The Strategic President: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership

The Strategic President: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership

by George C. Edwards III
     
 

How do presidents lead? If presidential power is the power to persuade, why is there a lack of evidence of presidential persuasion? George Edwards, one of the leading scholars of the American presidency, skillfully uses this contradiction as a springboard to examine--and ultimately challenge--the dominant paradigm of presidential leadership. The Strategic

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Overview

How do presidents lead? If presidential power is the power to persuade, why is there a lack of evidence of presidential persuasion? George Edwards, one of the leading scholars of the American presidency, skillfully uses this contradiction as a springboard to examine--and ultimately challenge--the dominant paradigm of presidential leadership. The Strategic President contends that presidents cannot create opportunities for change by persuading others to support their policies. Instead, successful presidents facilitate change by recognizing opportunities and fashioning strategies and tactics to exploit them.

Edwards considers three extraordinary presidents--Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan--and shows that despite their considerable rhetorical skills, the public was unresponsive to their appeals for support. To achieve change, these leaders capitalized on existing public opinion. Edwards then explores the prospects for other presidents to do the same to advance their policies. Turning to Congress, he focuses first on the productive legislative periods of FDR, Lyndon Johnson, and Reagan, and finds that these presidents recognized especially favorable conditions for passing their agendas and effectively exploited these circumstances while they lasted. Edwards looks at presidents governing in less auspicious circumstances, and reveals that whatever successes these presidents enjoyed also resulted from the interplay of conditions and the presidents' skills at understanding and exploiting them.

The Strategic President revises the common assumptions of presidential scholarship and presents significant lessons for presidents' basic strategies of governance.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691139470
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/17/2009
Pages:
270
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents


Preface ix

CHAPTER 1: Power as Persuasion 1

CHAPTER 2: Leading the Public: Best Test Cases 19

CHAPTER 3: Leading the Public: Exploiting Existing Opinion 61

CHAPTER 4: Leading Congress: Best Test Cases 110

CHAPTER 5: Leading Congress: Less Favorable Contexts 152

CHAPTER 6: Reassessing Leadership 188

Notes 201

Index 249

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