Peering through the Bushes: A Commentary by Nationally Syndicated Environmental Columnist Edward Flattau


Peering Through the Bushes is a running commentary on George W. Bush?s relationship to environmental issues.  Rather than render a detailed documentation of the president?s performance, the book conveys a broad impressionistic picture of the causative factors, current impacts, and future implications associated with Bush?s controversial environmental policies. The author is the nation?s senior nationally syndicated environmental columnist and has been following Bush?s environmental policy-making closely ...

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Peering Through the Bushes is a running commentary on George W. Bush’s relationship to environmental issues.  Rather than render a detailed documentation of the president’s performance, the book conveys a broad impressionistic picture of the causative factors, current impacts, and future implications associated with Bush’s controversial environmental policies. The author is the nation’s senior nationally syndicated environmental columnist and has been following Bush’s environmental policy-making closely enough over the years to feel comfortable making subjective judgments about the president’s character and motivation on those matters.

            Not surprisingly, many of Bush’s environmental positions mirror those of his father’s. But the son strays quite a bit further from the mainstream than Bush Senior ever did. Junior is much more enamored of conservative ideology than his father, and is seemingly even less convinced of the imminence and gravity of environmental threats.

            You can thus understand why George W. Bush’s takeover of the presidency has caused environmentalists to greet the 21st Century with trepidation. They have watched with dismay as their issues have been undermined by a discredited conservative ideological approach they thought had been put to rest when Ronald Reagan left office 15 years earlier.

            Suddenly, states’ rights, corporate volunteerism, and marketplace incentives were in vogue. Stringent environmental regulation and primacy of federal laws over local ones were out of favor except on the rarest of occasions. Bush gravitated towards an anachronistic unilateral stance on any number of international environmental matters, despite the United States inevitably having to operate in an ever more environmentally interdependent world. His “new” environmental approach had catapulted the nation back in time to the Reagan years, with their embarrassing and sometimes alarming ventures into isolationism.        

            This was not an auspicious way to inaugurate a century in which humanity can be expected to either restore an ecologically stressed planet to good health or doom earth to an irreversible downward environmental spiral.

             The specious rhetoric heard so often during Reagan’s reign was once again emanating from the White House. Preferential treatment in environmental controversies was granted to business interests in the guise of returning some sense of “balance” with natural resources protection. Rationalizations were concocted for opening up previously protected public conservation areas to industrial activity. Brimming with animus at his predecessor’s ideological stance, sexual dalliances, and defeat of his father, George W. Bush was obsessed with rescinding as many of Clinton’s environmental initiatives as possible.

Even after his inauguration, Bush displayed no sign of being able to broaden his environmental perspective beyond preconceived narrowly drawn ideological nostrums Those solutions might be applicable on occasion, but no more than that. Employing the politically correct methodology often appeared more important to Bush than reaching the correct result in environmental controversies. In the wake of the World Trade Center attack, he exhibited no recognition that reversing environmental degradation was a major component of any long-term solution to terrorism

            Unless there is some dramatic change, historians are certain to perceive Bush’s handling of environmental issues in public office as a tale of deception, indifference, and regulatory rollbacks.

            Chapter One contains entries in a diary that this author began when the president took office. As you will see, Bush engaged in his ideological vendetta against existing environmental safeguards from the get-go. Subsequent chapters deal with his motivation, character, tactics and ideology. The final chapter speculates on what the future might hold.




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Editorial Reviews

Arlie Schardt
"Ed Flattau is probably the dean of environmental/political journalists, and he has poured all of his 30 years on the job into this provocative-may I say maddening-account of the Bush Administration's unconscionable assault on America's environmental and public health protections."
president of Environmental Media Services and former Time, Newsweek writer/editor
In Peering through the Bushes, "Flattau dissects the administration's assault on the environment and exposes the many fallacies on which the president bases environmental policy…Flattau documents how President Bush and his cohorts under the banners of "balance" and "sound science" have worked to undo almost every aspect of the nation's environmental progress of the past 40 years."
Le Nouvel Observateur
In Peering Through the Bushes, veteran columnist Edward Flattau concludes that George W. Bush has supplanted Ronald Reagan as the worst environmental president in American history.
—Paris, Sept. 19, 2004
MIEWI Magazine
Flattau takes no prisoners in his broad impressionistic picture of the causes, impacts, and implications of Bush's controversial environmental policies....His rhetoric damns the administration's preconceived, narrowly drawn ideological nostrums, and dismisses the administration's record as a tale of deception, delusion, intractable doctrinaire thinking, indifference, and regulatory rollbacks.
— Metcalf Institute Environment Writer Internet Magazine, September, 2004
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413461121
  • Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Table of Contents



           Closet Environmentalist?
           Short-lived Honeymoon
           The Isolationist Tinge
           Painless War
           I've Got a Secret
           The Legacy

           Only So Far
           The Platform Tells All
           In His Own Words
           Uniter or Divider?

           Anything but Clinton
           How Dumb can you Get?
           Translucent Compassion
           Early Pluses and Minuses
           James Watt in Skirts
           Thoughts Unspoken
           Bush's Brave New World
           Anyone but Clinton-Again
           Earth Day Deja Vu

           Forge Nuance
           The Ugly American
           The Not So Grand Obsession
           Texas Walkabout
           To Be, Or Not To Be
           Image Making
           Poison Pen Letter
           Above the Law
           Moral Clarity
           Let the UN In
           Humility or Humiliation?

           Loading Up For Bear
           Overthrust Malarkey
           The Stealth Factor
           Specious Semantics
           Arctic Candor
           Anatomy of a Scam
           Bad Storytelling
           Operation Stealth
           Sins of Omission
           In the Eyes of the Beholder
           Dollar Deception
           The Patriotism Factor
           Trust Us
           Summer Doldrums

           The American Way
           A Shaky Pillar
           Justice Be Served
           Beyond Ideology
           Timidity From a Tough Guy
           It's The Science, Stupid!
           Cockeyed Priorities
           The False Populist
           Volunteerism Copout?
           Health Versus Profit
           Your Kinda Guy?
           Gagging on a Rule
           The Web of Life

           Divide and Conquer
           Hoodwinking the Clergy
           Campaign Potholes
           Under Suspicion
           Poll Watching
           Terrorizing the Environment
           Supreme Irony
           Game Plan
           Abuse of the Year
           Is Anybody Listening?
           Secret to Success
           Fall From Grace
           The Worst Ever?
           Future Challenges
           An Ecumenical Test
           Wild Card 
           The World Under Bush
           A Question of Values
           Power Failure
           The Vision Thing
           Not Getting It
           Unraveling the Base
           Consumed with Consumption
           Signs of Hope
           Earth Day 2004
           Credit Where Credit is Due

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