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Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy

Overview

George W. Bush ran for office promising to continue what conservative icon Ronald Reagan started, and two years into his first term, Bush was still being described as "Reagan's son." Today, with the Iraq War spinning out of control and the Democrats in charge of Congress, Republicans and the conservative movement have all but abandoned George W. Bush. What happened? Did Bush change, or did his party's perceptions? Has the war and Bush's performance on other issues derailed the larger goals of the Reagan ...

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Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy

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Overview

George W. Bush ran for office promising to continue what conservative icon Ronald Reagan started, and two years into his first term, Bush was still being described as "Reagan's son." Today, with the Iraq War spinning out of control and the Democrats in charge of Congress, Republicans and the conservative movement have all but abandoned George W. Bush. What happened? Did Bush change, or did his party's perceptions? Has the war and Bush's performance on other issues derailed the larger goals of the Reagan Revolution— and even undermined its foundations? Or does the nation remain on a conservative path despite Bush's low standing with his fellow Americans?

In Reagan's Disciple, two widely respected reporter/ historians provide an authoritative and concise investigation into these issues. They describe the essence of the 40th and the 43rd presidencies, and compare them to shed new light on the history of the past three decades. They show both how extraordinary a leader Reagan was, and how preposterous the expectations for Bush were from the beginning. As Americans look toward choosing a new leader in 2008, Reagan's Disciple will serve as an instructive tale for Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
The Cannons.are reporters, not bloggers. Their tone is dispassionate. Their prose is measured, with nary a pejorative adjective. They are devoted to "analysis based on facts and historical context," and that is precisely the strength of this book, which interweaves the Reagan and Bush narratives (the father covered Reagan for The Washington Post; the son covered Bush for the National Journal) and arrives at judicious findings based on the weight of the evidence.
Dick Polman
The Cannons…are reporters, not bloggers. Their tone is dispassionate. Their prose is measured, with nary a pejorative adjective. They are devoted to "analysis based on facts and historical context," and that is precisely the strength of this book, which interweaves the Reagan and Bush narratives (the father covered Reagan for The Washington Post; the son covered Bush for the National Journal) and arrives at judicious findings based on the weight of the evidence.
—The Washington Post
Economist
As George Bush's presidency draws to a close, biographers are scrambling to capture its essence between hard covers. Few will do as good a job as Lou and Carl Cannon. The Cannons are canny, diligent reporters steeped in American politics. Mr. Cannon senior has written five books about Ronald Reagan. Carl, his son, was until recently the White House correspondent for the National Journal, a weekly magazine for Washington insiders. In "Reagan's Disciple", they have produced as subtle an account of the past seven years as you could wish for.
Rocky Mountain News
Disciple is packed with backroom stories and insider details that political junkies will lap up.
New York Times Book Review
[A] sharp and discriminating account.
Christian Science Monitor
The Cannons write well and.deliver splendid passages full of fresh insights. Along the way, even the politically attentive will learn some interesting new facts. For me, they included the fact that the bomb that leveled the US Marine encampment in Lebanon in 1983, killing hundreds, was at the time the largest nonnuclear explosion ever detonated. And my favorite fact of all: that the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee rejected Ronald Reagan as a candidate for Congress in 1952 because he was too liberal. That's just one of many seismic political shifts you'll find chronicled in these pages.
Kirkus Reviews
Leading Reagan biographer Cannon (Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power, 2003, etc.) teams with son Carl (The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of War, 2003, etc.) to measure George W. Bush against the Gipper's formidable shadow. During the course of his successful political career, Ronald Reagan renovated the Republican Party, a transformation neatly replicated in miniature within the Bush family. Any Republican seriously aspiring to the Oval Office since 1988 has welcomed and sought comparisons to Reagan, no one more aggressively than the current occupant. As Bush's beleaguered presidency winds down, the Cannons deem him a worthy heir to Reagan on matters of tax and economic policies, judicial appointments and immigration issues. Otherwise, Bush shrivels in comparison to the Great Communicator. Where Reagan was flexible but aggressive, ruthless when necessary, attuned to public opinion and optimistic, Bush is stubborn, excessively loyal, passive and oddly indifferent to public opinion. Mindful of Reagan's failures in office, the authors, nevertheless, find none as egregious as the Iraq War, a conflict they conclude Reagan would have avoided, and one which will likely doom Bush's legacy. The Cannons detail how it all went wrong for Bush and how he strayed from the Reagan blueprint. Their narrative is distinguishable in three important ways from the innumerable Bush-bashing tomes that populate the bookshelves. First, the authors forthrightly confess that today's world moves rapidly and that events might still overtake the analysis they offer. Second, they avoid the hysterical, foaming-at-the-mouth tone that assessments of Bush often inspire. Third, they acknowledge the rich irony of using Reaganto hammer Bush, a favorite pastime of folks who had little use for the Californian while he was governing. Impossible for admirers of the current president to dismiss, the Cannons' detailed reporting, fluid style and mature judgment will particularly delight Bush's many critics. Agent: Kris Dahl/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586484484
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 1/28/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl M. Cannon is the White House correspondent for National Journal, the author of The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of War, and co-author of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, The Architect of George W. Bush's Remarkable Political Triumphs. He lives in Washington, D.C. Lou Cannon covered Ronald Reagan for thirty-six years, first as a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, later as The Washington Post White House correspondent. The author of five other books on Reagan including President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, he lives in Summerland, California.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Three Generations     1
What Reagan Wrought     27
The Three Presidencies of George W. Bush     55
Safe for Democracy     97
Noble Causes     111
The Short Wars of Ronald Reagan     135
The Long Wars of George W. Bush     169
M.B.A. President     219
Reagan's Disciple     257
Legacy     285
Acknowledgments     327
Notes     331
Bibliography     351
Index     363
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