By Thomas E. Cronin, Michael A. Genovese
What, exactly, do Americans want from their president? A strong, innovative leader or someone who simply follows the will of the people? A president who insists on the ideals of a party or someone who builds bipartisan support? A president who exercises power forcefully or someone who establishes consensus before doing anything? The answer, according to Thomas E. Cronin and Michael A. Genovese in their provocative new book, The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, is that Americans want the president to be a leader and a follower, partisan and bipartisan, innovative and conservative. For example, we expect our presidents to provide visionary leadership, and yet at the same time to be ever-sensitive to public opinion polls. We want a president with the power to solve the nation's problems, yet we are inherently suspicious of centralized leadership and the abuse of power. Such conflicting demands put the president in an impossible position.Indeed, Cronin and Genovese contendt the duties and challenges of the office are so capacious and the public's expectations often so inconsistent that whatever course of action a president takes may result in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of criticism. While there is no way out of the constant paradoxical dilemmas presidents face, there are ways to deal with these conflicting and sometimes inflated expectations. Yet even master political statecraft is often inadequate in reconciling these paradoxes of the American presidency. In a book sure to encourage debate, The Paradoxes of the American Presidency gives us a fresh new understanding both of the presidential office and the public's inevitable dissatisfaction with it.