The Presidential Road Show: Public Leadership in an Era of Party Polarization and Media Fragmentation

Overview

In The Presidential Road Show: Public Leadership in a Partisan Era, Diane J. Heith evaluates presidential leadership by critically examining a fundamental tenet of the presidency: the national nature of the office. The fact that the entire nation votes for the office seemingly imbues the presidency with leadership opportunities that rest on appeals to the mass public. Yet, presidents earn the office not by appealing to the nation but rather by assembling a coalition of supporters, predominantly partisans. ...
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Overview

In The Presidential Road Show: Public Leadership in a Partisan Era, Diane J. Heith evaluates presidential leadership by critically examining a fundamental tenet of the presidency: the national nature of the office. The fact that the entire nation votes for the office seemingly imbues the presidency with leadership opportunities that rest on appeals to the mass public. Yet, presidents earn the office not by appealing to the nation but rather by assembling a coalition of supporters, predominantly partisans. Moreover, once in office, recent presidents have had trouble controlling their message in the fragmented media environment. Analyses of presidential behavior belie the presence of national leadership. Presidents give fewer addresses to the nation, preferring instead to speak in smaller, local venues. In addition, these efforts at “going public” barely influence public opinion or congressional action. Using a data set containing not only speech content but also the classification of the audience, Diane J. Heith finds that rhetorical leadership is constituency driven and targets different audiences at different times and in different places. Moreover, the scope of electoral victory influences presidential leadership strategies. Comparing tone, content, and tactics of national and local speeches reveals that presidents are abandoning national “going public” strategies in favor of local leadership efforts that may be tailored to the variety of political contexts a president must confront.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594518508
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2013
  • Series: Media and Power
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane J. Heith is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Government and Politics at St. John’s University. She is the author of Polling to Govern: Public Opinion and Presidential Leadership, coauthor of American Presidents and the Presidency, and coeditor of In the Public Domain: Presidents and the Challenges of Public Leadership. Her work has appeared in Public Opinion Quarterly, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, The Journal of Women, Politics and Policy, and Congress and the Presidency.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Redefining Presidential Leadership
Chapter 2 The Depth and Breadth of National Leadership
Chapter 3 A National President: Bill Clinton
Chapter 4 A Constrained President: George W. Bush
Chapter 5 An Obstructed President: Barack Obama
Chapter 6 Changing Tactics, Improving Outcomes?
Chapter 7 Alternate Models of Leadership
Chapter 8 Presidential Leadership for the Twenty-First Century
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