Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations / Edition 4

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The first President Bush faced a long-entrenched Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. The first term Clinton entered into a unified government for the first time in many years, but all that changed in the midterm elections of 1994. The second President Bush faces a closely divided government whose balance could shift at any time. Through it all, the Presidential-Congressional rivalry continues unabated. What is it about the institutional relationship between Congress and the Presidency that ensures conflict even in the face of necessary cooperation? Here, well-known scholars and practitioners of Congressional-Presidential relations come together to explore both branches of government and what unites as well as divides them. Highlights include chapters on budgetary politics in a time of surplus, the impacts of campaign message and election mandates, and Congressional-Presidential relations during transitions. Case studies of budget battles, health care task forces, and armed conflicts in foreign lands lend concrete detail to political theory. First hand experience on the Hill and in the Oval Office—and everywhere in between—is reflected in each chapter. Although nothing can rival election 2000 for its challenges to both Congress and the Presidency, "Rivals For Power" shows how even an extraordinary electoral result is subject to the rules and rigors of Washington's built-in rivalry.

Author Biography: James A. Thurber is professor of government and founder and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

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Editorial Reviews

Norman Ornstein
This collection of smart, insightful essays by an impressive combination of Washington insiders and top political scholars gives a lively and penetrating view of the contemporary relationship between the presidency and congress. It is a terrific resource for students, researchers and political practitioners.
April 2010 CHOICE
Burdett A. Loomis
Once again, Jim Thurber has pulled together a first-rate and diverse set of scholars to examine the perennial tensions between the branches. While partisanship has often taken over the spotlight in analyses of American politics over the past twenty years, inter-branch relationships remain extraordinarily important in explaining cooperation, or its absence. With their differing vantage points and perspectives, these congressional and presidential experts offer a winning combination of specific and general observations, provided with the nuance we’ve come to expect from this consistently excellent volume.
David T. Canon
This excellent collection of essays by many of the leading scholars in the field provides a roadmap for understanding
Presidential/Congressional relations at the turn of the century. Using a variety of research approaches and covering a broad range of topics, these authors tackle the central problems of governing in an era of divided partisan control of Washington.
Susan Page
President Clinton's impeachment and the remarkable 2000 election underscore the continuing, complicated competition between the White House and Congress. James Thurber's Rivals for Power is written not only by those who study the history of Washington policy-making, but also those who helped create that history. Foreign policy negotiations are seen through the eyes of a former House Foreign Affairs chairman; federal spending by a former Budget director; building congressional alliances by a former top White House aide charged with doing just that. This insider's guide is thoughtful, readable, and sometimes surprising—an invaluable resource for scholars, students, journalists, C-SPAN addicts, and political junkies of all stripes.
Roger B. Porter
This outstanding collection of original essays provides genuine insights into the historical and current relationship of the President and Congress from both leading scholars and practitioners. Fresh, challenging, and filled with many gems this volume should be read by students and by policy makers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Nelson W. Polsby
The newspapers and television news are filled with stories about gridlock and rivalry between Congress and the presidency. But only in good political science such as is practiced by James Thurber and his colleagues can readers see the historical, political, and constitutional foundations of conflict between the political branches and learn to appreciate the political skills that underpin cooperative policy-making in the American political system.
Jasmine Farrier
This collection illuminates and connects the policy, partisan, institutional, and constitutional conflicts that shape current inter-branch dynamics.
Richard J. Gelm
Thurber again brings together some of the finest research on presidential and congressional relations and provides an excellent assessment of the confrontational relationship between these contending government branches. Rich in historical and contemporary analysis, Rivals for Power is an essential text for courses on the Congress and the Presidency and for those seeking deeper insight into the partisan gridlock in Washington and practical recommendations for ways to achieve cooperation.
Robert D. Knight
Students in my Congress and the Presidency course have benefited greatly from James Thurber’s excellent edited volume on presidential-congressional relations. Each reading has stimulated critical thinking and led to engaging classroom discussions. The new Fifth Edition continues the book’s focus on recent scholarship in historical and constitutional perspective, all in accessible form for upper-division undergraduates while still valuable for graduate students. In the field of presidential-congressional relations, currency is essential for making the readings relevant to students. The new edition will have eleven new chapters from leading scholars of presidential-congressional relations, many of whom previously contributed to the Fourth Edition. Most of these new contributions focus on presidential-congressional relations during the Obama Administration. Professor Thurber adds to the new edition a valuable concluding chapter that brings the readings together with a focus on the need for reform. The Fifth Edition continues and improves on an essential resource for any course on presidential-congressional relations.
Inc. Book News
Fifteen chapters, presented by Thurber, explore the dynamics of presidential-congressional rivalry in the United States, largely focusing on the current moment and relations between President Obama and Congress, but mindful of historical precedents and comparative issues. Topics include Obama's first term legislative achievements, the impacts of political polarization of presidential-congressional relations, changes in executive branch size and organization in the 21st century, the impact of "political time" (the ways terms in office can define the makeup of congress over shorter or longer periods) on inter-branch relations, the impact of hyperpartisanship on Obama's relations with congressional party leaderships, the role of interest groups, the role of the media, the battle between Obama and the Congress over the federal budget, the politics of federal regulation, presidential-congressional relations in foreign policy, the congressional perspective on inter-branch relations, and the presidential use of unilateral action.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742561427
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/16/2009
  • Edition description: Fourth Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

1 An Introduction to Presidential-Congressional Rivalry 1
2 The President and Congress at the Turn of the Century: Structural Sources of Conflict 27
3 Presidential Leadership of Congress: A Functional and Institutional History 49
4 The Presidency and Congressional Leadership 71
5 The Impact of Campaigns on Presidential-Congressional Relations 89
6 Presidential Influence on Congress: New Solutions to Old Problems 105
7 Successful Influence: Managing Legislative Affairs in the Twenty-first Century 141
8 Herding Cats: Presidential Coalition Building in the Senate 163
9 Politics of the Federal Budget Process 185
10 The Making of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Roles of the President and Congress over Four Decades 207
11 Clinton's Military Actions: No Rivals in Sight 229
12 Conclusions about Congressional-Presidential Rivalries 255
Index 271
About the Contributors 283
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