Political Leadership for the New Century: Personality and Behavior among American Leaders

By Linda O. Valenty; Ofer Feldman | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

The Political Personality of U.S. President George W. Bush

Aubrey Immelman

INTRODUCTION

The pivotal role of personality in politics has received growing recognition in recent presidential campaigns. Texas Monthly magazine, for example, in the preface to its June 1999 special report on George W. Bush, asserted that

personal details are exactly what people want to know about presidential candidates. Most elections are about issues, but a presidential election is about choosing a leader—and personal characteristics make a leader. That was true even for Ronald Reagan, the most ideological president in modern times. He attracted his political base with his ideas but won his elections by force of personality. (“Who Is George W. Bush?” 1999:105)

This perspective provides the context for the current chapter, which presents an analysis of the personality of U.S. President George W. Bush and examines the political implications of his personality profile with respect to presidential leadership and executive performance.


Background to the Study

In his landmark work, Personality and Politics (1969:2), Greenstein lamented that the study of personality in politics was “not a thriving scholarly endeavor,” principally because “scholars who study politics do not feel equipped to analyze personality in ways that meet their intellectual standards…[rendering it primarily] the preserve of journalists.” Compounding his pessimism, Greenstein noted that the personality-and-politics literature was “formidably gnarled—empirically, methodologically, and conceptually” (1969:2).

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