Who Is George W. Bush?

How conservative is George W. Bush? How capable? This week, the staff of Texas Monthlymagazine allows Slate readers to eavesdrop as they discuss what kind of president Bush would make. 


Many thoughts generated by your postings.

Fearless Leader: No, let’s do get you started on education. All I hear from Bush and others is how he’s done this or that on education—yet the Gore folks and their fellow travelers in Austin insist that statewide SAT scores are actually down during the Dubya Era. Which is it? Once and for all, I’d like to know precisely and exactly what it is that allows Bush to make the dean’s list, as it were, and not wear the dunce cap. He got them to write a curriculum … ? Or his education advisers did? And what does “got them” mean?

Which brings me to another question, perhaps best answered by Paul: What can a governor of Texas do on education or any other issue, given the fact that Texas is a so-called weak governor state—that is, one in which the legislature, and specifically the lieutenant governor, wields the real power? Bush may be great at palling around with folks and shouting “Wazzup?” from the window of his guvmobile, but what effect can he actually have, constitutionally speaking? I wonder if, in fact, the answer is nothing, in which case we’ll be faced this November with a contest between a guy who spent his time going to Rangers games and a guy who spent his time going to state funerals.

Joe Nick: Cranky suits you. And it’s nice to listen to/read an intelligent crank for a change. The people who attack him regularly—I mean really attack him—are straight out of the bar scene in Star Wars: hit-man-hiring biographers, alternative weeklings, and, predictably, Molly Ivins, the Jar Jar Binks of unreconstructed liberalism. I don’t doubt that she and my close personal friend Lou Dubose are sincere in their desire to prune Shrub, but their book reads like one long rant. Not a single person who isn’t already disposed to dislike the guy is going to be swayed. Ah, the Bush books. Pam, as a connoisseur of the genre, do you think they’re about advancing the ball or just about pocketing the advance? Biz Mitchell collected more during the primaries than Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer combined. Scary.

Over to you,