect the price of imports entering the country, have always been bitterly contested in the United States. On the one hand, local manufacturers who cannot compete internationally strongly oppose imports which would reduce their share of the domestic market, as do workers who are employed by those manufacturers. On the other hand, American manufacturers who can compete internationally welcome easier access to foreign markets and strongly advocate the reduction of trade barriers in the United States as a way to induce trade liberalisation in other countries. Recently, these traditional interests have been joined...

  7. Part III: Domestic Policy Leadership
    • Chapter 10 PRESIDENT BUSH AND THE ECONOMY
      (pp. 149-165)
      Graham Wilson

      President George W. Bush left office with the United States and world economies in catastrophic condition. Millions of Americans lost their homes in mortgage foreclosures, the stock market fell by 40 per cent, unemployment rose rapidly and a full-scale recession threatened. In the largest extension of government ownership of business in American history, financial institutions, such as the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the insurance giant AIG and nine major banks passed into total or majority government control. Even before the 2008 crash, many middle- and working-class Americans had seen their real wages stagnate. Most of the benefits...

    • Chapter 11 THE POLITICS OF AGING
      (pp. 166-181)
      Alex Waddan

      As the Bush administration drew to a close, the president seemed marginalised from events. This made it easy to forget just how ambitious President Bush’s White House had been in its earlier years as it sought to redraw the contours of domestic policy. The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reform and the appointment of conservative judges to federal courts all marked significant political victories. Furthermore, the administration had embarked on major legislative efforts to reform the United States’s two biggest public policy programmes, Medicare, which provides health care for the nation’s seniors,...

    • Chapter 12 NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: THE POLITICS AND POLICY OF EDUCATION REFORM
      (pp. 182-198)
      Jonathan Parker

      Following his controversial ascendancy to the presidency, George W. Bush promised to be a “uniter, not a divider” (Kagan 2000). In the field of education he fulfilled this promise by successfully shepherding the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) into law. Despite the highly charged partisanship of that time, he courted and won the support and co-operation of leading Democrats. Even more extraordinarily, President Bush retained the support of his own party in Congress for an education bill that expanded significantly the federal government’s influence and involvement in education at the state and local levels. One veteran news...

    • Chapter 13 THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND THE POLITICS OF SEXUAL MORALITY
      (pp. 199-215)
      Edward Ashbee

      Much has been said about George W. Bush’s associations with the organisations and individuals comprising the Christian right and white evangelical Protestantism.¹ Countless biographical portraits recount his struggles with alcohol in the mid-1980s and the born-again character of his faith. Commentaries on his presidency record the part played by evangelicals in contributing to his re-election and in turn note his support for the Christian right’s political agenda, speaking in forceful terms about building a “culture of life”, using an executive order to prohibit the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research, boosting federal government funding for abstinence-only sex education,...

    • Chapter 14 COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES IN THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE
      (pp. 216-238)
      John Anthony Maltese

      Like most recent presidents, George W. Bush embraced an approach to governing that is sometimes referred to as “the permanent campaign”. Sidney Blumenthal helped to popularise that phrase in a 1982 book of the same name. But it was the Democratic consultant Pat Caddell who is often said to have originated the concept of an ongoing campaign in a December 1976 memo to President-elect Jimmy Carter titled “Initial Working Paper on Political Strategy”. In that memo, Caddell wrote: “Essentially it is my thesis that governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign” (Caddell 1976; see also Klein 2005).

      The...

    • Chapter 15 A LASTING REPUBLICAN MAJORITY? GEORGE W. BUSH’S ELECTORAL STRATEGY
      (pp. 239-257)
      Kevin Fullam and Alan R. Gitelson

      George W. Bush could hardly be accused of failing to have lofty goals. After winning the White House, he set his sights on no less than the Republican realignment of the national electorate and a new era of Republican congressional dominance. By the close of his administration, however, his presidency had failed to engineer this transformation, at least as measured by the success of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. Barack Obama captured the White House while Democrats increased the size of their majorities in both chambers of Congress. This chapter examines the nature of Bush’s...

    • Chapter 16 CONCLUSON: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE W. BUSH
      (pp. 258-276)
      Jon Herbert and Andrew Wroe

      Before Bush was elected, he projected a presidency of extraordinary ambition. He, and the administration he headed, subsequently seemed driven by a desire for the momentous and the dramatic to the degree that it might be considered an administration mentality. Bush hated the “small ball” and his advisers consistently labelled him a “transformative president” (Economist 2009). The ambitious rhetoric was backed by aspirations to institute major policy reforms. In foreign policy, Bush attempted a spectacular redirection of United States priorities and of its methods. In economic policy, he pursued an agenda of substantial tax cuts and extensive deregulation. In social...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 277-294)