The George W. Bush Legacy


Edited by: Colin Campbell, Bert A. Rockman & Andrew Rudalevige

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    The George W. Bush Legacy is edited and written by the top presidential and congressional scholars in political science. It sets the ‘gold standard’ for an assessment of George W. Bush. All of the major perspectives about the way President Bush was reelected and the way he led during an unpopular war and divided party government are presented in this one volume. It blends theory and empirical observation in a way that makes this book perfect for university students, the general public, and even President Bush. Yes, President Bush should read it. He will learn a great deal about his leadership and legacy, and so will the general reader.”

    —James A. Thurber, American University

    “This early assessment of the George W. Bush presidency by leading American politics experts sets a high standard for future work on the subject. Summing up without dumbing down, the volume is nuanced and nonpartisan, scholarly but accessible. Agree or not with its main themes and theses, it will inform and challenge both supporters and critics of the Bush 43 White House.”

    —John J. DiIulio Jr., University of Pennsylvania, and former director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

    “When a sports team takes the field to start a new year after a record-setting performance, hardly any observers predict that they'll repeat the winning season. Well, Campbell and Rockman are back, and the prospects look good. They've retooled the lineup, matching the seasoned experience of the senior editors with the energy of a new coeditor, Andrew Rudalevige. And they've kept the great strength from their earlier volumes—a consistent focus on the big questions behind the headlines—embedding the analysis of Bush's actions in thoughtful models of the constitutional balance among the branches of government; the influence of public opinion and interest groups; and the impact of an ideological policymaking system on foreign policy, the judiciary, and the military. Throughout, the writing manages to be at once vigorous, authoritative, and thought provoking. This collection should be required reading for ill-informed talk show pundits, and it will surely strengthen the capacity of students and ordinary citizens to exercise their responsibility to hold the government accountable.”

    —M. Stephen Weatherford, University of California, Santa Barbara

    “This volume does far more than recount the details of the presidency of George W. Bush. Essays by prominent scholars also offer thoughtful, systematic, and provocative analyses of the administration's driving values and key initiatives and of the challenges and constraints it confronted. They highlight as well the problems and possibilities that Bush 43 will bequeath to his successors. Telling historical comparisons and careful political science analysis weave throughout and inform the discussion. Students and presidency scholars alike will learn from this stimulating collection.”

    —Karen Hult, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    “This volume provides a comprehensive and timely appraisal of the Bush 43 administration. It systematically examines the governing style and policy choices of President George W. Bush across a wide range of topics, both foreign and domestic. The George W. Bush Legacy will be essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the administration's political leadership as well as its decisions about the economy, Supreme Court nominations, the war in Iraq, and other key issues in American politics in the early twenty-first century. The thoughtful chapters written by noted scholars of the presidency will be informative for students and faculty alike.”

    —Meena Bose, Hoftra University

    “This book does something rare and valuable: it explains current American politics and teaches political science, and does so in a way interesting to professors as much as to students. Well-written, complete, and filled with unobtrusive but skilled political science, this book will delight and benefit faculty and students alike. My students, professionals with a wide range of political and policy interest and knowledge, all benefit—the ones with advanced understanding of the issues and work in politics react to the high intellectual level, while the ones with less background in politics and political science see that both headlines and other course readings make sense in the various chapters.”

    —Scott Greer, University of Michigan

    “The Bush presidency has been a historic one, for better or for worse. If you want to understand and evaluate the legacy of George W. Bush, these senior scholars provide the guideposts with excellent scholarship and incisive writing.”

    —James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University


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    To Prudence

    Tables and Figures

    • 3.1 Key Votes and Public Opinion, 2001–2006 54
    • 3.2 Selected Presidential Proposals and Congressional Votes That Public Opinion Supports, 2002–2006 55
    • 3.3 Cases When Key Votes and Public Opinion Are Not Congruent, 2001–2006 57
    • 3.4 Reasons That Public Opinion or Policy Content Were Not Clear on Key Votes, 2001–2006 58
    • 3.5 Selected Presidential Proposals and Congressional Votes on Which the Policy Content and Public Opinion Were Not Clear, 2001–2006 59
    • 4.1 Casualties, Time, and Support for the War in Iraq 65
    • 4.2 Casualties, Time, and Support for the War in Iraq, by Party Identification 70
    • 4.3 The Consistency of Opinions on Wars and Presidents 80
    • 5.1 Percentage Point Changes in Policy Views, 1984–2004 97
    • 5.2 Issues That Registered Voters Rated “Very Important,” June 2006 105
    • 9.1 Judicial Confirmation Rates for Lower Court Nominees, 1945–2005 193
    • 9.2 U.S. District and Circuit Court Nominations during the First Two Years of a Presidency, 1981–2002 196
    • 2.1 The Political Ideologies of Voters, 1972–2004 27
    • 2.2 Strong Party Identifiers as a Percentage of Voters, 1952–2004 29
    • 2.3 The President's Base and Moderate Vote as a Percentage of the President's Popular Vote, 1972–2004 32
    • 2.4 Percentages of Poll Respondents Saying That the Presidential Candidates Share Their Values, Sept.-Oct. 2004 34
    • 4.1 Popular Support for the Iraq War (All Question Wordings) 63
    • 4.2 Approval of George W. Bush Job Performance, 2001–2007 64
    • 4.3 Expectations of U.S. Success in Iraq 67
    • 4.4 Acceptance of Casualties and Support for the Iraq War 68
    • 4.5 Party Identification and Support for the Iraq War (All Question Wordings) 68
    • 4.6 Partisanship and Trends in Support for the Vietnam War (U.S. Did Not Make a Mistake in Sending Troops to Fight in Vietnam) 69
    • 4.7 Approval of George W. Bush's Job Performance, 2001–2007, by Party Identification 71
    • 4.8 Responses to the Survey Question, Does (Did) Iraq Possess Weapons of Mass Destruction? 73
    • 4.9 Responses to the Survey Question, Was Saddam Hussein Personally Involved in September 11? 74
    • 4.10 Responses to the Survey Question, Is the War in Iraq Part of the War on Terrorism? 76
    • 4.11 Poll Respondents'Views on the Effect of the Iraq War on Terrorism and U.S. Security, by Party 76
    • 4.12 Support for Keeping U.S. Troops in Iraq 78
    • 4.13 Support for Keeping U.S. Troops in Iraq, by Party 79
    • 4.14 Responses to the Survey Question, Did the Bush Administration Intentionally Mislead the Public in Making the Case for the Iraq War? 80
    • 4.15 Support for the Iraq War and Approval of George W. Bush's Job Performance 81
    • 4.16 Approval of George W. Bush's Performance and Support for the Iraq War, by Party 82
    • 4.17 Who Is Winning the War in Iraq? 83
    • 4.18 Evaluations of How Well the War in Iraq Is Going, by Party 83
    • 4.19 Relationship between Opinions on George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and Respondents' Preferences for House Candidates, 2006 85
    • 4.20 Cumulative U.S. Casualties and Projected Support for the Iraq War 88
    • 5.1 Ideological Self-Placement of All Respondents Living in Red and Blue States: Both Red and Blue State Residents Are Basically Centrists 94
    • 5.2 Gallup Liberal-Conservative Self-Identification, by Decade, 1970–2000: Americans Today Are No Less Moderate than a Generation Ago 96
    • 5.3 Regular Churchgoers Are Much Less Likely than Nonattenders to Vote Democratic for President since 1992 99
    • 5.4 The Income Divide in Presidential Voting Is Greater than a Generation Ago 100
    • 5.5 Two Very Different Close Election Scenarios 101
    • 5.6 When Should Abortion Be Legal? Partisans Are Not Very Different 103
    • 10.1 State of the Union Language, 2002, 2006, and 2007 226
    • 11.1 U.S. Military Challenges 253
    • 11.2 The Effort to Balance Capabilities among the Four Types of Security Challenges 255
    • 13.1 Typology of White House Liaison with Interest Groups 296


    George W. Bush entered office through controversial means—the famous chad-hanging, suspenseful, and ultimately judicially decided election of 2000. At the sunset of his two-term administration, he will leave office as one of the most controversial presidents in modern history. His presidency has been one of consequence. And consequential presidencies are likely to be controversial. For the first time since the 1920s, a Republican president had a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress for most of his time in office. That majority was slim, but it was cohesive. Though it tallied some major legislative accomplishments, and helped shepherd controversial nominations to the courts and the executive, that majority's most notable legacy may be that it was able to shield the president from investigations, while not challenging ambitious presidential assertions of unilateral authority or the actions grounded in those assertions. The authors of the chapters that follow point to the impacts of this presidency.

    But if the George W. Bush administration has left big footprints, how durable will they be? The sands of time tend to erase many of the outcomes that we think will be long lasting when they occur. From our current perspective, we cannot be certain. None of us has the power to look that far into the future. Nevertheless, a presidency of consequence—however controversial the consequences may be—is apt to leave much for its successors to deal with or build upon. The durability of Bush's legacy remains to be seen, but he will have left a long to-do list for his successor.

    Bush's presidency came at a time in American history when our parties have been unusually cohesive internally and sharply divided from each another. Bush came into office claiming to be a healer but found that path unlikely to provide political payoff. As a result, he has been labeled a highly divisive president, one who has governed from a narrow base despite having had threadbare majorities electorally and in Congress during most of his time in office. There is no doubt that Bush has done little to ease our era of “bad feeling.” Indeed, there is every reason to believe that his presidency has contributed to the intensity and depth of the partisan division that exists in the United States. But how much of this was uniquely Bush's contribution, and how much has derived from the vast gulf of differences between congressional politicians of the two parties, the party activists, and even the rank and file of party identifiers? Close to sixty years ago, a committee commissioned by the American Political Science Association decried the lack of cohesion and responsibility in our then ideologically identifiable, but less cohesive, parties. Their hopes for a more coherent party system have come true, and consequently, George W. Bush is both a product of, and a contributor to, the current divisions.

    Yet another aspect of the George W. Bush presidency that has been emphasized has been the so-called Bush bubble—implying that the president has seemed to be shielded from critiques of current or contemplated policy. Bush has repeatedly emphasized the decisional elements of his presidency, his willingness to stand steadfast at high noon when others have packed and left town. He has emphasized that he has limited tolerance for self-doubt and that once he has decided, he will stand firm in his choices. The Bush presidency has illuminated the two faces of leadership: we want leaders to have convictions and to be firm in upholding their choices, but we also want them to respond to adverse consequences and make adjustments. We want them to be sure of themselves but also wise and judicious. We want leaders to be strong but not to distance themselves too greatly from the median voter. It seems as though George W Bush is more sure of who he is than we may want him to be. Unlike his father, George H. W. Bush, “W” has lots of vision; unlike his father, however, he may come up short on prudence. It is not easy to combine vision with prudence, or vice versa. The absence of vision can harm a president; the absence of prudence can harm the country. A president probably does need to argue with himself or herself, after all.

    This is the fifth book in a series dating back to the presidency of George H. W. Bush; when we began, we did not know that we would have to refer to him using all of his initials. It is the second published by CQ Press, which has done its usual superb job of putting all of the production pieces together, in a timely way and with due concern for what the editors and authors want to accomplish. We are particularly grateful to Charisse Kiino, who oversaw the book from concept to finished product. She both listened to us and advised us in ways that should set an example for any president. Nancy Geltman did a wonderful job yet again of copyediting, consigning many of our most cherished but unnecessary phrases and sentences to the cutting room floor. Talia Greenberg responded patiently to our insistence on wanting to tweak things just a little more at the page proof stage. Allie McKay, Erin Snow, and Chris O'Brien helped get the book into production, get it known, and get it marketed, respectively. Our thanks to you all.

    The late Ed Artinian inspired this series at the now-defunct Chatham House Press. Ed has been gone for a decade, but his legacy lives on in this book.

    Any book series that goes on long enough also experiences some changing of the guard. Careful readers will note a number of new contributors to this volume. We are most grateful to them—and to past contributors as well—for their thoughtful and creative grappling with assessing presidencies and their possible legacies without the benefit of history. On the editorial side, Andy Rudalevige has joined this series as a coeditor for the first time. He is the face of a newer and younger, highly sophisticated generation of presidency scholars. Colin Campbell has been a founding coeditor of this series. His contributions to scholarship on the presidency and executive politics in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are legendary. He has labored heroically under trying circumstances to see through his contributions to this book. He is our deeply valued friend and colleague. Perhaps like the famous baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, who retires annually only to come back and do wonders for his current team, Colin might still fire a few high hard ones for future editions.

  • About the Contributors

    Joel D. Aberbach is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy, at UCLA. He is cochair of the International Political Science Association's Research Committee on the Structure and Organization of Government. His books include In the Web of Politics (with Bert A. Rockman, 2000) and Keeping a Watchful Eye (1990). Institutions of American Democracy: The Executive Branch (2005), which he coedited with Mark A. Peterson, won the 2006 Richard E. Neustadt Award for best reference book on the American presidency. Aberbach is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

    Colin Campbell taught for nineteen years at Georgetown University, where he held the rank of university professor. He has published nine books, four of which have won prizes. Most recently, Preparing for the Future: Strategic Planning in the U.S. Air Force (with Michael Barzelay, 2003) received the Brownlow Prize. The U.S. Presidency in Crisis (1998) was awarded the Levine Prize. Campbell currently holds the Canada Research Chair in U.S. Government and Politics at the University of British Columbia, where he also chairs the U.S. Studies Program. He is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Public Administration.

    James E. Campbell is a professor and the chair of the Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His research examines American macropolitics: presidential campaigns, congressional elections, partisan realignments, the polarization of public opinion, and election forecasting. He is a former APSA Congressional Fellow and a former National Science Foundation program director. Campbell is the author of The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections, Cheap Seats, and The American Campaign: U.S. Presidential Campaigns and the National Vote, and the coeditor of Before the Vote: Forecasting American National Elections. His research has been published in numerous books and in the major political science journals.

    Morris P. Fiorina is the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science in Stanford's Department of Political Science and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution. His current research focuses on the polarization of American politics. He has written or edited ten books, most recently, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America (with Samuel Abrams and Jeremy Pope). A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fiorina has served on the editorial boards of a dozen professional journals in political science, law, and public policy.

    Christopher H. Foreman Jr. is a professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow in the Governance Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice (1998); Plagues, Products and Politics: Emergent Public Health Hazards and National Policymaking (1994); and Signals from the Hill: Congressional Oversight and the Challenge of Social Regulation (1988).

    Lawrence R. Jacobs is the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He is also a professor in the university's Department of Political Science. In addition to a wide range of public activities, Jacobs has published five books, including Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair: Health Care in the Good Society (with James Morone, 2005); Inequality and American Democracy (with Theda Skocpol, 2005); and Politicians Don't Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Y. Shapiro, 2000). He is the author of numerous articles in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, and other scholarly journals.

    Gary C. Jacobson is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He received his A.B. from Stanford in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Yale in 1972. He specializes in the study of U.S. elections, parties, interest groups, and Congress. He is the author of Money in Congressional Elections, The Politics of Congressional Elections, and The Electoral Origins of Divided Government, and coauthor of Strategy and Choice in Congressional Elections and The Logic of American Politics. His most recent book is A Divider, Not a Uniter: George W. Bush and the American People.

    Stephen Kersting received his B.S. in international politics from Georgetown University in 2005 and his MA. in security studies from the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in May 2007. He conducts research on security issues in the Middle East, with particular attention to intelligence, terrorism, and U.S.-Iran relations.

    Mark A. Peterson is professor of public policy and political science and former chair of the Department of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. His publications include Legislating Together, Institutions of American Democracy: The Executive Branch (edited with Joel Aberbach), “The Presidency and Organized Interests” (American Political Science Review), and “From Iron Triangles to Policy Networks” (Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law). His current research focuses on institutional change and interactions and the politics of national health care policymaking. As an APSA Congressional Fellow, Peterson served as a legislative assistant to Sen. Tom Daschle.

    Bert A. Rockman is professor in and head of the Department of Political Science at Purdue University. He also has been director of and professor in the School of Public Policy and Management at the Ohio State University, University Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His books include The Leadership Question, which was awarded the Richard E. Neustadt Prize by the APSAs Organized Section on the Presidency. He is also a past president of that section. He has recently coedited, with R. A. W. Rhodes and Sarah Binder, The Handbook of Political Institutions and, with Richard Waterman, Presidential Leadership: The Vortex of Political Power.

    Andrew Rudalevige is associate professor and chair of political science at Dickinson College. A former city councilor and state senate staffer, Rudalevige is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Harvard University. He is the author of The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate (2005) and Managing the President's Program (2002), which won the Richard E. Neustadt Award as the best book on the presidency that year. He serves on the governing council of the Presidency Research Group and is a frequent contributor to journals and edited volumes dealing with the institutions of American governance.

    Robert Y. Shapiro is a professor of political science at Columbia University director of the Public Opinion Project at Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and a 2006–2007 visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. He is coauthor of Politicians Don't Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Lawrence Jacobs, 2000) and The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences (with Benjamin Page, 1992). He is editor of Public Opinion Quarterly's “The Polls—Trends” section and a member of the editorial boards of Political Science Quarterly and Presidential Studies Quarterly

    Barbara Sinclair is Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at UCLA. Her publications on the U.S. Congress include articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and six books. Among the latter are Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress (1997, 2000, 2007) and Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of the Policy Process (2006). She was an American Political Science Congressional Fellow in the office of the House majority leader in 1978–1979 and a participant observer in the office of the Speaker in 1987–1988.

    Raymond Tanter is president of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, D.C., area think tank. He is also a visiting professor at Georgetown University where he teaches courses on international relations and terrorism. He is an adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and was scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute, in Washington. He served at the White House on the National Security Council staff in 1981–1982. In 1983–1984, he was the personal representative of the secretary of defense to arms control talks in Madrid, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Vienna. After receiving a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1964, Tanter taught at Northwestern, Stanford, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of Rogue Regimes: Terrorism and Proliferation and coauthor of What Makes Tehran Tick: Islamist Ideology and Hegemonic Interests.

    David A. Yalof received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from the University of Virginia. He is currently an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut. His first book, Pursuit of Justices: Presidential Politics and the Selection of Supreme Court Nominees (1999), was awarded the American Political Science Associations Richard E. Neustadt Award as the best book published on presidential studies in 1999. He is coauthor of The First Amendment and the Media in the Court of Public Opinion (2001). He is currently completing a book-length manuscript about executive branch wrongdoing and the due process of law.

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