Provost, Colin, and Paul Teske, eds.: President George W. Bush's Influence Over Bureaucracy and Policy: Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Powers.

Author:Friedman, Barry D.
Position:Book review

Provost, Colin, and Paul Teske, eds. President George W. Bush's Influence Over Bureaucracy and Policy: Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Powers. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 272 pages. Cloth, $89.95.

Novelist Franz Kafka's father Hermann may or may not have been the first employer to refer to his employees as "paid enemies." More than one president of the United States has expressed the same frustration while lamenting his difficulties in trying to manage the employees of the national government's executive branch. Near the end of his presidency, Harry S. Truman predicted the unfulfilling future that awaited Dwight D. Eisenhower if he would win the 1952 presidential election. "He'll sit here and he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' [and Truman taps the desk repeatedly for emphasis] and nothing will happen. Poor Ike--it won't be a bit like the Army." Truman then summarized his own discontent by grumbling, "I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them.... That's all the powers of the President amount to." (1)

Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal vision introduced a noteworthy trend in the size of the executive branch's workforce, which amounted to 490,000 civilian employees when he took the oath of office in 1933 and grew to 736,000 civilian employees by the time he died in 1945, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, for a rather robust compound growth rate of 3.4 percent per year. By the time of the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, the number of civilian employees stood at 1,172,000. It is not a long reach to speculate that this number includes numerous "paid enemies" of the president. In any event, many a new president occupies the White House expecting the cooperation of his political appointees and civil-service employees so that he can deliver on his campaign promises, and is dumbfounded by the brazen disregard of his orders. Over the years, presidents have experimented with a number of methods to extract compliance from their subordinates or, failing that, to circumvent them to whatever extent possible. The efforts of Presidents John E Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Jimmy Carter were, for the most part, artfully deflected by political appointees and civil servants alike. Often, these subordinates presented their case to members of Congress and the leaders of their clientele's interest groups, who would unite to overcome the...

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