Overreach: Leadership in the Obama Presidency

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Overview

"George Edwards has written a cogently argued, data-driven analysis of the Obama administration's failure to appreciate the opportunities and limitations of exercising power in the American political system. In the process, Edwards shows the relevancy of his and other scholarship for presidents, their advisers, and serious students of the American presidency."—Stephen J. Wayne, Georgetown University

"George Edwards is our leading analyst of the probabilities of presidential power. He shows that presidents are most effective at the margins, when they exploit existing opportunities rather than when they try to build new coalitions. And when they succeed (as with Obamacare) they might well be careful what they wish for. This book is a superb analysis of Obama's leadership style, and is essential reading for White House counselors."—Richard Pious, Barnard College

"In this provocative, accessible, and timely volume, George Edwards presents a sobering analysis not just of the Obama presidency, but of the very possibility of transformative political change. Overreach constitutes a valuable reminder that what the public expects of presidents, and what presidents expect of themselves, often amounts to a gross exaggeration of what is genuinely possible. Moreover, this book argues, presidents who proceed undaunted risk paying a significant political cost."—William G. Howell, University of Chicago

"Presidents facing criticism or difficulties—which is to say, all of them—normally blame their problems on a failure to communicate rather than their own policy choices. With a special focus on Barack Obama, though, Overreach shows us that presidential choices are the key, since attempts to use communication skills to change hearts and minds are largely doomed to failure. Fluently written, this book provides both a good read and important claims to consider."—Andrew Rudalevige, Dickinson College

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Obama’s team entered office under the assumption that “the recession left public opinion malleable and highly responsive to bold leadership,” but this study of Obama’s efforts to achieve too much too quickly shows how wrong this belief was. Political scientist Edwards (The Strategic President), a presidency scholar at Texas A&M, points out that given the recession, Bush’s massive TARP program, and several industry bailouts, a risk averse public was wary of new governmental initiatives. Using the bruising and barely won battle over health care reform as a case study, he reveals that a plurality of the public never favored it while the president has had difficulty framing the debate against a welter of competing media voices. Edwards’s analysis is particularly strong on the collapse of bipartisanship in Congress, and he marshals an impressive amount of data on public opinion and congressional voting records. However, his overall thesis that presidents “are not in strong positions to create opportunities for legislative success” but must use existing opportunities, is not fully fleshed out. He also falls short by ending with a discussion of the 2011 debt ceiling showdown instead of potential ways for Obama’s administration to move forward. Despite such omissions, this remains a clear, well-documented study of the limits on presidential power and influence. (Apr.)
Organiser
A valuable addition to the understanding of US polity.
— R. Balashankar
Organiser - R. Balashankar
A valuable addition to the understanding of US polity.
Choice
In Overreach, Edwards applies 'lessons learned' from his previous work on presidential leadership to the Obama presidency. Edwards argues that presidents do not create political opportunities, but must identify political openings and capitalize on existing political opportunities. . . . A readable book that will find a home in undergraduate courses on the U.S. presidency.
Books and Ideas.net - Aurelie Godet
Overreach is a clear and instructive essay, which, with an impressive amount of data (polls, television audience statistics, Congressional voting, and so on), confirms the arguments Edwards has been making since 2003.
Books and Ideas.net - Aurélie Godet
Overreach is a clear and instructive essay, which, with an impressive amount of data (polls, television audience statistics, Congressional voting, and so on), confirms the arguments Edwards has been making since 2003.
American Review of Politics - Richard W. Waterman
For more than two decades George C. Edwards has been carefully laying out a clear and consistently articulated argument about the nature of American politics. . . . Edwards's body of work is interesting in that each book builds upon the others. His newest book, Overreach: Leadership in the Obama Presidency, links his prior insights together and extends them into an analysis and critique of one incumbent president, Barack Obama.
From the Publisher
"[A] clear, well-documented study of the limits on presidential power and influence."—
Publishers Weekly

"A valuable addition to the understanding of US polity."—R. Balashankar, Organiser

"In Overreach, Edwards applies 'lessons learned' from his previous work on presidential leadership to the Obama presidency. Edwards argues that presidents do not create political opportunities, but must identify political openings and capitalize on existing political opportunities. . . . A readable book that will find a home in undergraduate courses on the U.S. presidency."—
Choice

"Overreach is a clear and instructive essay, which, with an impressive amount of data (polls, television audience statistics, Congressional voting, and so on), confirms the arguments Edwards has been making since 2003."—Aurlie Godet, Books and Ideas.net

"For more than two decades George C. Edwards has been carefully laying out a clear and consistently articulated argument about the nature of American politics. . . . Edwards's body of work is interesting in that each book builds upon the others. His newest book, Overreach: Leadership in the Obama Presidency, links his prior insights together and extends them into an analysis and critique of one incumbent president, Barack Obama."—Richard W. Waterman, American Review of Politics

"This book can stand on its own as a worthy case study of what to do and to avoid as America's most well-known and influential policy maker. I recommend this book for those who want to understand the contemporary Presidency and its relationship with Congress as it really is."—Gino J. Tozzi, Jr., Political Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691153681
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,021,880
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

George C. Edwards III is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and the Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University. His many books include "The Strategic President." He is the editor of "Presidential Studies Quarterly."

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: Assessing Opportunities: Public Support 9
Chapter 2: Creating Opportunities? Going Public 36
Chapter 3: Evaluating Strategic Choices: Leading the Public 80
Chapter 4: Assessing Opportunities: Congressional Support 116
Chapter 5: Creating Opportunities? Leading Congress 135
Chapter 6: Evaluating Strategic Choices: Passing Legislation 157
Chapter 7: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership 179
Notes 189
Index 225

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