The Contemporary Presidency: The Permanence of the “Permanent Campaign”: George W. Bush's Public Presidency



Early American presidents largely avoided engaging in public appeals or spectacles, embracing ct nonpkbiscitary conception of the institution. However, the contemporary presidency, sur-roundedby a vast army of pollsters, publicrelations specialists, and press assistants, sometimes more closely resembks a vigorous electoral campaign than that quaint institution. President Clinton so exuberantly embraced the public role that scholars have begun to question whether the line between campaigning and governing might have become so blurred as to now constitute a “permanent campaign.” When President George W. Bush largely evaded the spotlight during the 2000 election aftermath and conducted an understated and quasi-private transition to power, it seemed that the rhetorical presidency had returned to its modern equilibrium. However, Bush's extensive travel and speech making during his fir sty ear in office suggest instead that public expectations and strategic calculations mandate that the permanent campaign is now a permanent feature of the American presidency.