The President and His Inner Circle: Leadership Style and the Advisory Process in Foreign Affairs

The President and His Inner Circle: Leadership Style and the Advisory Process in Foreign Affairs

The President and His Inner Circle: Leadership Style and the Advisory Process in Foreign Affairs

The President and His Inner Circle: Leadership Style and the Advisory Process in Foreign Affairs

Synopsis

Few would argue that presidential policies and performance would have been the same whether John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon became president in 1960, or if Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan had won the White House in 1980. Indeed, in recent elections, the character, prior policy experience, or personalities of candidates have played an increasing role in our assessments of their "fit" for the Oval Office. Further, these same characteristics are often used to explain an administration's success or failure in policy making. Obviously, who the president is -- and what he is like -- matters. This book, a new approach to the study of the personal presidency, links the characteristics of six modern American presidents -- their personalities and their prior policy-making experience -- to their leadership styles, advisory arrangements, and decision making in the White House. Thomas Preston uses M. G. Hermann's Personality Assessment-at-a-Distance (PAD) profiling technique, as well as exhaustive archival research and interviews with former advisors, to develop a leadership style typology. He then compares his model's expectations against the actual policy record of six past presidents, using foreign policy episodes: Korea (1950) for Truman, Dien Bien Phu (1954) for Eisenhower, Cuba (1962) for Kennedy, Vietnam (1967-68) for Johnson, the Gulf War (1990-91) for Bush, and North Korea/Haiti/Bosnia (1994-95) for Clinton.

Excerpt

With the approach of the year 2000 presidential election, once again we find ourselves pondering the personalities of the candidates and wondering what kind of president each might become. We observe how they handle themselves during the rigors of campaigning and interviews with the press— how they interact with their staffs and the public, what kind of managerial styles they demonstrate. We sift through their backgrounds and experience for clues to their character and competence. Are they intelligent and thoughtful regarding the needs of the nation and experienced in policy making? Will they be strong foreign or domestic policy presidents? Lacking direct personal knowledge of or access to these candidates, we “assess them at a distance” to arrive at our judgments. In the end, we reach our own subjective conclusions and vote for the candidate we believe will make the best president. Implicit in this process is our belief that who the president is and what he is [they are] like matters!

Like the public, scholars also engage in “assessment at a distance” of candidates and later, the new president. Before the end of a president's first year in office, bookshelves are usually already overflowing with impressionistic accounts of his personality, style, and confident predictions regarding the . . .

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