The Presidency of George W. Bush

John Robert Greene

The Presidency of George W. Bush is the first balanced academic study to analyze the entirety of his presidency—domestic, social, economic, and national security policies—as well as the administration’s response to 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror. In so doing, John Robert Greene argues persuasively that the judgment of most scholars—that the Bush administration was a complete failure—has been made in haste and without the benefit of primary sources. This book is the first scholarly work to make wide use of the documents at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, many of which have only recently been made available to researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.

John Robert Greene offers a balanced assessment and nuanced conclusions supported by documentary evidence. Yet in doing so he does not absolve the Bush administration of its shortcomings. The Presidency of George W. Bush shows that the administration could be vindictive, as demonstrated by the Plame Wilson affair and the firing of the US attorneys. It all too often moved too slowly, as shown by the National Security Council’s lethargic handling of terrorism pre-9/11, the failed attempt to revise Social Security, and the sluggish reaction to Hurricane Katrina. It was an administration that accepted, and acted on, the highly suspect theory of the unitary presidency as advocated by Dick Cheney and accepted by the president. On the other side of the balance sheet, however, the evidence also makes it eminently clear that the Bush administration was responsible for many positive achievements: No Child Left Behind set the nation on the road toward affecting serious educational reform. In healthcare reform, the Bush administration both strengthened the Medicare system and extended its benefits for millions of Americans. And Bush did more to combat the worldwide scourge of AIDS, particularly in Africa, than any other president. In sum, the actions of this presidency continue to affect the presidencies of each of his successors as well as the trajectory of world history to the present day.

“John Robert Greene has produced an exceptional work of scholarship. This sweeping examination of the presidency of Bush 43 is likely to remain the seminal account of a controversial and remarkably significant administration. Strikingly fair-minded, Greene’s book challenges the conventional narrative of those on the Right and the Left regarding the Bush presidency. This is a gem of a book—a must-read for all those interested in contemporary history and the American presidency.”

—Stephen F. Knott, author of The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal

“John Robert Greene’s biography of George W. Bush hits all the high notes—the good and the bad—of a straightforward life but complicated presidency. Neither friend nor foe of the forty-third president, and based on archival records only recently available, Greene’s well-written presidential biography makes a strong case that, like him or hate it, the presidency of George W. Bush mattered, and we ignore it at our (scholarly) peril.”

—Charles L. Zelden, author of Bush v. Gore: Exposing the Growing Crisis in American Democracy, Third Expanded Edition

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About the Author

John Robert Greene is the Paul J. Schupf Professor of History and Humanities, Cazenovia College, and the author of I Like Ike: The Presidential Election of 1952; The Presidency of George H. W. Bush, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded; Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House; and The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, all from Kansas.

Additional Titles in the American Presidency Series Series