Conference discusses Bush’s next term

Oscar Abello

Two days after the inauguration of President George W. Bush, despite the increasingly heavy snowfall, scholars gathered last Saturday at the Connelly Center cinema to discuss the prospects and perils of the upcoming second term for the current administration.

A series of five panels filled the day with discussion on topics such as expectations, White House organization, congressional/judicial organization, the domestic agenda and the foreign agenda. Each panel was made up of two or three experts on each subject, each of whom spoke individually, followed by a question-and-answer session with the panel as a whole. The event was broadcast live on C-Span 2, and was later rebroadcast at 9 p.m. on the same channel.

Professor Shirley Anne Warshaw, a noted Cabinet historian of Gettysburg College and author of several books on the subject, discussed the Cabinet and its importance as a political tool.

She noted how diversity is a necessary element in any Cabinet. In particular, she emphasized “gender, geographic and religious diversity” as key elements in displaying a more national face for the presidency.

Professor Bradley Patterson, of the Brookings Institution and several past White House staffs, discussed the staff: that is, those non-elected members of the executive branch. He numbered them at approximately 133 official White House staffers.

He described the White House staff as being an “institutionalized non-institution.” In other words, very little about the staff is prescribed by law, so it is subject to the whims of each president. However, much of its operation has become a tradition in Washington.

During the lunch hour, Stanley Renshon, professor of political science and coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social and Political Behavior at the City University of New York Graduate Center, spoke. His presentation focused on the psychology of the current president, how it has affected him and how it will affect him in the future.

He is also the author of “High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and the Politics of Ambition”; his most recent book is “In his Father’s Shadow: The Transformations of George W. Bush.”

“The president cannot unite America until he divides it,” Renshon said. “He cannot bring together America until he breaks the entrenched paradigm of interest group liberalism that has dominated American politics beginning in the New Deal Era.” He maintained that he sees President Bush as a transitional president, as someone who will “change the way politics operates for generations to come.”

Sophomore Jim Saksa, who attended the event, said, “Many students missed a fantastic opportunity Saturday to engage some of the top political minds in the nation in a topic of immense importance: the next four years under Bush. Love him or hate him, Bush is the most important man on Earth, and the decisions he makes will affect us all for decades to come.”