43rd PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Bush confirms presidential bid


 

Book review

George Bush and the Guardianship Presidency by David Mervin. MacMillan 1996 ISBN 0 333 61354 6 £40.00

David Mervin's assessment of the Bush presidency is important for an understanding of the complexities of American politics in the late twentieth century. It is well structured and offers a wealth of information which students of the subject will find invaluable. It is always harder to offer a coherent analysis of a patently non-ideological administration, particularly one that is sandwiched between the activist, media conscious, two term presidencies of Reagan and Clinton. Mervin is effective in explaining the inner drives and conflicts of the Bush period through an examination not only of the President's complex personality but also of the way in which those complexities imprinted themselves on the policy agenda of his administration. The concept on which the book is based - that Bush was a 'guardian' president in the mould of Eisenhower - is somewhat problematic. Mervin describes such presidents as "reactive leaders" dealing with issues on a "case by case basis". They have no grand designs in the LBJ mould but see governing as a "limited activity", performing as a referee rather than a striker. The difficulty here is that there has been no self-declared 'guardian' in the executive since the days of Silent Cal Coolidge. Eisenhower's qualification for this label is debatable, according to some historians. The modern political system, with its centrifugal power dynamics, weak parties and hyperactive news media, makes it impossible for presidents to shout from the touchlines. The harsh environment of the post- FDR presidency dictates that presidents must be high profile, decisive, focused or at least re-elected, else they be judged failures. This is less a prejudice of academics, as Mervin suggests, than simple acceptance of current realities. This leads us to question Bush's qualification for the title 'guardian'. Mervin's analysis indicates that the president blew hot and cold on this. Would a true 'guardian' make so blunt a statement as "Read my lips, No New Taxes"? Would he promise to be "The Education President", talk of a "New World Order" or declare war on drugs? It seems that Bush only saw himself as reactive and custodial when it suited him politically. In 1988 he was "Ready from day one to be great president." This is not a claim normally ascribed to 'guardians' in the White House. Perhaps he changed his mind. Mervin rightly points out that Bush's concept of behind-the-scenes leadership and bargaining skills were simply not enough for a modern president, though it could be argued that in this area the President and his senior advisors, notably Darman and Sununu, were also inadequate. Ultimately, the book's conclusion seems to be that Bush attempted to be a 'guardian' president and failed because his concepts of and performance in that role were deficient. It should be noted that this might well be because the role of a 'guardian' president is incompatible with the chaotic, decentralised, personality-driven atmosphere of late twentieth century American politics.

Dr. Niall A.Palmer, Brunel University College.
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Notes


THE BUSH TRIBE, OF ESSEX

14 Dec 2000

Residents of a village in a much-maligned English county were today celebrating the news that an Essex boy has become the 43rd US President.
George W Bush is an Essex boy at heart. The first Bush to settle in America came from Messing, a small village near Colchester, in the 17th century.
Reynold Bush, the son of a yeoman farmer, emigrated to America in 1631, building himself a new life in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Historical records show that Bush was a fairly common name in Messing from 1391 to 1597, with 37 references to Bushes in church documents.
The village, population 250, is mentioned in the Domesday Book, according to local historian Roger Carter, but there are no Bushes in Messing these days say local residents. Yet George W Bush's race for the presidency has generated some interest amongst villagers as did his father's election victory in 1989.
A 4ft Stars and Stripes was sent to the vicar of Messing, Rev Dr Chris Garland's church after he wrote to George Bush Senior inviting him to his ancestral home when he became president. And if George W Bush ever ventures to the village he will find coffee mugs on sale in All Saints' Church, priced £2.50, with the motto: "Messing: birthplace of Reynold Bush, ancestor of George Bush, President of the USA".
Whether the church will put in an order for an extra `W' on the mug remains to be seen.


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Relationships to me

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George W. Bush
Biography

Link to Master Database 2000 entry

George W. Bush is the 46th Governor of the State of Texas and the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Now in his second term as Governor, Mr. Bush has earned a reputation as a compassionate conservative who shapes policy based on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, strong families, and local control. On March 14, 2000, Governor Bush earned enough delegates to become the Republican nominee for President.

During three Texas Legislative sessions, Governor Bush has worked in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation with statewide leaders and members of the Texas Legislature to enact historic reforms to improve public schools, put welfare recipients to work, curb frivolous lawsuits and strengthen criminal justice laws. In his five years in office, Gov. Bush has delivered the two largest tax cuts in state history, totaling nearly $3 billion, to Texas taxpayers.

Governor Bush’s first priority is the education of our children. He has worked with the Legislature to increase the state’s share of funding for schools, to restore local control, to strengthen the state’s accountability system, to give parents and students greater choice of schools, and to foster competition and creativity through charter schools and an expanded menu of educational opportunity. His most profound goal for Texas is that every child will learn to read by third grade and will continue to read at grade level or better throughout public school.

As President, Governor Bush will pursue the same common sense agenda in the same bipartisan way that he has in Texas. Governor Bush has proposed bold initiatives to ensure that America’s prosperity has a purpose. He has proposed plans for improving our nation’s public schools by strengthening local control and insisting on accountability; reducing taxes on all taxpayers, especially those on the outskirts of poverty; strengthening the military with better pay, better planning, and better equipment; saving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare by providing seniors with more options; and ushering in the responsibility era in America.

George W. Bush was born July 6th, 1946 and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He served as an F-102 pilot for the Texas Air National Guard. He began his career in the oil and gas business in Midland in 1975 and worked in the energy industry until 1986. After working on his father’s 1988 presidential campaign he assembled the group of partners that purchased the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989 and which later built the Ranger’s new home, the Ballpark at Arlington.

He served as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers until he was elected Governor on November 8, 1994, with 53.5 percent of the vote. In a historic re-election victory, he became the first Texas Governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms on November 3, 1998 winning 68.6 percent of the vote.

In 1998 Governor Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote, 27 percent of the African-American vote, 27 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of women. He won more Texas counties, 240 of 254, than any modern Republican other than Richard Nixon in 1972 and is the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win the heavily Hispanic and Democratic border counties of El Paso, Cameron and Hidalgo.

Governor Bush and his wife, Laura, a former teacher and librarian who grew up in Midland, reside in the historic Governor’s mansion in Austin with their 18-year-old twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, their dog, Spot, and their two cats, India and Ernie.

Governor Bush is a Methodist and has served on the boards of various charitable, business, and civic organizations.

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