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The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century

The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Charles W. Dunn
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century
    Book Description:

    As the most prominent figure of the U.S. government, the president is under constant scrutiny from both his colleagues and the American people. Questions about the proper role of the president have been especially prevalent in the media during the current economic crisis. The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century explores the growth of presidential power, investigating its social, political, and economic impact on America's present and future.

    Editor Charles W. Dunn and a team of the nation's leading political scientists examine a variety of topics, from the link between campaigning and governing to trends in presidential communication with the public. The book discusses the role of the presidency in a government designed to require cooperation with Congress and how this relationship is further complicated by the expectations of the public. Several contributors take a closer look at the Obama administration in light of President George W. Bush's emphasis on the unitary executive, a governing style that continues to be highly controversial. Dunn and his contributors provide readers with a thorough analysis of a rapidly changing political role, provoking important questions about the future of America's political system.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3403-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction: The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century: Continuity and Change
    (pp. 1-14)
    Charles W. Dunn

    Isaac Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, states that an object once in motion will continue in motion unless acted upon by outside forces. In 1787 when the Founders of the United States set presidential power in motion, they created a force far more powerful than their intentions. Now for 225 years the momentum of presidential power has gradually accelerated. And as its power has increased so, too, have the public’s expectations. The combination of increasing power and rising expectations has generated friction as outside forces have acted to limit presidential power and as presidential performance has failed to...

  4. The Once and Future Chief Executive Prophecy versus Prediction
    (pp. 15-28)
    Hugh Heclo

    Thirty-six years ago, with the ashes of the Nixon and Johnson presidencies still glowing, a book on the same subject as this one,The Future of the American Presidency,presented the views of fourteen leading scholars, journalists, and politicians. Edited by Charles W. Dunn, it was a daring project.

    Writing in 1975, how could anyone have predicted the future that was to come? Those subsequent years witnessed a seemingly hapless, unmanageable presidency under Jimmy Carter and a revitalized, emboldened presidential office under Ronald Reagan. Then there was the hugely popular Iraq war leadership but also electoral failure of George Bush...

  5. Shall We Cast Our Lot with the Constitution? Thinking about Presidential Power in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 29-54)
    Stephen Skowronek

    As the reach and responsibilities of the federal government expand, so too do the stakes of any debate over the scope and limits of presidential power. In other words, the implications of our thinking about these matters have never been as weighty as they are today. All the more striking, then, is the determination in recent years to drive the debate over presidential power back to first principles. It is not just that the improvisations of prior generations have been called into question; that is to be expected. What is curious is that the way forward is no longer being...

  6. Is the Constitutional Presidency Obsolete?
    (pp. 55-82)
    Robert J. Spitzer

    The second Bush presidency made at least two major contributions to the study of the American presidency: first, it put the tenets of the separation-of-powers/checks-and-balances system front and center in contemporary political analysis; second, it reinforced the centrality of constitutional powers and institutional relations to any complete understanding of the contemporary presidency. After all, the George W. Bush presidency’s overarching goal and master plan, spanning the gamut of routine day-to-day activities, on the one hand, to the administration’s most important policy goals, on the other, was to redefine and enlarge the president’s constitutional powers consonant with its singularly expansive view...

  7. The Future of the War Presidency The Case of the War Powers Consultation Act
    (pp. 83-100)
    William G. Howell

    Scholars have long bemoaned the Congress’s inability to check the president’s war powers, the failure of Congress’s own members to take up their own constitutional obligations, and the resulting imbalance of power in foreign policy that has thus been birthed. But when an extraordinarily unpopular president unapologetically trumpeted the expansion of executive war powers, when the protracted Iraq war was taking its toll on American blood and treasure, and when newly elected Democratic majorities in Congress failed to do much about it, principled critiques gave way to outrage. The years Bush was in office are debatably defined solely by the...

  8. Opportunities and Challenges in Presidential Communications
    (pp. 101-120)
    Brandice Canes-Wrone

    At the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency, there was a sense that the White House had a greater capacity than ever before to use public communications to advance the president’s agenda. Obama himself is clearly a gifted orator who can draw an enormous audience at a moment’s notice. Moreover, his campaign was renowned for its effective use of contemporary technologies like YouTube, e-mail, and text-messaging.¹ Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s campaign manager for the 2004 Democratic primaries, surmised that Obama’s communications machinery could create “the most powerful presidency that we have ever seen.”²

    Yet history suggests that pundits and politicians commonly...

  9. The Future of Bipartisanship as a Strategy of Presidential Governing
    (pp. 121-144)
    George C. Edwards III

    Every president requires a strategy for governing, for bringing about changes in public policy. One approach, which is popular with the public, is to try to create opportunities for change by reaching across the congressional aisle and attracting bipartisan support. Such support can be critical in overcoming a Senate filibuster or effectively appealing to Independents in the public, who find bipartisanship reassuring. TheWashington Postreported that the Obama legislative agenda was built around what some termed an “advancing tide” theory: “Democrats would start with bills that targeted relatively narrow problems, such as expanding health care for low-income children, reforming...

  10. Our Continuing Cult of the Presidency
    (pp. 145-168)
    Gene Healy

    In addressing our continuing cult of the presidency, I shall answer five critical questions, which speak to the status of presidential power today.

    1. Has the presidency become too powerful?

    2. Would the Founders approve of today’s presidency?

    3. Does the presidency threaten our system of checks and balances?

    4. To what extent has the presidency contributed to public distrust of government?

    5. Do we as Americans rely too much on presidential leadership to solve our problems?

    The answers, as I see them, are “yes,” “no,” “yes,” “it’s complicated,” and “yes.”

    In the course of this essay, I’ll say more...

  11. Plausible Futures
    (pp. 169-186)
    Jeffrey K. Tulis

    January 20, 2009, marked the beginning of a new presidency. Did it also mark the beginning of a new political era in America? President Obama promised to “change Washington,” to offer “a new kind of politics,” and to be a “transformational” president. These commitments are unusually broad and deep. The usual concerns of journalists and political pundits are much narrower—about specific policy preferences and plans, about political scandal, about partisan tactics, or about political strategy. As Obama assumed the office, domestic and foreign circumstances inclined the polity to want the broader kind of leadership he promised.

    Transformational leaders have...

  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 187-188)
  13. Index
    (pp. 189-202)