The Chameleon President
The Curious Case of George W. Bush
by Clarke Rountree
December 2011, 287pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39799-8
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39800-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A business crony. A Christian zealot. A privileged elitist. A cocky Texan. A far-seeing patriot. A moron, pure and simple. Which of these descriptions most accurately describes the man behind the awkward soundbites during George W. Bush’s eight years in the White House? Could all of these characterizations hold truth?

This book paints 11 different portraits of the many 'faces' of President George W. Bush, arguably the most controversial and fascinating modern American president, revealing the malleability of human motives and of Bush's motives in particular.

George W. Bush’s presidency was marred by some of the worst events in modern U.S. history: the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the events of September 11, 2001; the quagmire of the war in Iraq; widespread fear of terrorism; Hurricane Katrina and the government’s delayed, inefficient response; and the Patriot Act, which greatly increased the government’s ability to access citizens’ private information. Which of Bush’s characteristics, influences, or internal motivations were most responsible for this polarizing President’s attitudes and decisions?

This book presents 11 competing views of President George W. Bush. The Chameleon President: The Curious Case of George W. Bush does not endorse a particular view of Bush; it is up to the reader to decide which portrayal best explains the 43rd president’s surprisingly complex character as well as his political legacy. The author synthesizes popular claims from various sources to provide possible explanations for Bush’s seemingly contradictory characteristics. Examples of the influences considered include his intelligence, immaturity, and religious beliefs; his upbringing in West Texas; his misfortune to have been in charge during a terrorist attack and a rare natural disaster; his vice president; and his unstated agendas—political, business, and family-driven.

Clarke Rountree, PhD, is professor of communication arts at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL. He earned his doctorate in rhetorical studies from the University of Iowa in 1988. His published works include George W. Bush: A Biography; Brown v. Board of Education at Fifty: A Rhetorical Perspective; and Judging the Supreme Court: Constructions of Motives in Bush v. Gore, which won the 2009 Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism.


"Clarke Rountree takes us on a wild ride. His book swings for the fences. In The Chameleon President, Rountree gives us eleven different versions of George W. Bush as a challenge to our narrow and relatively closed methods of political analysis. Rountree believes that our present partisan analysis of political discourse has grown glib, stereotypical, predictable and unimaginative. His book is an attempt to pry open the jaws of political discourse by applying a powerful arsenal of perspectives that are well calculated to get genuine political analysis and discussion going again. This is not your father’s analysis of political rhetoric. Rountree’s multi-perspectival mode restores a sense of mystery, wonder and adventure to rhetorical scholarship." —Andrew King, Hopkins Professor of Communication, LSU
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