The Paradoxes of the American Presidency


In the second edition of this acclaimed book, Cronin and Genovese explore the complex institution of the American presidency by presenting a series of paradoxes that shape and define the office. They examine the clashing expectations and demands placed upon presidents, offering students the opportunity to understand the dilemma faced by all incumbents -- how to bring leadership into a system where expectations exceed the resources and power available to them. The authors focus on the various relationships all ...
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In the second edition of this acclaimed book, Cronin and Genovese explore the complex institution of the American presidency by presenting a series of paradoxes that shape and define the office. They examine the clashing expectations and demands placed upon presidents, offering students the opportunity to understand the dilemma faced by all incumbents -- how to bring leadership into a system where expectations exceed the resources and power available to them. The authors focus on the various relationships all presidents must develop if they are to lead successfully -- relations between the president and: Congress, the public, the courts, the cabinet, and the Vice President. This book also treats the managerial side of the executive branch, the vagaries of the selection process, and the inherent contradictions of leadership in a democratic system. This new edition has been thoroughly revised and updated to include the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 election, the first three years of the Bush presidency, the events and aftermath of September 11, and the war with Iraq. Written in a lively, engaging style, this comprehensive, interpretive work represents the collaboration of two prize-winning presidential scholars.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two of the foremost scholars of the American presidency provide a welcome expanded update of Cronin's highly regarded The State of the Presidency 1980. The presidency is loaded with paradoxes that make the job arduous under the best of circumstances. The public wants a strong president but is suspicious of power; it yearns for a leader who is heroic yet has the common touch; and it demands bold visions but at low social and economic costs. These paradoxes and others provide the framework for this comprehensive survey of the presidency and its interactions with Congress, political parties, the Supreme Court, the cabinet, and, most important, the public. As safeguards of presidential accountability, the authors recommend the cautious use of independent counsels, limiting "soft" money campaign contributions, giving free television time to major candidates, and healthy political parties. Their informative examination is highly recommended for all public and academic presidential studies collections and remains a required text for serious students of the presidency.Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Interpreting the American presidency in terms of the paradoxes that shape and define it, the authors see the presidency as an elastic, constantly evolving office that is dynamic, variable, and often contradictory, and as a result, defies simple explanations. They discuss the office in terms of elections; presidential power, leadership, and accountability; and the chief executive's relations with Congress, political parties, the cabinet, the Supreme Court, and the vice-president. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

(on the first edition)

"One of the most clarifying and brilliant books on presidential leadership. . . . a modern classic."--Warren Bennis, University of Southern California

"I found [the] paradoxes tremendously illuminating and beautifully set forth. . . . A wonderful achievement."--James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer Prize winning presidential biographer and historian

"A provocative, fresh, and enlightening examination of the American presidency."--David Gray Adler, Idaho State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199861040
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/13/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 888,849
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Authors:
Thomas E. Cronin is a noted political scientist and writer who has written widely on American government. His books include The State of the Presidency; Direct Democracy; and he is coauthor of the best-selling text Government by the People. He serves as President of Whitman College. Michael A. Genovese is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies. He is the author of The Presidential Dilemma, The Presidency in an Age of Limits, and other books.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Presidential Paradoxes
Paradox #1
Americans want decisive leadership, yet we distrust authority and fear the abuse of power.
Paradox #2
We yearn for the democratic "common person" who also has an uncommon genius, charisma, and star quality.
Paradox #3
We want a decent, caring, and compassionate president, yet we admire a cunning, guileful, and, on occasions that warrant it, even a ruthless, manipulative president.
Paradox #4
We admire an "above politics," nonpartisan, bipartisan, or "postpartisan" style of leadership, and yet the presidency is perhaps the most political office in the American political system: it requires an entrepreneurial master politician. Similarly, we want presidents who can both unify us and make the necessary bold and unpopular decisions that are likely to upset us.
Paradox #5
We want our presidents to provide visionary, innovative, programmatic leadership and at the same time to respond pragmatically to the will of public opinion majorities; that is, presidents must lead and follow, educate and listen.
Paradox #6
Americans want resolute, self-confident presidential leadership. Yet we are inherently suspicious of leaders who are arrogant, above criticism, and unwilling to learn from mistakes. We want presidents, in other words, with strong but not swollen egos.
Paradox #7
What and who it takes to become president may not be what and who are needed to govern the nation.
Paradox #8
Presidents are order affirming, order shattering, and order creating.
Paradox #9
Rich states in presidential elections tend to vote for the Democratic candidate, while poor states tend to vote Republican, yet rich voters generally vote Republican and have done so for decades.
Chapter 2. How We Evaluate Presidents
What the Framers Expected?
What Was Expected in the Nineteenth Century?
Public Expectations toward Presidents in Recent Times
Qualities Americans Look For in Presidents
Leadership the Public Wants
How Americans Judge Incumbent Presidents
Why Disapproval Ratings Rise
What Can a President Do?
How the Public Judges Presidents
How Experts Judge Presidents
Can We Predict Presidential Effectiveness?
What Is Presidential Greatness?
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 3. How We Elect Presidents
Who Becomes President?
Why Voters Vote the Way They Do
The Invisible Primary
Presidential Primaries
National Conventions
Incumbency: Advantage or Disadvantage?
Incumbency and the Obama Presidency: Lame Duck, Sitting Duck, or Dead Duck?
General Elections: What Matters?
The Electoral College Debate
How the Electoral College Works Today
The Case for Retaining the Electoral College
The Case against the Electoral College
The Case for the Direct Election of Presidents
From Election to Governing
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 4. Presidential Power and Leadership
The Moods and Cycles of American Politics
The Vagaries of Presidential Power
Unresolved Questions
Persuasion and Power
Power-Maximizing Strategies
Presidential Leadership
The Building Blocks of Presidential Leadership
Political Timing
The "Conditions" of Power
Are We Too Presidency-Centric?
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 5. The Presidential Job Description in a System of Shared Powers
The Presidency as Defined and Debated in 1787
The Presidency as Redefined by Washington and His Successors
The Presidency as Redefined by FDR and the Modern Presidents
The Job of the Modern President
The Foreign Affairs Presidency
The Economic Presidency
The Domestic Presidency
The Multidimensional Presidency
Crisis Management
Symbolic, Morale-Building, and Shamanistic Leadership
Vision, Priority Setting, and Program Design
Recruitment Leadership
Legislative and Political Coalition Building
Policy Implementation and Evaluation
Oversight and Early-Warning System
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 6. Presidents and Congress
Separate Institutions/Shared Powers
The President's Constitutional Place
The Politics of Shared Power
The President in the Legislative Arena
Parties and Presidents: An Awkward Alliance
The "No Party" Presidency
Presidents and Use of Party Appeal in Congress
The Presidential Veto
Presidents and Congress in Foreign Affairs
Bush, the Congress, and Iraq
The "Imperial Presidency" Argument
Presidential War-Making Powers Before 1974
The Continuing Debate over War Powers
Confirmation Politics
Fusing What the Framers Separated
The Continuing Struggle
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 7. Presidents as Chief Executives: Challenges and Resources
Presidents and the Cabinet
Selecting Cabinet Advisers
The Job of a Cabinet Member
The West Wing Wants Loyalty along with Competence
The Role of the Cabinet in Policymaking
A Cabinet of Unequals
The Inner Cabinet
A National Security Cabinet
Attorneys General
Treasury Secretary
The Outer Cabinet
Outer-Cabinet Isolation
The Rise of the Administrative Presidency
The Executive Office of the President, Continued
The President's Spouse
The White House Staff
White House Chief of Staff
National Security Adviser
The Chief White House Political Counselor
White House Press Secretary
Advocacy Conflicts
Dealing with the Bureaucracy
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 8. The American Vice Presidency
Traditional Problems
President of the Senate
Vice Presidents as "Assistant Presidents"
Psychological Problems or the "Throttlebottom Complex"
The Mondale Experience
The George H. W. Bush Experience
The Gore Experience
The Dick Cheney Vice Presidency
The Biden Vice Presidency
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 9. Presidents and the Court
Presidential Nominations to the Court
Confirmation Battles
Wayward Justices
The Temptation to Move beyond The Law
The President's Emergency Power
Presidential Action in Times of Emergency Court Decisions and Presidential Power
Presidential Losses before The Supreme Court
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Chapter 10. The Future of the American Presidency
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Holding Presidents to Account
The Presidency and Democratic Theory
"Votes of No Confidence?"
What About a "President's Question Hour in Congress"?
A Third Party to the Rescue?
Should We Repeal the Twenty-second (Two-term Limit) Amendment?
Should Presidents Be Granted an Item Veto?
Limiting the President's War Powers
The Ultimate Check: Impeachment and Removal
Campaign Finance Reform--Again
Accountability in an Age of Terrorism
The Necessity for Politics and Democratic Accountability
For Discussion
Debate Questions
Internet Links
Selected Bibliography
Presidential Election Results

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