Politics and the Oval Office: Towards Presidential Governance

Politics and the Oval Office: Towards Presidential Governance

Politics and the Oval Office: Towards Presidential Governance

Politics and the Oval Office: Towards Presidential Governance

Excerpt

From 1932 to 1960 there were only three American presidents and all served for at least two full terms. Since 1960 there have been five, and none has served two full terms. The "imperial presidency" has come and gone, leaving President Reagan an inheritance of inflated expectations and widespread public disillusionment.

In light of recent experience, some commentators have argued that a president can no longer govern. They cite variously the huge complexity of the decisions a president faces, the decline of party support, the fragmentation of Congress, the hostility of the media, the intransigence of the federal bureaucracy, or the willfulness of foreign governments.

We at the institute do not share their pessimism. Last summer we published major studies in the two policy areas which featured most centrally in the presidential election campaign -- national security and the economy. Each was written by a series of experts from diverse backgrounds, and focused on analyzing recent trends and suggesting feasible proposals for reform. They showed that improvements are possible.

Politics and the Oval Office is the institute's first book to address directly the institutional and political contexts for implementing substantive policies. Although the essential task is different here, this study shares the approach and the optimism of the earlier ones.

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