Professor Crotty’s Book Reviewed in Choice

July 24, 2012

The June 2012 issue of Choice reviewed Professor, and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Public Life, William Crotty’s book, A Defining Moment: The Presidential Election of 2004 in their feature issue, “Camelot to Gridlock: Significant Choice Reviews on the Presidency”.  Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, or simply CHOICE, is a magazine published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).  It is considered the premier source for reviews of academic books, electronic media, and Internet resources of interest to those in higher education.

The following are some insights from Professor William Crotty on the subject of his book,

“The presidential election of 2004 was one of the most important in recent history. First, there was a clear choice between candidates. One, George W. Bush, was a believer in the hardcore Right conservatism of Ronald Reagam and brought it to policymaking and government operations. John Kerry was a Massachusetts liberal with a long record of achievement in the Senate who held a diametrically opposed view of the role of government in society. He saw it, as did Democrats generally, as a vehicle to serve national interests by addressing the pressing issues of contemporary America, including the increasing economic imbalance between the top one percent or so, the wealthiest Americans, and everyone else. There was little the candidates agreed on.

Second, President Bush had restructured government, significantly increasing its national intelligence powers in response to the 9/11 terrorist attack. He expanded the military and emphasized an aggressive, combative foreign policy that led to the invasion of Iraq, arguing they were a supporter of and base for the terrorists, which proved not to be the case, and took miltary actions in Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda. The consequence was the longest running wars in American history. Further, the Bush administration through its own efforts and those of a compliant Justice Department restricted the civil rights of citizens and ignored constitutional restraints and/or international treaty obligations. The economy was in poor shape, and as we all are well aware only to get considerably worse.

Bush had assumed office after a questionable victory (his opponent, Al Gore, had won more popular votes) and by the decision of a single-vote conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which ignored legal precedent in delivering its verdict on who would be president.

The voters in 2004 had the opportunity to pass judgment on the Bush administration’s record and conceivably begin the long process of a democratic revitalization. This did not happen. In an unusually close election, Bush defeated Kerry at the end of a bitter campaign.

The consequence of this election is that the “unitary presidency” that rewrote executive and government powers was institutionalized. The subsequent election of Barak Obama in 2008 did not substantially challenge what President Bush had done and in fact expanded its scope in key areas of governing.

The book “A Defining Moment : the Presidential Election of 2004″ (2005) covers all of these issues and attempts to bring into focus the nature of the campaign, the voting coalitions supporting each candidate, the severity of the institutional threat that had taken place during the previous four years and the importance of an electoral verdict that went a long way in establishing as acceptable expansion of presidential authority.

I am very pleased by the recognition of the importance of the book by CHOICE, in its inclusion in “Camelot to Gridlock” Significant CHOICE Reviews on the Presidency” (June, 2012)”.

-William Crotty

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