Throughout his presidency, George Bush was accused by both Republicans and Democrats of having an administration utterly without a domestic policy agenda. Kolb, who served as the President's Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy, tried to push the Bush administration toward a more vigorous reform agenda. White House Daze is an often biting account of his efforts.
What happened to 'We are the Change' between 1988 and 1992? The answer to that question explains why George Bush was a one-term President.
During Bush’s term in office, the Party of new ideas had become the party of incumbency. Many Republicans now took for granted the "electoral lock", the Southern bloc, and Republican control of the executive branch. Their complacency was reinforced by the President's own high approval ratings through the first half of his term. Yet it's fair to say that for the first two years of the Bush Administration we were still spending down Ronald Reagan's inheritance. Even though the actual policies being implemented in many respects were really at odds with Reagan's core philosophy, the country had not woken up to the fact that under George Bush's stewardship federal spending (along with the deficit) was spiraling upward, taxes would start creeping up again, and regulatory policies would impose billions of dollars of new burdens on the public. This was 'change', alright, but the wrong kind of change.
A staunch conservative who served as George Bush's deputy assistant for domestic policy, the author here points fingers at the indecisive, visionless president and his process-obsessed advisers, who, in Kolb's view, missed the chance to implement a domestic agenda. This is a lively, frank and sometimes ideological insider's account of the Bush administration His first target is his boss, Roger Porter, portrayed as a hard-working perfectionist who got bogged down in minutiae. Porter's ineffectiveness allowed the rise of aggressive, ambitious Richard Darman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, whom Kolb blames for getting Bush to renege on his pledge not to raise taxes. The book claims that Darman opposed creative efforts to develop a ``New Paradigm'' approach to social policy and that Bush ignored education goals developed by his staff. Kolb also argues that euphoria over his popularity following the Gulf War led the president to put off for much too long addressing crucial social and economic questions and that the Republicans' tendency to blur their ideological differences with the Democrats cost Bush a second term.