Within These Walls: A Study of Communication between Presidents and Their Senior Staffs

Within These Walls: A Study of Communication between Presidents and Their Senior Staffs

Within These Walls: A Study of Communication between Presidents and Their Senior Staffs

Within These Walls: A Study of Communication between Presidents and Their Senior Staffs

Synopsis

Within These Walls goes beyond the study of presidential speeches and examines the organizational structure, systems of information flow, and communication styles in the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan. Focusing specifically on the post-Watergate presidents, this book illustrates that a crucial dimension of presidential communication is not that which is spoken during public addresses but that which takes place between the chief executive and his senior staff. The author's research includes interviews with President Ford and several former senior aides in the Ford, Carter, and Reagan White Houses.

Excerpt

Presidential communication consists of more than a chief executive's public speeches and press conferences. It is also the behaviors and processes a president uses to create supportive networks among his personal staff and to facilitate the transmission and use of information to make and execute decisions. Effective presidential communication is not just a chief executive's ability to inform, motivate, and persuade the press and the public. It is also his facility at mobilizing the human resources around him to initiate and implement policies with a view to his personal and presidential agendas.

Journalistic and scholarly attention to, and even emphasis on, the public or rhetorical presidency has obscured the need to evaluate critically a president's communication with his senior staff, his inner circle. The dynamics of interaction among these individuals affects virtually all presidential decisions. The development and implementation of a policy, the preparation of a public speech, the practice for a press conference, and the management of a crisis--indeed, almost anything a president says or does to discharge his responsibilities--are the products of communication with his closest advisers. The dominance of the White House staff over the Cabinet in policy formulation during most of the modern presidencies is a result of this highly interactive atmosphere in the environs of the Oval Office. Moreover, the incidents of abuse and misuse of power among presidential staffs since 1960, most notably the Watergate and Irangate scandals, draw attention to the clout wielded by those who share the president's trust, and often his influence, and demand a critical evaluation of communication between president and senior staff within the walls of the White House. That critical evaluation is the purpose of this book.

Watergate focused press and public attention on those comprising the inner circle around a president, and both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were sensitive . . .

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