The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals

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

We would not have expected Bush, as a "let's deal" president, to spend a great deal of energy setting up a White House organized to provide him with countervailing voices or a cabinet system that attempted to scan the radar screen for departmental policies on a possible collision course with one another six or twelve months in the future. But Bush, strangely for a Washington insider, seemed not to take the rudimentary precautions necessary to avoid the three dysfunctions of an interventionist White House listed above.

To begin, Bush risked becoming captive of a strong personality by appointing John Sununu chief of staff without taking on board one or two equally strong individuals. This analysis might be jumping the gun, but it now counts three disastrous strong chiefs of staff -- Haldeman, Regan, and Sununu. When will presidents learn?

Second, the Bush administration started out wanting to give lower profile to congressional relations, communication, and political affairs. The further we get into the first term, the more the White House finds it must micromanage these sectors. Nevertheless, it has done virtually nothing organizationally to shift gears. This greatly exacerbates Sununu's position as he deals simultaneously with serious overload and a sizable backlash to his authority.

Finally, Bush's hyperkineticism, along with his bloated support in public opinion polls, prevented the administration from making hard decisions in a timely way. Thus we have the Panama invasion to compensate for inaction in the face of the Noriega coup attempt and the immense expenditure of military power and contortion of foreign policy priorities to compensate for the failure to anticipate and prevent the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. On the domestic side, we have the damaging retreat from the no-new-taxes pledge and an increasing number of embarrassing intra-administration squabbles brought on by the White House second-guessing departmental and inter-agency agreements.


Notes
1.
Peter Hennessy, Cabinet ( Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986).
2.
John Hart, The Presidential Branch ( New York: Pergamon, 1987).
3.
President's Special Review Board (Tower Commission), Report ( New York: Bantam Books, 1987), 79-80.
4.
Larry Berman, The Office of Management and Budget and the Presidency, 1921-79 ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 10-15; and Hart, Presidential Branch, 24-36.
5.
Richard E. Ncustadt, Presidential Power. The Politics of Leadership ( New York: Wiley, 1960), 51-52.

-217-

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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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