Second-Term Blues

Second-Term Blues: How George W. Bush Has Governed

JOHN C. FORTIER
NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 146
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt1280tx
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  • Book Info
    Second-Term Blues
    Book Description:

    American presidents typically spend much of their first term trying to ensure a second term. Yet those "four more years!" are usually disappointing, replete with scandal, squabbling, plummeting approval, and few accomplishments. Thus far, George W. Bush's second term has largely followed that unfortunate pattern. In Second-Term Blues, John Fortier and Norman Ornstein lead a stellar cast of political analysts illuminating the priorities, governing tendencies, and leadership style of a president trying to steady his ship in rocky seas. While the media obsess over who will be elected, they rarely ask how a candidate would govern if elected. For example, how would the president approach other political institutions? Would foreign policy stress caution and coordination, or will the U.S. "go it alone"? What would be the tone of public persona and rhetoric? This is the first in-depth analysis of Bush's second go-round from that perspective. The contributors include some of the shrewdest and best known observers of U.S. politics. David Sanger (New York Times) reveals how Bush's foreign policy, particularly on Iraq, defines and restricts his presidency. Dan Balz (Washington Post) dissects America's changing political mood and considers how the president's personal style fits into that milieu. Charles O. Jones, former president of the American Political Science Association, defines Bush's executive style: "Seemingly, where narrow-margin politics appears to call for sensitive mastery of Congress, President Bush employs an unrelenting executive style, among the most intense ever." In addition, Carla Robbins of the New York Times and Fred Greenstein of Princeton University make insightful contributions. This important book considers how all of this helps explain what we've seen coming out of Washington since 2001 and what it may portend for the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2883-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    John Fortier
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    John C. Fortier and Norman J. Ornstein

    Second terms have not been good to American presidents. They often are characterized by hubris, burnout, a paucity of new or bold ideas and are plagued by scandal, party infighting, lack of legislative success, and loss of seats in the midterm election.

    The Twenty-second Amendment ensures that a reelected president becomes a lame duck, contributing to the diminution of the office in the view of other Washington institutions. But even presidents in office before adoption of the Twenty-second Amendment found that their second terms did not measure up to their first.

    George W. Bush has not broken the mold or...

  5. 2 Bush’s Ambitious Second-Term Agenda Hits Reality
    (pp. 17-38)
    Dan Balz

    President Bush began his second term with grand ambitions and great expectations. Abroad he set his sights on continuing a transformation of American foreign policy and, by design, the world, through his campaign against terrorism and his vision of spreading democracy to Iraq and the greater Middle East. He established the tone in his inaugural address, setting out a generations-long goal of ending tyranny in the world. At home he hoped to continue his makeover of the political landscape and to further his goal of cementing in place durable Republican majorities in Congress and the state houses. He placed the...

  6. 3 George W. Bush: The Man and His Leadership
    (pp. 39-70)
    Fred I. Greenstein

    George W. Bush entered the White House with only modest experience in public affairs and took a minimalist approach to his responsibilities before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. He then began to preside with authority and assertiveness over an administration that went to great lengths to put its stamp on the national and international policy agendas but has been intensely controversial in its policies and actions. In what follows, I seek to provide a three-dimensional account of Bush the man and political leader, reviewing his early years, political rise, and presidential performance. I then analyze...

  7. 4 Bush Foreign Policy: First-Term Choices, Second-Term Consequences
    (pp. 71-88)
    David E. Sanger

    First presidential terms are all about open vistas—new programs to launch, new ideas, a new face to project around the globe.

    Second terms are usually treacherous. Presidents find themselves living with the consequences of choices already made. And now, halfway into George W. Bush’s second term, the central paradox of his presidency is that he has asserted greater presidential powers than at any time in history, took what he called a “thumping” in the midterm elections, and now finds his options more limited than ever.

    The reason, in large part, is Iraq. Partisans and historians alike will argue for...

  8. 5 Bush Foreign Policy: Grand Vision and Its Application
    (pp. 89-108)
    Carla Anne Robbins

    Even for a president known for his idealism—or hubris to his critics—the ambition of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address was breathtaking. In a twenty-one-minute speech that used the word freedom more than two dozen times, Bush declared that the spread of liberty and opposition to dictatorships was “the calling of our time,” and he committed his presidency to the support of democratic movements and reformers “in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

    The breadth of that commitment stirred even the usually jaded Washington press corps. TheWashington Postdescribed...

  9. 6 Governing Executively: Bush’s Paradoxical Style
    (pp. 109-130)
    Charles O. Jones

    The presidency of George W. Bush is fascinatingly paradoxical. It features many firsts, mosts, and leasts, thus making it difficult to compare or analogize to other presidencies. Prominent among these distinctions is this paradox: the president with the least political standing of those elected in modern history is among the most boldly aggressive policy advocates. Seemingly where narrow-margin politics appears to call for sensitive mastery of Congress, Bush employs an unrelenting executive style, among the most intense ever. He governs executively, often ignoring what are judged by observers to be his limitations. Additionally, he has been beset with unanticipated crises...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 131-132)
  11. Index
    (pp. 133-146)