This essay places George W. My thesis is that Bush's political failure during his second term was largely the result of structural tensions created by the attacks of September 11, , that no leader could have overcome.
At different times, President Bush was both the most popular president and one of the least popular presidents in American history, and his administration. George W. Bush was the first child of George Herbert Walker Bush and the former Barbara Pierce. George H. W. Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday.
This argument is an extension of Skowronek's and Whittington's views that the executive branch's relationship to other governing institutions is shaped primarily by the president's relative position in the party system. Bush to pursue radical change.
These actions could not be squared with his need, as the leader of the majority party, to maintain electoral stability. A presidency divided against itself in this way cannot, and did not, stand.
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Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. But here he had done the opposite: trumpeting his true views while seeking the nomination, then abandoning them once in office. Never again would the party boast a major national leader who defended reproductive rights or questioned the merits of supply-side economics. During his own bid for the presidency eight years later, Bush remained under parole from the right.
The ironclad vow not to raise tax rates shored up support from the right, but in a time of skyrocketing deficits, it hamstrung the president after he took office. Eventually, in , Democrats, who controlled the House and Senate, forced Bush to accept some new taxes as part of a massive budget compromise. Then came the Willie Horton ads that hyped the scare-story of an African-American criminal, released on furlough from a Massachusetts prison, who raped a woman and assaulted her husband.
Environmental groups praised Mr. Bush credits his wife for bringing his life in order. Walsh , assailed the pardons. There were none. As historians some of you make very good neo-cons.
Never mind that Reagan, as governor of California, had signed a similar furlough bill. And a senator from Connecticut stood up to him named Prescott Bush. Your father was right to stand up to Joe McCarthy. You were wrong to attack my patriotism.
In between, Bush continued to put politics ahead of the national good in many of his appointments. Most notably, in , when Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, announced his retirement, Bush could have honored his legacy by naming a respected African-American judge or legal scholar such as Amalya Kearse or Leon Higginbotham. But he selected a staunch conservative in Clarence Thomas—served up with the implausible assertion that he was the most qualified person for the job. Given that Bush had appointed David Souter to the court, expecting him to name a more moderate black justice is hardly unreasonable.
In foreign policy, Bush has generally been given higher marks, and in some cases fairly so—particularly for his management of European relations at the start of the post-Cold War era. But he also made terrible mistakes, which were likewise rooted in cynicism. By , in violation of the cease-fire agreement, Saddam was refusing to let international weapons inspectors carry out their job, making it impossible to know if he would resume a nuclear weapons program.
One need not support George W. He declined to provide more than humanitarian aid, and tens of thousands of both groups were slaughtered or dispossessed. Needless to say, the above litany will inevitably come across to some as one-sided.