The 'Convenient' Environmental Presidency of George H.W. Bush: A Kingdonian Assessment

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Conference Proceeding

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Air pollution and climate change were two important environmental issues squarely confronting President George H.W. Bush when he took office. By the end of his term, the first problem had been addressed, the second had been sidestepped. Why the differing outcomes? In seeking an answer this question, we utilize Kingdon’s (1995) agenda setting framework. Using documentary evidence found in presidential archives, we find an Administration wrestling with divergent views and approaches as it sought to manage and manipulate the agenda setting process in both instances. Policy solutions to the problem of air pollution could be designed in a manner congruent with Administration preferences. However, the issue of global climate change was too large, complex, and ambiguous given the policy atmosphere of the Bush years, and too new, to be addressed in the ordinary flow of Washington’s political work.

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