The Executive, the Magistrate, and the Maverick
Section 1 President George W. Bush
Section I President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush
Expectations were high for George W. Bush when he announced his presidential bid in June 1999. His experience as a corporate CEO and as the Governor of Texas had cemented the view among many that he was a highly competent and accomplished leader. This reputation led some to call him the CEO president (Suskind, 2004). In a similar vein, early in his tenure, the professor of public management Donald Kettl (2003: 2) argued that Bush was “the very model of a modern MBA president.” On the heels of the 2002 midterm elections, authors Carolyn Thompson and Jim Ware (2003: 1) claimed he was a “brilliant leader.” The alleged key to Bush’s success was his leadership style, which Kettl summarized:
Bush has carefully honed a style, based on building an effective team, to make strong decisions. He doesn’t try to master the complexities of decisions. Rather, he builds a team, he makes them master the complexities, he has them frame the issues – and then he decides, firmly and without second thoughts. (Kettl, 2003: 1)
This assessment was consistent with Bush’s own philosophy about leadership. As he acknowledged in the run up to his 2000 presidential campaign, “my job is to set the agenda and framework, to lay out the principles by which we operate and make decisions, and then delegate much of the process to [my staff]” (Bush, 1999: 104). However, despite the...
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