Bush's Brain (No, Not Karl Rove): How Bush’s Psyche Shaped His Decision-Making
R. Maranto, JUDGING BUSH, Stanford University Press, 2009
29 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 26, 2009
We summarize the most systematic work on George W. Bush's psyche. SAT scores and other available measures indicate that Bush has sufficient intelligence to serve as president. Yet the best studies, in which raters evaluate statements without being aware of their source, suggest that Bush lacks integrative complexity and thus views issues without nuance. The leading personality theory (the “5-Factor Model”), as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory, suggests that Bush is highly extroverted but not very agreeable or conscientious. He also scores low on “Openness to Experience." Similarly, using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria, Bush fits the “Outgoing,” “Dominant (Controlling),” and “Dauntless” personality patterns, which together constitute a style given to lack of reflection, superficiality, and impulsivity. When compared to other presidents, Bush most closely resembles Jackson, Reagan, and Harding, but is very unlike his father, George H.W. Bush.
We apply these findings to discussions of President Bush's decision-making in the cases of his most notable success, education reform, and his most notable failure, the Iraq war. We argue that Bush's psychological predispositions were particularly noteworthy in the latter, in part because greater presidential power in foreign policy magnifies the impacts of leader personality.
Keywords: Bush, Presidential Greatness, Presidential Leadership, Iraq War, No Child Left Behind Act, Personality, Cognitive style, Presidential Decision making
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