The Postmodern Presidency: Bill Clinton's Legacy in U. S. Politics / Edition 1

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As America’s first truly postmodern president, Bill Clinton experienced both great highs and stunning lows in office that will shape the future course of American politics. Clinton will forever be remembered as the first elected president to be impeached, but will his tarnished legacy have lasting effects on America’s political system?

Including the conflict in Kosovo, the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, and new developments in the 2000 presidential campaign, The Postmodern Presidency is the most comprehensive and current assessment of Bill Clinton’s presidency available in print.

The book examines Clinton’s role in redefining the institution of the presidency, and his affect on future presidents’ economic and foreign policies. The contributors highlight the president’s unprecedented courtship of public opinion; how polls affected policy; how the president gained “celebrity” status; how Clinton’s “postmodern” style of public presidency helped him survive the 1994 elections and impeachment; and how all of this might impact future presidents.

This new text also demonstrates how the Clinton presidency changed party politics in the public and in Congress, with long-term implications and costs to both Republicans and his own Democratic party, while analyzing Clinton’s effect on the 1990s “culture wars,” the politics and importance of gender, and the politics and policy of race.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Schier . . . has very ably edited what is certainly going to be one of many academic retrospectives of the Clinton presidency. . . . This book would make an especially timely and valuable collection fo undergraduate courses on the presidency.”
Schier (political science, Carleton College) is joined by dozens of American political specialists to examine Bill Clinton's role in redefining the institution of the presidency. Articles explore Clinton's economic and foreign policy, his courting of public opinion and dependence on polls, his relationship with the Republican party, and his role in racial and gender politics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From The Critics
(HC)0822957426 (SC)How President Clinton—a "shape-shifter" on policy issues and the possessor of a character weak enough to have probably destroyed former presidencies—has been able to survive and prosper as a "new Democrat" in a decidedly Republican political environment, is the perplexing theme pondered here by twelve, respected political scientists and one journalist. The Clinton administration, the contributors agree, will be remembered as a postmodern presidential era, a time of divided government that called for a leader without a strong ideology or partisan commitments, notes Bruce Miroff, in a lucid essay that defines postmodernism. Clinton has survived because of declining public expectations about character and not because he is viewed as a moral leader. His policy of "shape-shifting" led the president to not only endure the gays in the military, health care fiascoes, and the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, but also proudly proclaim in his second term the end of the era of big government. The postmodern president becomes whatever the public wants him to be at any given time. Journalist John Harris credits Clinton with creating the permanent campaign, which Schier concludes, is, for better or worse, Clinton's most enduring legacy. The permanent campaigner makes no distinction between campaigning and the act of governing. Policies—much like elections—are crafted around polls and issues appealing to special interests. Richard Morris, Clinton's controversial pollster, promoted the successful triangulation strategy, whereby the president gained support for his policies by assuming a postmodern centrist position that co-opted Republican policies, all too frequently at the electoral expense of his natural liberal constituency. John Coleman refines postmodernism by joining it with the model of the preemptive president, presented by Stephen Skowronek in his important The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to George Bush (Harvard, 1993). Skowronek defines a preemptive president as one not allied with the current policy regime, in this case, Coleman notes, a Democratic president squaring off with a Republican House and Senate. Clinton has enjoyed preemptive success by skillfully triangulating between the agendas of both parties. The 1990s, however, were not years of a Democratic ascendancy, despite Clinton's two terms, states Nicol Rae. Republicans not only gained control of Congress but also a large majority of state governorships. Even state legislatures, once solidly Democratic bastions, are now as likely to be Republican as Democrat. Rae concludes that Clinton has left no enduring legacy for the Democrats: the perilous postmodern landscape of divided government and parties divorced from the needs of voters is what remains. Other contributors assess Clinton's postmodern economic foreign policy, gender and minority group legacies, and the still uncertain impact of his failed impeachment. This fine collection of first appraisals will not be the final explication of the Clinton era, but will serve as an important source for those that follow.
From The Critics
The Postmodern Presidency: Bill Clinton's Legacy In U.S. Politics examines Clinton's role in redefining the institution of the presidency, and his affect on future presidents' economic and foreign policies. The contributors focus on the president's unprecedented courtship of public opinion; how pools affected policy; how the president gained "celebrity" status; how Clinton's "postmodern" style of public presidency helped him survive the 1994 elections and impeachment; and how all of this might impact upon future holders of the office. The Postmodern Presidency also demonstrates how the Clinton presidency changed party politics in the public and in Congress, with long-term implications and costs to both Republicans and Democrats, while analyzing Clinton's effect on the 1990s "culture wars", the politics and importance of gender, and the politics and policy of race. A strongly recommended addition to 20th century political science and American political history reading lists and reference collections, The Postmodern Presidency is informative, engaging, insightful, and thought-provoking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822957423
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Political Science Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Unique Presidency 1
Part I The Presidency and Public Policy 17
Chapter 1 Bill Clinton and the Institutionalized Presidency: Executive Autonomy and Presidential Leadership 19
Chapter 2 Clinton, Class, and Economic Policy 41
Chapter 3 Clinton and Foreign Policy: Some Legacies for a New Century 60
Part II The President and the Public 85
Chapter 4 A Clouded Mirror: Bill Clinton, Polls, and the Politics of Survival 87
Chapter 5 Courting the Public: Bill Clinton's Postmodern Education 106
Chapter 6 The Public's View of Clinton 124
Part III Parties and Party Alignments 143
Chapter 7 Clinton and the Party System in Historical Perspective 145
Chapter 8 Clinton and the Republican Party 167
Chapter 9 Clinton and the Democrats: The President as Party Leader 183
Part IV Cultural, Race, and Gender Politics 201
Chapter 10 Clinton, Impeachment, and the Culture Wars 203
Chapter 11 Clinton and Racial Politics 223
Chapter 12 The Clintons and Gender Politics 238
Conclusion: American Politics after Clinton 255
Notes 267
References 271
Contributors 291
Index 293
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