The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals

By Bert A. Rockman; Colin Campbell | Go to book overview

2
Meeting Low Expectations: Strategy
and Prospects of the Bush
Presidency

CHARLES O. JONES

It's easy to underestimate George Bush because he's so damn genteel and nice. -- Thomas Ashley

Bush is a genuine conservative, an American Tory. There are known characteristics of that breed: they care about the society and the government that is handed to them; they want to make small adjustments, they want to keep the boat afloat. Bush is a professional in public service., which means that he has respect for other professionals. -- Nelson W. Polsby

In a postelection article entitled "Low Expectations", Burt Solomon of the National Journal explained that Bush entered the White House "with no obvious mandate and with a residue of bad feeling left from the unsavory campaign." Therefore, Solomon reasoned, "there's little expectation that Bush's first Ioo days as President will rival Reagan's or Franklin D. Roosevelt's in 1933. Nor should they." 1 Solomon quotes Richard E. Neustadt as saying that he would not be surprised if Bush "tried to lower expectations."

This kind of analysis was typical in the aftermath of the 1988 election. No one concluded that Bush's forty-state win carried with it a mandate for specific action on the nation's agenda. George Bush had not spoken to the issues in the campaign, and the Democrats had retained virtually their same healthy margins in the House and Senate. It was not an inspiring election for those who believe in party government and who test the political system by its principles.

By the end of its first year, the lowered expectations of the administration had the approval of a near-record number of Americans. George Bush's

-37-

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The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - The Leadership Style of George Bush 1
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Meeting Low Expectations: Strategy and Prospects of the Bush Presidency 37
  • Notes 65
  • 3 - Domestic Policy: Divided Government and Cooperative Presidential Leadership 69
  • Notes 89
  • 4 - Bush and the Post-Cold-War World: New Challenges for American Leadership 93
  • Notes 124
  • 5 - George Bush and the Public Presidency: the Politics of Inclusion 129
  • Notes 151
  • 6 - Governing Unheroically (and Sometimes Unappetizingly): Bush and the 101st Congress 155
  • Notes 183
  • 7 - The White House and Presidency Under the "Let's Deal" President 185
  • Notes 217
  • 8 - The President and the Executive Branch 223
  • Notes 244
  • 9 - Good Government and the Politics of High Exposure 249
  • Notes 283
  • 10 - Conclusion 287
  • Notes 295
  • Index 297
  • About the Authors 307
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