The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda

The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda

Edward Ashbee
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
    Book Description:

    The Bush Administration, sex and the moral agenda considers White House policy towards issues such as abortion, sex education, obscenity and same-sex marriage. The book suggests that although accounts have often emphasised the ties between George W. Bush and the Christian right, the administration's strategy was, at least until early 2005, also directed towards the courting of middle ground opinion. This study offers a detailed and comprehensive survey of policy-making; assesses the political significance of moral concerns; evaluates the role of the Christian right, and throws new light on George W. Bush's years in office and the character of his thinking. The book will prove invaluable for those taking social science courses as well as as well as anyone with a general interest in the Bush presidency.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-203-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Tables
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Edward Ashbee
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction: the Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
    (pp. 1-12)

    Despite the passions of those who admire him, few US presidents seem to have attracted so much critical comment as George W. Bush. The opprobrium has been particularly pronounced outside the US. In Britain, theDaily Mirrorasked in a headline published the day after Bush’s November 2004 re-election victory: ‘How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?’

    The president’s ratings are significantly better in the US, but his period of office has still provoked intense opposition. In November 2005, 35 per cent of those asked in a poll said that they had ‘very negative’ feelings about Bush.¹ Writing inThe...

  7. 1 The rise of the moral agenda and American public opinion
    (pp. 13-46)

    Moral and cultural concerns became frontline political issues from the late 1960s onwards.¹ In the years that followed President Richard Nixon’s inauguration in January 1969, tensions around questions such as abortion, single parenthood, the role of women and the legitimacy of same-sex relations played an increasingly important and visible role in debates about public policy, the shaping of party loyalties, the appointment of judges and the electoral process.

    The roots of this lay in the ‘sexual revolution’ and the loosening of established moral codes, particularly among the ‘Woodstock generation’ that came of age at the end of the 1960s. The...

  8. 2 The politics of ‘W-ism’
    (pp. 47-73)

    Although he made a Congressional bid in 1978, undertook some campaign appearances during the 1980 presidential election, and took on organising and liaison work on behalf of his father in 1988, George W. Bush only attracted serious political attention once George H. W. Bush had left the White House. Indeed, Kevin Phillips, author of the celebrated 1969 book,The Emerging Republican Majority, suggests that even in 1988, George W. Bush’s role was largely invisible to informed commentators as well as the wider public.¹ It took his defeat of a well-known Democratic incumbent in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial elections to establish...

  9. 3 Gay rights, same-sex marriage and AIDS
    (pp. 74-101)

    As the 2000 presidential election approached, George W. Bush’s gubernatorial record in Texas gave rise to mixed feelings among gay and lesbian campaigners. It seemed to have a contradictory character. At times, Bush and some of the other Republican governors appeared to be differentiating themselves from the Christian right by downplaying moral concerns and condemning the politics of ‘divisiveness’ (see pages 63–4). In April 1999, Bush refused to join those Senate Republicans, most notably John Ashcroft, who opposed the nomination of James Hormel, who was openly gay, to be ambassador to Luxembourg.¹ Instead, he stressed that all appointments should...

  10. 4 ‘Pet your dog …’: sex education, abstinence and contraception
    (pp. 102-136)

    The development and growth of sex education programmes was tied to the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s and 1970s. The Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), the principal nationwide advocacy organisation and a major curriculum provider, was established in 1964. As Janice Irvine records:

    school sex education expanded through the sixties. Emboldened by the times … many communities initiated programs or amplified those already being implemented. Educators were bolstered by a series of resolutions in support of sex education from professional organizations like the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, and the American Association of...

  11. 5 Obscenity and indecency
    (pp. 137-175)

    The nomination of former Missouri governor and Senator, John Ashcroft, as Attorney-General on 22 December 2000 led to celebrations among the groups associated with the Christian right. There were few doubts about Ashcroft’s faith or his politics. Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, backed his confirmation in forthright terms:

    John Ashcroft is a man of high integrity and respect for the rule of law … I join today with the representatives of millions of women who believe that John Ashcroft will be an excellent and honorable Attorney General. He has our support and our prayers as he...

  12. 6 ‘Healthy marriage’ and the family
    (pp. 176-192)

    Although there were frequent references to the importance of marriage during the Bush years, these were almost always within the context of the same-sex marriage debate. Gay and lesbian marriage, it was said, threatened the integrity and survival of marriage as an institution. Affirmations of the importance of marriage were therefore, more often than not, coded calls for the prohibition of same-sex unions. There were, however, two exceptions. Firstly, there were efforts to address and eliminate the ‘marriage tax penalty’. Secondly, the Bush administration established the Healthy Marriage Initiative and sought Congressional funding for programmes that would promote and strengthen...

  13. 7 Abortion and the ‘culture of life’
    (pp. 193-232)

    Of all the issues associated with cultural and sexual politics, abortion has created the most bitter and enduring divisions. The fate of the unborn is the battlefield where depictions of an American ‘culture war’ seem to have the greatest credence and legitimacy. Only military metaphors appear to capture the sense of unyielding dedication that has characterised both the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ campaigns and the degree of polarization between the two sides. All too often, they resemble contending armies tied down in unending trench warfare in which small strips of ‘no man’s land’ are taken, lost and then retaken.

    The abortion...

  14. 8 Conclusion: the politics of morality, the 2004 presidential election and the Bush legacy
    (pp. 233-248)

    The Bush approach to moral politics reaped electoral rewards. In 2000, his distance from the strictures of the Christian right contributed to the winning over of undecided voters and independents, a significant proportion of whom had backed President Bill Clinton or Ross Perot, the Reform Party candidate, in 1996. At the same time, Bush’s emphasis on broad moral principles helped in rallying Republican supporters who had abandoned Senator Bob Dole four years earlier.

    As Chapter 1 argued, moral concerns acquired growing importance during the latter half of the 1990s and, although the availability of survey data is patchy, the upward...

  15. Index
    (pp. 249-254)