The Myth of the Modern Presidency

The Myth of the Modern Presidency

The Myth of the Modern Presidency

The Myth of the Modern Presidency


At present there do not seem to be any fashions in literary criticism--an impression that this book reinforces. Each individual in this gathering of critics was invited to practice his trade in whatever fashion he liked, and the results show that criticism of literature is going off in as many directions as literature itself. In addition to poet and scholar, here we have novelist, essayist, folklorist, psychologist, and biographer.

Several selections carry on the poem as an act of criticism; the others take their evidence from sources that range from bibliographic data to the facts of composition and the record of stage interpretation, from the reaction of audiences to the response of the computer. As this delightfully eclectic forum of distinguished critics shows, literary criticism at its best takes on widely ranging perspectives expressed in a variety of forms and styles.

Contributors: John Barth, Bruce Rosenberg, John Balaban, Lawrence Kohlberg, Robert Worth Frank, Jr., Joseph G. Price, Jack McManis, Ralph W. Condee, Frank Brady, F.W. Bateson, Harrison T. Meserole, W.T. Jewkes, Deborah Austin, Philip Young, Chadwick Hansen, Maurice B. Cramer, John Haag, Arthur O. Lewis, Jr., Stanley Weintraub, John B. Smith, Michael H. Begnal, Kenneth Burke, Joseph L. Grucci, Paul West.


This work is open to a number of criticisms, the most important of which is that I have been selective in my treatment of the operation and development of the American Presidency. To that charge I must plead guilty. But any attempt to be comprehensive in dealing with such a broad theme necessarily would end in failure. What I have tried to do is to suggest a framework for the study of the Presidency, a framework that differs in some important respects from that offered by other contemporary scholars. The value of that framework will ultimately be established by scholars who will determine if it explains more of the particular history and operation of the Presidency than other assumptions underlying study of the Presidency.

Even this limited effort would not have been possible without a great deal of assistance. I am grateful to the H. B. Earhart Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation for support for the early stages of this project. Sanford G. Thatcher at The Pennsylvania State University Press has carefully guided the manuscript through review and publication. He is a model for what a press director should be. And, as senior manuscript editor, Peggy Hoover has done much to improve the clarity, consistency, and style of the book. I would also like to acknowledge the helpful suggestions of the anonymous reviewers who have helped me to avoid numerous errors and to clarify a number of my arguments.

More than anyone I know, I am dependent on conversations with others to explore and develop my ideas, and I have been fortunate over the years to have found people willing to listen and talk. From my oldest friend, Don Bradley, with whom I have been arguing about the American Presidency since the Kennedy administration, to my close friends from graduate school at Northern Illinois University and the University of Virginia, I would like to say thank you for tolerating my endless theories and arguments about political life.

I have also been fortunate to have had a number of exceptional teachers. Professor David Broyles first showed me that the study of political philos-

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