Bush's Growth Spurt: George W. Has Found His Presidential Authority and Voice since September 11th

By Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. | The International Economy, November-December 2001 | Go to article overview

Bush's Growth Spurt: George W. Has Found His Presidential Authority and Voice since September 11th


Birnbaum, Jeffrey H., The International Economy


Seven months into the new administration in Washington, D.C., George W. Bush was still an enigma. Everyone wanted to know: Was he a conservative ideologue or the compromiser-in-chief? One minute he was eager to drill in the fragile Alaskan wilderness, the next he was cutting deals with Ted Kennedy to spend more money on education. Europeans didn't like him much and Americans were split. Nobody knew what to make of the United States' new president.

Then tragedy struck. The September 11th attacks gave Bush, indeed his entire Baby Boom generation, its mission and, as Bush told us, its "moment." It is said that great presidents can emerge only at times of great struggle. Well, Bush now faces such a crisis. The question is: Is he up to the task? As this issue went to press, he clearly seemed to be. He was moving methodically, effectively, and, yes, impressively against an intractable foe. He had assembled an expansive coalition of nations willing to help militarily and otherwise to defeat the terrorism of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden. Coordinated police actions throughout the world had rounded up hundreds of suspected terrorists. Millions of dollars in assets tied to the plotters had been frozen. Military strikes were underway and hitting their targets in Afghanistan.

By all accounts, Bush, with his astronomically high job-approval ratings in the polls, had gone from goat to hero in Americans' minds, and in the minds of civilized people around the world. But as any student of management will attest, that's a superficial and probably fleeting assessment. The war won't last forever, at least not at its initial, fevered pitch. So qualities beyond that extraordinary circumstance will be the ultimate measure of the man. This article takes that broader view.

Bush's ability to command under pressure and to stir the American people with his words were two traits not apparent prior to the attacks on New York and Washington. But clearly he possesses both. We also now know that he is willing, actually, eager, to delegate as long as he has competent appointees. And his appointees have turned out to be first rate.

Bush all-but turned over centralized control of the emergency on September 11th to his chief lieutenant, Vice President Dick Cheney. It was Cheney who ordered the evacuation of congressional leaders as well as the hopscotch trek across the country of the President himself aboard Air Force One on that fateful day. In addition, the able team of Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pieced together the international coalition.

Bush has taken this delegation of authority so far that we can now say that for the first time in decades, true Cabinet government has been restored. For years, the White House staff had been preeminent in policy matters, and the cabinet was mostly a mouthpiece. No longer. Cabinet members are true players, not public relations purveyors, in Washington. At the same time, Bush makes the final decisions on strategic matters. He isn't a figurehead CEO.

Bush is also as determined as any president in memory to get what he wants on the domestic front, even when facing war abroad. His behavior on domestic issues, in fact, can shed some insight into his overall presidential style. To wit: Bush swaggers and promises a lot, never expecting to get everything. And in that way he accomplishes more of what he wishes than anyone might have anticipated.

This cowboy demeanor is partly a Texas tendency, one that annoys many Europeans. But it is also a calculated strategy. Bush likes to promise the moon, as he did when he pledged to eradicate global terrorism. But that is mostly an expression of resolve, meant both to inspire and provoke. He will always accept less, when he has to.

There are many examples of this. When Nick Calio, the President's top congressional lobbyist, first visited the then-President-elect in Texas in January, Bush told him, "We're not going to negotiate with ourselves.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bush's Growth Spurt: George W. Has Found His Presidential Authority and Voice since September 11th
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.