The Imperiled Presidency: Leadership Challenges in the Twenty-First Century

The Imperiled Presidency: Leadership Challenges in the Twenty-First Century

by G. Calvin Mackenzie

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Overview

The Imperiled Presidency: Presidential Leadership in the 21st Century calls for a dramatic re-evaluation of the American president’s role within the separation of powers system. In contrast with claims by academics, pundits, media, and members of Congress, this provocative new book argues that the contemporary American presidency is too weak rather than too strong. Cal Mackenzie offers the contrarian argument that the real constitutional crisis in contemporary American politics is not the centralization and accumulation of power in the presidency, but rather that effective governance is imperiled by the diminished role of the presidency.

The product of more than three years of research and writing and nearly four decades of the author’s teaching and writing about the American presidency, The Imperiled Presidency is the first book-length treatment of the weaknesses of the modern presidency, written to be accessible to undergraduates and interested citizens alike. It engages with a wide range of literature that relates to the presidency, including electoral politics, budgetary politics, administrative appointments, and the conduct of foreign affairs. It would be a useful complement to courses that rely primarily on a single textbook, as well as courses that are built around more specific readings from a range of books and articles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442260733
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

G. Calvin Mackenzie is Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government at Colby College where he has taught since 1978. His specialty areas include presidential transitions and the politics of presidential appointments, and he has been a consultant on these matters to presidential staff and congressional committees. He is the author or editor of scores of articles and nearly twenty books, including The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s (co-authored with historian Robert Weisbrot), which was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Table of Contents

1. What Kind of Presidency: The Legacy of Ambiguity—reviews the legacy of ambiguity about executive authority that resulted from the fears and uncertainties of the framers of the Constitution. It then explores the interweaving of politics and scholarship in subsequent debates about the proper balance between authority and constraint in the office of the president. The arguments of the most prominent of the recent critics of presidential aggrandizement are identified here to set the stage for the contrary position this book takes
2. The Expectations Gap: Why Presidents Disappoint—on the burden of expectations that falls on contemporary presidents and the gap between those expectations and their capacity to meet them
3. Becoming President—examines the contemporary process by which presidents are nominated and elected and explains how that process diminishes the leadership opportunities of the person who survives it
4. The Myth of the Bully Pulpit—explores the evolution of mass communication over the past several decades from the golden age of presidential television dominated by three networks and a single national audience to today’s atomized and rapidly changing communications environment. While the former enlarged opportunities for presidential leadership in the middle decades of the twentieth century, the latter severely constrains those opportunities now
5. Forces of Resistance—surveys the Washington environment in which contemporary presidents operate and the growing forces of resistance they now confront: an increasingly impaired Congress; an expansive, aggressive, and well-financed universe of special interest groups; and federal courts engaged in a far wider range of policy issues than ever before and no longer disposed to defer to presidents
6. Foreign Policy: A Special Case—takes a closer look at foreign policy, the one area in which presidential dominance has been widely noted and often deemed inevitable. But even here there is abundant evidence that new and significant constraints on presidential authority have emerged in recent decades. The freedom of action that presidents once enjoyed beyond the water’s edge now suffers unprecedented constrictions and a wider and more vigorous set of opponents than ever before
7. A Presidency for the 21st Century— offers summary diagnoses of the burdens on modern presidential leadership, an assessment of their impacts on the health of American democracy, and a prescription of difficult but necessary cures if America is to have the kind of leadership that the challenges of the 21st century will require

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