MARCHING IN PLACE by Michael Duffy


The Status Quo Presidency of George Bush
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 A damned-with-faint-praise report on George Bush from Time magazine's White House correspondents. In their ambivalent audit, Duffy and Goodgame accentuate the presumptively negative aspects of the Chief Executive's first term, focusing on his putative disinterest in domestic affairs. Their plausible, if conventional, thesis is that the incumbent is an essentially reactive steward who sought high office not to remake the country but merely to serve it. While giving Bush full marks for his success in building the military coalition that drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, the authors insist that he's essentially a Tory whose deeply conservative worldview keeps him, for fear of making ``the wrong mistake,'' from responding boldly to such dramatic events as the Soviet bloc's breakup and mainland China's savage repression of its dissidents. According to Duffy and Goodgame, the President's risk-averse mind-set and abhorrence of instability virtually preclude substantive economic initiatives on the home front. They point out, for example, that he pays lip service to fiscal virtue without troubling to impose budgetary discipline, and that he advocates ``points of light'' in preference to a legislative agenda designed to achieve substantive change. Characterizing Bush as pro-business, not pro-market, the authors conclude that his purposefully low-key approach has indeed reduced the public's expectations of what government can and should do, thereby giving him an excellent chance of winning reelection. Paradoxically, perhaps, Duffy and Goodgame rather like their subject, expressing admiration for, among other qualities, his instinctive decency and ``gritty ruthlessness.'' As one unfortunate consequence, what evidently was meant to be a hard-hitting exposÇ comes off as a halfhearted hatchet job.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-73720-1
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1992