Bridging the Constitutional Divide: Inside the White House Office of Legislative Affairs

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Overview

In September 2003, seven former heads of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs gathered for the first time ever to compare their experiences working for every president from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. For two days, these congressional liaisons, charged with moving their respective presidents’ legislative agendas through an independent—and sometimes hostile—Congress, shared first-hand views of the intricacies of presidential-congressional relations: how it works, how it doesn’t work, and the fascinating interplay of personalities, events, and politics that happens along the way.

Hosted by noted presidential scholar Russell Riley and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, this seminar also featured a number of invited scholars of American politics, including the eminent Richard E. Neustadt, who appeared just before his death a month later.

As explained by Riley, “. . . these discussions enlighten in two ways: they provide us a revealing glimpse into the inside, usually hidden, business of Washington, and they afford us the considered reflections of a thoughtful group of political veterans.” What makes these exchanges especially compelling, however, is their bipartisan cast, with Republicans Max L. Friedersdorf, William L. Ball III, and Frederick McClure joining Democrats Frank Moore, Charles M. Brain, John Hilley, and Lawrence Stein in thoughtful and friendly conversation.
 

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Editorial Reviews

American University Library

"A commentary on the modern and evolving relationship between the American presidency and Congress. Key struggles between the two consitutional powers are highlighted and discussed, sometimes with analytical appreciation, and other times with entertaining and illuminating anecdotes."

"Many of the observations are priceless kernels of political wisdom, and are delivered with authority given the years of experience which accompany them."

"Scholars of the presidency and Congress will enjoy this volume, and may utilize its stories and observations as empirical building blocks for more theoretical pursuits."

"Any interested observer of American politics will find it easily accessible, insightful, and politically relevant"

— Colleen J. Shogan

Congressional Research Service

"A commentary on the modern and evolving relationship between the American presidency and Congress. Key struggles between the two constitutionl powers are highlighted and discussed, someitmes with analytical appreciation, and other times with entertaining and illuminating anecdotes."

"The book covers a wide range of topics. The duties of serving as a CL are front and center, along with the primary goal of getting the president's program passed on the Hill. The participants discussed at length the difficulties of maintaining a semblance of party discipline in Congress, including a revealing conversation about how presidents attempt to influence close floor votes."

"Many of the observations are priceless kernels of political wisdom, and are delievered with authority given the years of experience which accompany them."

"Scholars of the presidency and Congress will enjoy this volume, and may utilize its stories and observations as empirical building blocks for more theoretical pursuits."

"Any interested observer of Americna politics will find it easily accessible, insightful, and politically relevant."

— Colleen J. Shogan

American University Library - Colleen J. Shogan
"A commentary on the modern and evolving relationship between the American presidency and Congress. Key struggles between the two constitutionl powers are highlighted and discussed, someitmes with analytical appreciation, and other times with entertaining and illuminating anecdotes.""The book covers a wide range of topics. The duties of serving as a CL are front and center, along with the primary goal of getting the president's program passed on the Hill. The participants discussed at length the difficulties of maintaining a semblance of party discipline in Congress, including a revealing conversation about how presidents attempt to influence close floor votes.""Many of the observations are priceless kernels of political wisdom, and are delievered with authority given the years of experience which accompany them.""Scholars of the presidency and Congress will enjoy this volume, and may utilize its stories and observations as empirical building blocks for more theoretical pursuits.""Any interested observer of Americna politics will find it easily accessible, insightful, and politically relevant."
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Russell L. Riley is associate professor and chair of the Miller Center’s Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia. A resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

 

 

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