Presidency of George Bush

John Robert Greene, Author University Press of Kansas $35 (250p) ISBN 978-0-7006-0993-2
Cazenovia College historian Greene's verdict on George Bush's presidency will surprise no one: Bush triumphed in foreign policy, but stumbled fatally in domestic affairs. Greene traces what he perceives as Bush's failures on the home front, starting with Ronald Reagan's troubled legacy, which included the budget deficit, the savings and loan crisis and the failure of tax cuts to trickle down. (Some of these were, ironically, the exact problems Bush anticipated during his campaign against Reagan in 1980, when he labeled the policies of his future boss ""voodoo economics."") Due partly to a hostile and overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, according to Greene, Bush was unable to solve these troubles, a failure eagerly pounced upon in 1992 by Bill Clinton. Greene argues that Bush did better in foreign affairs, where he was able to capitalize on the considerable experience he had gained as ambassador to China, CIA director and vice-president. The Gulf War is described as the outstanding achievement of Bush's presidency, a smashing victory that reversed an illegal invasion, accelerated the Mideast peace process and crystallized post-Cold War international relations. Greene only briefly considers whether Bush should have taken the next step and ousted Saddam Hussein. In the end, it was Bush's misfortune to be sandwiched between two equally great communicators, the smiling Teflon movie star and the good old boy who feels everyone's pain. Bush could live up to neither the memory of one nor the promise of the other. Diminished though his legacy may be, Bush, Greene points out, ""brought no discredit to the office"" and produced ""a nation more stable than he had inherited"". A fine contribution to presidential biography, this should become the essential introduction to Bush's abbreviated, but still consequential, tenure in office. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
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