Blogs > HNN > The Two George W. Bushes: Which One Will Prevail?

Nov 9, 2006 4:55 pm

The Two George W. Bushes: Which One Will Prevail?

There are two Bushes. There is the governor who worked well with Democrats in Texas. And there is the president who has scorned bipartisanship.

Which one will we now see?

I'm guessing we'll see the same Bush we've seen for the last six years.

First, presidents usually don't change their stripes once in office. They assume that the approach they have taken while president is what got them where they are, so why change? I know of no president who suddenly reinvented himself in office. By their sixth year the die is cast.

Second, were Bush to change he would seem inauthentic. We would be left wondering just who he is. This would unnerve his supporters.

Third, he has more reason now than ever to please his base. Without them he has no support at all. He cannot afford to alienate them. Catering to them while striking a bipartisan note is almost impossible.

Fourth, as we go forward from here he will be sorely tempted to blame the collapse of Iraq on the Democrats. He will be looking for every excuse he can to claim that their policies and statements are undermining American morale and giving hope to the enemy. He cannot pursue this approach at the same time that he is making nice to the Democrats (though he will pretend to be making nice to them in order to claim later that he did everything he could to meet them halfway).

I therefore predict that he will continue to make bipartisan noises but will not seriously engage the opposition.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Ed Schmitt - 11/12/2006

Just a follow-up from the perspective an analysis of lobbyist influence in Texas.

Again, I wouldn't contend this is entirely determinative by any stretch, but it might suggest another reason - structural - why Bush seemed to "work so well with Democrats" in Texas. I'm no expert on Texas political history, but I think it's another factor worth considering that muddies the water of whether Bush really has two personas to choose from. Certainly there are presently "spurs" for the president that could push him to either go harder right or move toward the middle.

Oscar Chamberlain - 11/12/2006

I am not sure about Texas, but most biennial legislatures meet annually. However, the first year of each two year session is usually longer and much more important because the biennial budget is crafted then.

Ed Schmitt - 11/10/2006

Following up on Jonathan's point, however, doesn't the Texas legislature only meet every other year? Aside from whatever that might reveal about the premium that state places on governmental activism, isn't that also a built in spur (metaphor applied deliberately) to "working together"?

HNN - 11/10/2006

Hi Jonathan,

I agree with you that Texas Democrats aren't Washington Democrats. So it was a lot easier for Bush to deal with Dems in Texas than in DC.

I myself have made the same point you are making.

But what is significant to me is that Bush made the effort as governor to reach out to the opposition and as president he hasn't--except on one or two measures (No Child Left Behind, for instance).

Democrats in Texas are still partisans, as was shown when they fled across the border to Oklahoma in an ultimately futile effort to derail Tom DeLay's redistricting plan.

So whether the Democrats Bush dealt with were ideological soulmates of the president or not, they were the opposition.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/10/2006

I've heard the "worked well with Democrats in Texas" thing before, and it's never rung true with me. I have to ask: are Texas Democrats really similar enough to the rest of the Democratic party to be a good standard for comparison? And is governing in Texas anything at all like governing the country, so that any working relationship from that state is useful? (And yes, I've had these questions for seven years, thank you very much.)