Guardian of the Presidency

Guardian of the Presidency: The Legacy of Richard E. Neustadt

Matthew J. Dickinson
Elizabeth A. Neustadt
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 217
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  • Book Info
    Guardian of the Presidency
    Book Description:

    As America's leading expert on the Presidency and an adviser to presidents from Harry S Truman to Bill Clinton, Richard E. Neustadt was "the most penetrating analyst of power since Machiavelli," as Guardian of the Presidency makes clear. In this inspirational book, Neustadt's former colleagues and students celebrate the rich and diverse contributions he made to political and academic life in the United States and beyond. JFK confidant Ted Sorensen, the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Harrison Wellford, formerly of the Office of Management and Budget, and Matthew Dickinson focus on his role as a White House adviser. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter highlights Neustadt's ability to interpret the Presidency for the outside world. Fellow scholars Ernest May, Charles O. Jones, Harvey Fineberg, and Graham Allison analyze his legacy as an educator and founding director of Harvard's Institute of Politics. Anthony King (Britain at the Polls) and Eric Redman (The Dance of Legislation) discuss his work in the United Kingdom and Brazil. Former Vice President Al Gore offers an appreciation of Neustadt's influence on generations of students. The book concludes with Elizabeth Neustadt's personal reflections about her father.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1843-7
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    When I was asked to write a foreword to this book, which brings to life a truly remarkable man, I was thrilled. For nearly forty years, from the spring of 1965, when he came to Harvard University while I was in my first year of graduate study, until his untimely death in 2003, Richard E. Neustadt played a central role in my life—as my teacher, mentor, and finally my friend. His friendship remains one of the most cherished memories of my life.

    Each of these chapters reveals a different aspect of the work of this gifted man who reached...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxii)
    M.J.D. and E.A.N.
  5. CHAPTER ONE “Placing” Richard E. Neustadt
    (pp. 1-13)

    For more than a quarter-century, from the 1960s almost to the 1990s, Dick Neustadt and I taught a course called The Uses of History at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 1986 we distilled from it the bookThinking in Time: Uses of History for Decision Makers

    The subject of the course and the book was how decisionmakers and those who work for them could analyze and take account of what had happened in the past without being trapped into seeing history as a source of legible “lessons.” We commenced and continued the course and wrote the book...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Practicum on the Presidency, 1946 to 1953
    (pp. 14-34)

    Dick Neustadt had a deep affection and abiding respect for the Presidency. Those feelings were nurtured by sixty years of public life in a succession of Presidency-related roles, from White House staffer to scholar to adviser-consultant to institution builder. Somewhere in this occupational progression, he assumed what became his defining role: guardian of the Presidency. In this capacity he exhibited grace, wisdom, and fidelity to the office that came to define his legacy.

    Sorensen’s death wish notwithstanding, this essay examines the roots of Neustadt’s leading role: his almost seven years, from 1946 to 1953, as a staff member in the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Scholar-Activist as Guardian: Dick Neustadt’s Presidency
    (pp. 35-51)

    Just over a year before his death, Dick Neustadt wrote of his perspective in regard to the role of scholars in presidential research over time:

    I may not be a “new” institutionalist, but I certainly am an “old” institutionalist. . . . We old institutionalists were deeply interested in the fine detail of organizational and procedural behavior, especially with respect to moments of major alteration in either or both, that is, to “change-points.” . . . I grant that it is hard to get the access I commanded from inside the Budget Bureau, free to roam its files and myself...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Avoiding the Hazards of Transition: Neustadt’s Lessons
    (pp. 52-74)

    On Inauguration Day at the United States Capitol, a new President is being sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, amid throngs of adoring supporters and the subdued rearguard of the outgoing administration. Change is in the air and for the moment, as President Reagan used to say, there is morning in America. Meanwhile down Pennsylvania Avenue in a large white house, there is an eerie calm. The halls are empty, doors to offices of the most powerful men and women in the world are left open, computers are unplugged and hard drives erased, papers are strewn...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. CHAPTER FIVE Two of JFK’s Aides Remember Kennedy’s Machiavelli
    (pp. 75-80)
    Theodore C.Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

    Theodore C. Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., two of President John F. Kennedy’s closest White House aides, provide intimate portraits of Richard E. Neustadt’s role as Kennedy’s Machiavelli, beginning with Neustadt’s service as one of Kennedy’s transition advisers in 1960 and 1961. But it would be a mistake to infer from the reference to Machiavelli that Neustadt’s applied lessons were intended to show JFK—or any president—how to gain power for its own sake. The crowning lesson Neustadt taught generations of students and political practitioners is that Presidents work within a Constitution-based system of shared powers. It follows, as...

  11. CHAPTER SIX An American in England
    (pp. 81-93)

    Dick arrived in England along with Bert, Betsy—as Beth was then known—and Rick in the autumn of 1961. He was already a famous man, not famous in the movie-star sense but famous among his academic colleagues, among students, and, not least, among those policymakers in Whitehall and Downing Street sensitive to developments in the outside world, especially in the world across the Atlantic. Not only was he famous: he was remarkable, and those of us who happened to be in Oxford at the time knew it.

    It is now more than half a century since Harry Truman left...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Was Neustadt a Journalist, Too?
    (pp. 94-105)

    Among his many talents, Dick Neustadt was an acute student of the news media, or “the press,” as it was more often called in his era. This interest was initially peripheral to his understanding of the American Presidency, but it evolved and became more relevant with each updating ofPresidential Power,especially the edition that followed the Reagan years.¹ Although Neustadt’s insights into the impact of television on the White House were usually short asides en route to larger points, they illuminated his arguments and sometimes proved astonishingly prescient. And when he offered them directly to reporters and columnists in...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Tribute to a Teacher
    (pp. 106-109)

    I’m pausing because . . . this is one of two occasions when the image of Dick Neustadt has surprised me. I don’t normally get emotional at occasions like this—no matter the depth of respect I feel for the individual we are remembering or honoring—but I am emotional today, because . . . Dick played such an important role for me, personally.

    The first time Dick’s image surprised me was a few years ago, when I was in conversation with close friends on the subject of trust. And the question was posed: If you could close your eyes...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Masterful Mentor
    (pp. 110-120)

    As a young man, Richard E. Neustadt embarked on a career in public service. He did not originally intend a life as an educator, much less as a scholar. Yet Neustadt transformed scholarly discourse on the Presidency, reshaped higher education for public service, influenced the thinking of thousands through his writing and lectures, and profoundly shaped the careers of hundreds of his students. All of his adult life, Neustadt advised Presidents, cabinet secretaries, and senior government officials. Over time, as a teacher and mentor, Neustadt also produced a new generation of leaders who served in public administration, electoral politics, academic...

  15. CHAPTER TEN Institution Builder
    (pp. 121-148)

    You have “a tail, but you haven’t got a dog.”¹ So declared Kay Graham, publisher of theWashington Postand a member of the Institute of Politics’ Senior Advisory Committee, about Richard E. Neustadt’s newly named Institute of Politics. Formally, it was part of the newly named John F. Kennedy School of Government. But that body did not exist.

    Neustadt agreed with Kay. Indeed, he liked her image so much that he made it his own, using it to describe his strategy in successive stages of institution building at Harvard.² A conventional strategy it certainly was not. As Neustadt stated...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Neustadt in Brazil
    (pp. 149-166)

    Life needn’t imitate art, but may, on a whim, take a cue from it. Richard E. Neustadt’s art—his academic writing and advice to Presidents—teems with life. For a biographer, however, Neustadt’s life also teems with art, and no chapter more than the final one—which also imitates it.

    In 2003, Neustadt was invited to journey from England to Brazil to advise on an unusual case: the transition to power of an improbable new President, the Workers’ Party candidate known simply as Lula. Neustadt’s real-life adventure mirrored one in art: In 1886, Sherlock Holmes traveled to Brazil to advise...

  17. Afterword: A Personal Reminiscence
    (pp. 167-180)

    When I was about three years old, Mom took both of us kids to the train station to meet Dad. He was returning from a whistle-stop campaign tour during which he’d been crafting the speeches. Apparently I spotted Dad descending from the train, broke free of Mom’s grip, and went hurtling down the platform to greet him—only to be intercepted by some other man, who swept me off my feet and high into the air, saying, “That’s my girl!” Unfazed by being airborne, I glared at this fellow and indignantly replied, “I’m not your girl; I’m my Daddy’s girl!”...

  18. Appendix
    (pp. 181-190)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 191-204)
  20. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 205-208)
  21. About the Contributors
    (pp. 209-212)
  22. Index
    (pp. 213-218)