Bush's Active/Negative Presidency

Former presidential counsel John W. Dean writes that on political scientist James Dave Barber's scale of presidential personality types, George Bush is an "Active/Negative" president, a particularly dangerous form. While Dean postulates about the administration doing whatever they must to salavage this presidency and the GOP's future chances--various "October Surprise" scenarios include retiring Cheney to situate Rudy Giuliani for an '08 presidential bid, attacking Iran, or capturing bin Laden--this part was most fascinating:
Bush's defense of Rumsfeld was entirely substance-free. Bush simply told reporters in the Rose Garden that Rumsfeld would stay because "I'm the decider and I decide what's best." He sounded much like a parent telling children how things would be: "I'm the Daddy, that's why."

This, indeed, is how Bush sees the presidency, and it is a point of view that will cause him trouble.

Bush has never understood what presidential scholar Richard Neustadt discovered many years ago: In a democracy, the only real power the presidency commands is the power to persuade. Presidents have their bully pulpit, and the full attention of the news media, 24/7. In addition, they are given the benefit of the doubt when they go to the American people to ask for their support. But as effective as this power can be, it can be equally devastating when it languishes unused - or when a president pretends not to need to use it, as Bush has done.

Apparently, Bush does not realize that to lead he must continually renew his approval with the public. He is not, as he thinks, the decider. The public is the decider.
Image: Melvin Galapon's Pinhead, a portrait of Bush made entirely out of pushpins.

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