Catalogue


The collapse of fortress Bush : the crisis of authority in American government /
Alasdair Roberts.
imprint
New York : New York University Press, c2008.
description
xi, 266 p.
ISBN
081477606X (cloth : alk. paper), 9780814776063 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : New York University Press, c2008.
isbn
081477606X (cloth : alk. paper)
9780814776063 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6349394
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-09-01:
The Bush presidency is better understood as "dysfunctional" rather than "imperial," argues Roberts (Syracuse Univ.) in this dispassionate (and therefore critical) account of White House policy in the post-9/11 era. US political culture, deeply suspicious of the federal administrative state, prevented the Bush administration from enacting many of the policies that Bush's harshest critics feared. US civil liberties remain intact (although treatment of noncitizens has been shameful); little has been done to improve homeland security; and management of the reconstruction of New Orleans and the occupation in Iraq has been blundered. Roberts argues for an expansion of the power of the executive branch, as well as a clarification of the emergency powers of the president, before the nation is beset by yet another domestic or international menace. However, contra Roberts, it is difficult to be sanguine about White House power in light of Bush's frequent missteps in international relations, especially his disastrous, essentially unilateral decision to engage the doctrine of preemptive war. One theme that might have been useful to develop is the Presidency's complex and difficult relationship with the national electorate. But Roberts' sound judgment and expertise in the field of public administration make this an excellent primer on governance in the Bush years. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. R. M. Flanagan CUNY College of Staten Island
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-02-01:
To explain the actions of the Bush administration since 9/11, Roberts (public administration, Syracuse Univ.; Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age) offers a provocative and intriguing thesis: that the decisions made by Bush were tightly constrained by the American political system's "entrenched liberalism," and a prevailing culture of "neomilitarism." He argues that while the president has great potential power as outlined in the Constitution, in fact his ability to act is limited by its checks and balances, by diminished public trust in and fear of big government, by advances in media news investigation and dissemination, and by the people's resistance to government action that limits their own liberties. Indeed, the author views the resistance of civil libertarians to the Patriot Act and Bush administration efforts to engage in domestic surveillance as evidence that entrenched liberalism undermined Bush's authority. Moreover, the military establishment has so thoroughly transformed itself since Vietnam (e.g., by shedding the draft, by developing high-tech weapons that make combat seem like a video game) that it is now held in higher public esteem than Congress or the President. Roberts carefully develops his argument with examples and compelling logic. Some of his points are vaguely reminiscent of Richard Neustadt's Presidential Power, that the real power of any President is the power to persuade. Despite this reviewer's concern with the author's evaluation of some of Bush's actions, the book deserves a wide audience. It will likely raise many questions to pose to presidential candidates in this election cycle. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes University (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-12-24:
In the years following the September 11 attacks, supporters and critics of the Bush administration have debated its broad expansion of executive authority. Syracuse professor Roberts breaks decisively from these assertions, instead arguing that the Bush administration has repeatedly failed to consolidate presidential authority. Where critics decry recent infringements on civil liberties, the author counters that, in comparison to previous historical crises, legal and social protections have limited the scope of these infringements. Similarly, the realities of geo-politics have constrained espoused changes in foreign policy typified by the Bush Doctrine advocating preemptive action against threats to American interests. The author insists that the institutional design of the federal government and political shifts of the 1960s and 1970s have made the consolidation of executive power extremely difficult. This provocative, intelligent book will likely challenge the opinions of Bush's champions and detractors alike. With his simple but compelling central argument that "personnel may change, but the broad constraints on federal action do not shift so readily," Roberts suggests that institutional forces have shaped American politics more profoundly than the personalities and aspirations of those in power. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A counterintuitive critique of why the Bush administration collapsed, both internationally and domestically."
"A counterintuitive critique of why the Bush administration collapsed, both internationally and domestically." - Publishers Weekly
"A counterintuitive critique of why the Bush administration collapsed, both internationally and domestically." -Publishers Weekly
"A trenchant analysis of the last eight years of American political history. . . . A work of rare insight that fills gaps glaringly evident in most public discourse."
"A trenchant analysis of the last eight years of American political history. . . . A work of rare insight that fills gaps glaringly evident in most public discourse." - Kirkus Reviews
"A trenchant analysis of the last eight years of American political history. . . . A work of rare insight that fills gaps glaringly evident in most public discourse." -Kirkus Reviews
"Roberts' book reminds us of a fundamental truth about modern democracies--governments and their opponents often have a vested interest in exaggerating the degree to which rhetoric has been transformed into reality."
"Roberts' book reminds us of a fundamental truth about modern democracies--governments and their opponents often have a vested interest in exaggerating the degree to which rhetoric has been transformed into reality." - Public Finance
"Roberts' book reminds us of a fundamental truth about modern democracies--governments and their opponents often have a vested interest in exaggerating the degree to which rhetoric has been transformed into reality." -Public Finance
"Roberts' sound judgment and expertise in the field of public administration make this an excellent primer on governance in the Bush years."
"Roberts' sound judgment and expertise in the field of public administration make this an excellent primer on governance in the Bush years." - Choice
"Roberts' sound judgment and expertise in the field of public administration make this an excellent primer on governance in the Bush years." -Choice
"To explain the actions of the Bush administration since 9/11, Roberts . . . offers a provocative and intriguing thesis: that the decisions made by Bush were tightly constrained by the American political system's 'entrenched liberalism,' and a prevailing culture of 'neomilitarism.' . . . [T]he book deserves a wide audience. It will likely raise many questions to pose to presidential candidates in this election cycle. Highly recommended for all libraries."
"To explain the actions of the Bush administration since 9/11, Roberts . . . offers a provocative and intriguing thesis: that the decisions made by Bush were tightly constrained by the American political system's 'entrenched liberalism,' and a prevailing culture of 'neomilitarism.' . . . [T]he book deserves a wide audience. It will likely raise many questions to pose to presidential candidates in this election cycle. Highly recommended for all libraries." - Thomas J. Baldino, Library Journal
"To explain the actions of the Bush administration since 9/11, Roberts . . . offers a provocative and intriguing thesis: that the decisions made by Bush were tightly constrained by the American political system's 'entrenched liberalism,' and a prevailing culture of 'neomilitarism.' . . . [T]he book deserves a wide audience. It will likely raise many questions to pose to presidential candidates in this election cycle. Highly recommended for all libraries." - Thomas J. Baldino,Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, December 2007
Library Journal, February 2008
Choice, September 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
When the Bush presidency began to collapse, pundits were quick to tell a tale of the "imperial presidency" gone awry, a story of secretive, power-hungry ideologues who guided an arrogant president down the road to ruin. But the inside story of the failures of the Bush administration is both much more complex and alarming, says leading policy analyst Alasdair Roberts. In the most comprehensive, balanced view of the Bush presidency to date, Roberts portrays a surprisingly weak president, hamstrung by bureaucratic, constitutional, cultural and economic barriers and strikingly unable to wield authority even within his own executive branch. The Collapse of Fortress Bush shows how the president fought--and lost--key battles with the defense and intelligence communities. From Homeland Security to Katrina, Bush could not coordinate agencies to meet domestic threats or disasters. Either the Bush administration refused to exercise authority, was thwarted in the attempt to exercise authority, or wielded authority but could not meet the test of legitimacy needed to enact their goals. Ultimately, the vaunted White House discipline gave way to public recriminations among key advisers. Condemned for secretiveness, the Bush administration became one of the most closely scrutinized presidencies in the modern era. Roberts links the collapse of the Bush presidency to deeper currents in American politics and culture, especially a new militarism and the supremacy of the Reagan-era consensus on low taxes, limited government, and free markets. Only in this setting was it possible to have a "total war on terrorism" in which taxes were reduced, private consumption was encouraged, and businesses were lightly regulated. A balanced, incisive account by a skilled observer of U.S. government, The Collapse of Fortress Bush turns the spotlight from the powerful cabal that launched the war in Iraq to tell a much more disturbing story about American power and the failure of executive leadership.
Main Description
When the Bush presidency began to collapse, pundits were quick to tell a tale of the "imperial presidency" gone awry, a story of secretive, power-hungry ideologues who guided an arrogant president down the road to ruin. But the inside story of the failures of the Bush administration is both much more complex and alarming, says leading policy analyst Alasdair Roberts. In the most comprehensive, balanced view of the Bush presidency to date, Roberts portrays a surprisingly weak president, hamstrung by bureaucratic, constitutional, cultural and economic barriers and strikingly unable to wield authority even within his own executive branch.The Collapse of Fortress Bushshows how the president fought--and lost--key battles with the defense and intelligence communities. From Homeland Security to Katrina, Bush could not coordinate agencies to meet domestic threats or disasters. Either the Bush administration refused to exercise authority, was thwarted in the attempt to exercise authority, or wielded authority but could not meet the test of legitimacy needed to enact their goals. Ultimately, the vaunted White House discipline gave way to public recriminations among key advisers. Condemned for secretiveness, the Bush administration became one of the most closely scrutinized presidencies in the modern era.Roberts links the collapse of the Bush presidency to deeper currents in American politics and culture, especially a new militarism and the supremacy of the Reagan-era consensus on low taxes, limited government, and free markets. Only in this setting was it possible to have a "total war on terrorism" in which taxes were reduced, private consumption was encouraged, and businesses were lightly regulated.A balanced, incisive account by a skilled observer of U.S. government,The Collapse of Fortress Bushturns the spotlight from the powerful cabal that launched the war in Iraq to tell a much more disturbing story about American power and the failure of executive leadership.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
A Crisis of Authorityp. 1
Citizens and Aliensp. 24
Home Alonep. 58
Soothing the Marketp. 84
Cakewalkp. 106
The Collapse of Fortress Bushp. 135
Beyond the Imperial Presidencyp. 164
Notesp. 177
Indexp. 251
About the Authorp. 266
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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