How George W. Bush would govern

George W. Bush is not a detail-oriented, hands-on manager, said both Democrats and Republicans from Texas, along with journalists from the state, at a forum Thursday. But they agreed he has compiled an impressive record in crafting public policy on a bipartisan basis as Texas governor.

Bush "really works from a big-picture angle," said Albert Hawkins, Texas budget director. "The governor is not totally hands-off, though. He stays engaged, but not at the detail level."

In terms of leadership style, Bush favors a "very flat organization," Hawkins said. "Senior staff get direct access to the governor any time we want or need it. There's just not this single focal point that everything goes through."

The forum, sponsored by the Transition to Governing Project, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution and the Hoover Institution, was the fourth and last in a series looking at the governing styles and approaches of the leading presidential candidates.

Michigan Gov. John Engler, a Bush supporter, noted that he is the only one of the current candidates with executive experience in government, even though he had only held public office for five years before launching his presidential campaign.

"The years get mentioned and I don't think they're very relevant," Engler said. "I'm not worried that somehow he's not prepared."

The panelists noted that the Texas governor is relatively limited in political powers under the state's constitution. But several said he has made the most of his authority, often through the force of his own personality.

"People who disagree with him on almost every issue say, "I can't help but like the guy,' " said Jay Root, Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"I compare him to (former Texas governor) John Connally as far as his ability to make the system work and bring the legislature to his agenda," said Bill Ratliff, a Republican who chairs the Finance Committee of the Texas Senate. "It's a great indication of his leadership skills that he can take a constitutionally weak office and do as much with it as he's done."

"He does come and look for bipartisan support," said Steven Wolens, a Democrat who chairs the State Affairs Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. "He doesn't look for blame, he looks to bring people together." Wolens acknowledged, however, that Texas is a generally conservative state without the sharp partisan differences that tend to characterize politics at the national level.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.