Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan Hardcover – 1 Jan 1990
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Washington Post Remains brilliant, significantly strengthened and enlarged.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Our most brilliant commentator on the Presidency brings his diagnosis up to date in this witty, inclusive and stylish book.
Aaron Wildavsky University of California, Berkeley Savvy, insightful political portraits of recent presidents, including Ronald Reagan, in relation to what is still the contemporary classic on the Presidency.
Representative Stephen J. Solarz New York An operational Bible for Presidents and their staffs, and an indispensable Baedeker for those who seek to understand both.
Fred I. Greenstein Princeton University Neustadt's book remains the classic account of presidential leadership, and the latest edition has a bonus -- two fascinating new chapters.
Paul E. Peterson Harvard University The discussion of Iran-Contra reveals how profound was Dick Neustadt's original intepretation of Presidential power.
Charles O. Jones University of Wisconsin He is so much in command that he doesn't have to tell all. A personal characteristic, a response, an insight -- and soon you see what he sees.
Clark M. Clifford For thirty years, Presidential Power has influenced students of the Presidency -- from the quiet comers of the White House to college and university compuses across the nation. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Richard E. Neustadt is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government Emeritus at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. For three decades an advisor to presidents, their aides, and to members of the cabinet, he is also the author with Ernest R. May of Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers (The Free Press, 1986). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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As part of a graduate program in political science with a concentration on the United States, you will read this book. If you don't, I am happy to go out on a limb and say that there is something wrong with your program!
This is one of the three seminal works available on the Presidency. There are others but this is one of the big guns. If you read this book, along with Corwin's "Presidential Power" and Rossiter's "The American Presidency", you'll understand all three theories of presidential power: the weak President (Neustadt), the strong President (Corwin) and the President wearing many hats (Rossiter). In reality, all three are correct.
It's interesting but a scholarly read. It's not a book you'd pick up for light after dinner reading.
The president must persuade other independently elected officials to do as he sees fit. This, in a city such as Washington DC where people have seen powerful politicians come and go over the years, is easier said than done. The president must be attuned to the nuances of political issues and not allow himself to become cut off from the political back and forth by his retinue of aides. He must retain the prerogative of making the final political decision and avoid becoming a clerk and simply ratifying the decisions made form by the staff and the bureaucracy. Further, he must define what is in his political self interest.
The president does so by keeping himself informed, by employing a system of information that allows him to be at the center and making real decisions; and by carefully husbanding the power and carefully cultivating the image of the president. While the president does posses the power to command, instances where he must rely on command are a prima facie failure of persuasion.
Finally, the president must ensure that others understand his power. He must be able to strike a modicum of fear into both his allies and his foes. In the political sense, this means the ability to hurt someone electorally. If I as the president can campaign against you and make it stick, you will be more likely to fear me and be persuaded by my requests.
This is not an easy read, but if you are involved as a student of politics you WILL read this book at some point. A classic and well worth the effort.
John C. McKee
Neustadt contends that a president's ability to reduce the risks of failure and maximize his ability to persuade is closely related to the choices he makes. The choices that president's make must always be made if reference to expanding and protecting presidential power. Neustadt claims that presidential power - the power to persuade - stems from his professional reputation in Washington, and his prestige with the public.
A president's reputation is crucial to his bargaining position. Those people who the president must persuade are constantly watching the president's reactions to any given situation. They are weighing how profitable cooperation could be, and how problematic conflict could be. This allows them to predict presidential behavior in the future. They are looking for patterns of behavior. If the president is seen as weak, they are unlikely to cooperate. As such, the president's goal regarding reputation "should be to induce as much uncertainty as possible about the consequences of ignoring what he wants...[and] to minimize the insecurities of possible support" (55). These goals, again, are accomplished though the choices and decisions a president makes.
Public prestige also plays a crucial role in the president's power to persuade. Those who interact with the president need to think about how the public at large feels about the president in addition to his professional reputation. They need to anticipate how the public will feel about the president in gauging their interaction with him. If the president is unpopular, he is likely to face resistance, and vice versa. Prestige is often found outside of Washington, while reputation is found inside. As such, in order to protect or expand his prestige, the president has to go to the source, the public.
People's perceptions of the president can change rapidly. People view the performance of the president based on their current circumstances. Because the president does not have control over events, he must be an effective teacher. That is, the president must "illuminate" his actions in order to overcome the misperceptions of the public. Again, the choices the president makes - what he does, what he will do - protect his influence.
In short, the president's power to persuade stems from three sources: the bargaining advantages that stem from his position as president, the expectations of others regarding his ability to use incentives and punishments, and lastly, other actors perceptions of the president's public prestige. These all stem from the decisions the president makes. He is judged by his actions, and as such, his choices are the key to his power. The president must always weigh the effects of choices on his personal power, if he wants to be successful. In order to make good choices, he must have good information and time to weigh his options.