Power Play: The Bush Presidency and the Constitution

Power Play: The Bush Presidency and the Constitution

by James P. Pfiffner
     
 

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Following 9/11, the presidency of George W. Bush engaged in a two front offensive. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the administration aggressively prosecuted the War on Terror. At home, it targeted constraints on the power of the executive. Power Play lays bare the extent of this second campaign and explains why it will continue to threaten the future of republican

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Overview

Following 9/11, the presidency of George W. Bush engaged in a two front offensive. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the administration aggressively prosecuted the War on Terror. At home, it targeted constraints on the power of the executive. Power Play lays bare the extent of this second campaign and explains why it will continue to threaten the future of republican government if the other two branches do not assert their own constitutional prerogatives.

Praise for the hardcover edition

"This book offers a powerful counterpoise to recent defenses of presidential powers.... Pfiffner makes a convincing case that the stakes are none other than the preservation of 'the rule of law and the Constitution.' Recommended."
-- Choice

"Reveals the Bush administration's violations of longstanding, constitutionally mandated democratic principles."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Succinctly and convincingly lays out the historical backdrop for the development of our system of government, based on the rule of law, and just as convincingly presents his argument that the Bush administration has put that very system on a precipice."
-- Daily Kos

"When [Pfiffner] hones in on the particulars of overweening executive power, including examples from previous administrations, readers are well posed to understand and keep turning the pages. Highly recommended."
-- Library Journal

"An excellent, unusually important and necessary book that deserves a very broad and attentive audience."
-- Public Administration ReviewForeWord Magazine

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Public policy academic Pfiffner (George Mason Univ.; The Character Factor: How We Judge America's Presidents) addresses the Constitution's meticulously established system of checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial bodies-and shows how the current President has stepped over the limits placed there on executive power, specifically in relation to habeas corpus, definitions of torture, employing surveillance without warrant, and disregard of laws that the executive branch is charged with upholding. Pfiffner's first chapters give a deep but very clear introduction to the legal philosophies behind our Constitution, then introduce the Constitution itself as an evolution from thinkers and circumstances in Europe. When he homes in on the particulars of overweening executive power, including examples from previous administrations, readers are well posed to understand and keep turning the pages. Highly recommended for suitable collections.


—Margaret Heilbrun
From the Publisher

"Those wishing for a more detailed legal discussion of what went wrong during the Bush administration would do well to check out James P. Pfiffner's book, Power Play... [it] is well organized and makes compelling reading." —Stephen Griffin, Balkinization blog

"This book should deeply trouble any citizen. In a clear, fair-minded review of the evidence, Pfiffner builds a powerful case pointing toward one unmistakable conclusion: since 9/11 the claims and actions of the Bush administration have been undermining the constitutional principles and rule of law on which our Republic is based." —Hugh Heclo, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University

"This is the right book, at the right time, by the right author. It is clear, dispassionate, and straightforward. A key strength is the manner in which Pfiffner interweaves historical and theoretical perspectives with his contemporary critique of Bush doctrine. Power Play epitomizes the best of Brookings Press's many distinguished titles that apply superb political science to contemporary problems and issues." —Robert J. Spitzer, author of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers

"This book offers a powerful counterpoise to recent defenses of presidential powers... Pfiffner makes a convincing case that the stakes are none other than the preservation of "rule of law and the Constitution." Recommended." — CHOICE

" Power Play is meticulously researched, engagingly written, and passionately argued. Its essential argument is that the United States was formed as a reaction to monarchy, and that U.S. presidents —no matter the threat against America —were never meant to have the power of kings. As long as diligent scholars such as Pfiffner are around, they won't." —Carl M.Cannon, co-author of Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy

" Power Play succinctly and convincingly lays out the historical backdrop for the development of our system of government, based on the rule of law, and just as convincingly presents his argument that the Bush administration has put that very system on precipice.... Pfiffner's book should be required reading for every Member of Congress, if for nothing else than to refresh their collective memory of just what that oath of office they take means." — Daily Kos

"With his customary thoughtfulness and scholarly integrity, Jim Pfiffner has examined the post-9/11 events, analyzed the legal arguments offered by the administration, and with great precision cut through to the central issues that should concern us all. A very important contribution to reviving constitutional government." —Louis Fisher, author of Presidential War Power

"Pfiffner's first chapters give a deep but very clear introduction to the legal philosophies behind our Constitution, then introduce the Constitution itself as an evolution from thinkers and circumstances in Europe. When he homes in on the particulars of overweening executive power, including examples from previous administrations, readers are well posed to understand and keep turning the pages. Highly recommended for suitable collections." — Library Journal

" Power Play is an accessible account of some of the ways in which the Bush Administration has advanced controversial claims about executive power and why their actions are constitutionally dangerous. The book should appeal to scholars of American politics, the presidency, and public law." — Law & Politics Book Review

" Power Play should be required reading for everyone with an interest in U.S. public administration. [It] is an excellent, unusually important and necessary book that deserves a very broad and attentive audience." — Public Administration Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815770442
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
05/28/2008
Pages:
299
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Robert J. Spitzer
"This is the right book, at the right time, by the right author. It is clear, dispassionate, and straightforward. A key strength is the manner in which Pfiffner interweaves historical and theoretical perspectives with his contemporary critique of Bush doctrine. Power Play epitomizes the best of Brookings Press's many distinguished titles that apply superb political science to contemporary problems and issues."--(Robert J. Spitzer, author of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers)
Louis Fisher
"With his customary thoughtfulness and scholarly integrity, Jim Pfiffner has examined the post-9/11 events, analyzed the legal arguments offered by the administration, and with great precision cut through to the central issues that should concern us all. A very important contribution to reviving constitutional government."--(Louis Fisher, author of Presidential War Power)
Hugh Heclo
"This book should deeply trouble any citizen. In a clear, fair-minded review of the evidence, Pfiffner builds a powerful case pointing toward one unmistakable conclusion: since 9/11 the claims and actions of the Bush administration have been undermining the constitutional principles and rule of law on which our Republic is based. "--(Hugh Heclo, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University)
From the Publisher

"This book should deeply trouble any citizen. In a clear, fair-minded review of the evidence, Pfiffner builds a powerful case pointing toward one unmistakable conclusion: since 9/11 the claims and actions of the Bush administration have been undermining the constitutional principles and rule of law on which our Republic is based." —Hugh Heclo, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University

"This is the right book, at the right time, by the right author. It is clear, dispassionate, and straightforward. A key strength is the manner in which Pfiffner interweaves historical and theoretical perspectives with his contemporary critique of Bush doctrine. Power Play epitomizes the best of Brookings Press's many distinguished titles that apply superb political science to contemporary problems and issues." —Robert J. Spitzer, author of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers

Carl M. Cannon
"Power Play is meticulously researched, engagingly written, and passionately argued. Its essential argument is that the United States was formed as a reaction to monarchy, and that U.S. presidents-no matter the threat against America-were never meant to have the power of kings. As long as diligent scholars such as Pfiffner are around, they won't."--(Carl M. Cannon, co-author of Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy)

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