A president who distances himself from stagecraft will find himself upstaged.
George H. W. Bush sought to “stay the course” in terms of policy while distancing himself from the public relations strategies employed during the administration of Ronald Reagan, his predecessor. But Bush discovered during his one-term presidency that a strategy of policy continuity coupled with mediocre communication skills “does not make for a strong public image as an effective and active leader in the White House", as author and scholar Lori Cox Han demonstrates in A Presidency Upstaged.
Incorporating extensive archival research from the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University—including documents only recently available through requests made under the Freedom of Information Act—Han thoroughly examines the public presidency of George H. W. Bush. Han analyzes how communication strategies, relationships with the press, and public opinion polling shaped and defined his image as a leader. The research for this study also includes content analysis of press coverage (both print and television) and major public addresses during the Bush administration.
"Lori Cox Han skillfully uses archival materials, interviews and leading academic studies to present a thorough analysis of George H.W. Bush's public presidency. Her book is a valuable addition to the literature on presidential communications, media, and politics, and also stands as a very useful resource on the events of the first Bush presidency."-Mark Rozell, professor of Public Policy, George Mason University and author, Power and Prudence
What Readers Are Saying:
"Lori Cox Han skillfully uses archival materials, interviews, and leading academic studies to present a thorough analysis of George H.W. Bush's public presidency. Her book is a valuable addition to the literature on presidential communications, media, and politics, and also stands as a very useful resource on the events of the first Bush presidency."--Mark Rozell, professor of Public Policy, George Mason University and author, Power and Prudence
"This book considers the fact that Bush may have failed in his style as a communicator, but his years in the White House, and the content of his messages while president, did have many substantive aspects. A more in depth analysis of those messages, and the strategy behind them, allows us to see past the lack of imagery to better appreciate the effort through the public aspects of the day-to-day operation of the Bush White House."
"Han uses documents from the Bush Library extensively, and the book is particularly strong when it examines both the inside story of why Bush framed his communication strategy as he did and the changing political and media environments in which his speech acts unfolded."--A.L. Crothers, Illinois State University, Choice Magazine
"...interesting, well-written, and well documented..."
"Han deftly chronicles the logic, debates, tactics, and tradeoffs informing the Bush administration's communication strategy."
"The book brims with irony and paradox as it chronicles the substance, sources, and progressive deterioration of Bush-media relations over his term."
"...worthwhile reading, showing how strategy, tactics, presidential predisposition, events, and personalities interacted to affect Bush's public presidency..."
“Han offers a fascinating and useful look at the White House communications operation of George H. W. Bush. Han provides us with a compelling portrait of Bush’s approach to public rhetoric. This book challenges the dominant paradigm in modern studies of presidential communications. A Presidency Upstaged reminds us how important the personal proclivities of individual presidents can be in shaping behavior in the White House.”—Richard J. Powell, Presidential Studies Quarterly