The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals

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

7
The White House and Presidency
under the "Let's Deal"
President

COLIN CAMPBELL, S.J.

When Americans go to the polls, they do not elect the president and his White House staff. Neither do they vote for a candidate and his cabinet secretaries. In the course of any administration, however, individual White House aides and cabinet secretaries become household names. Certainly, George Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, has gained notoriety around the kitchen tables of a good many American homes. By virtue of his critical position as secretary of state, James A. Baker III probably has gained fame in more American households than has John Sununu.

Fewer people would know that Baker had held Sununu's job during Ronald Reagan's first term. This fact itself says a great deal. Baker achieved unparalleled success as chief of staff. Yet, except among Reagan conservatives who disdained his "pragmatism," Baker's knack for camouflaging his influence sharply limited the dinner conversation in which his name would come up.

Presidents differ in how they organize and use their White House staff and the cabinet. This chapter looks closely at George Bush's presidential style. Along the way, we find that Bush is not an easy person to assess in this regard. Elsewhere in this book, authors have tried to resolve an enigma in Bush's style. On the one hand, he has pursued the job with great energy and apparent enthusiasm; on the other, he seems to lack a game plan. These characteristics have led several authors to style Bush a reactive, active president.

This chapter presses the categorization a bit further. It accepts that Bush displays no grand vision, but it argues that he is strongly motivated by what he perceives to be his ability to walk into a crisis situation and make deals to solve problems. Before launching into this analysis, however, we should first consider some important issues associated with the role of the White House staff and cabinet secretaries in the modern presidency.

-185-

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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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