Academic journal article Presidential Studies Quarterly

The Post-Presidency from Washington to Clinton

Academic journal article Presidential Studies Quarterly

The Post-Presidency from Washington to Clinton

Article excerpt

The Post-Presidency from Washington to Clinton. By Burton I. Kaufman. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2012. 646 pp.

When asked at the end of his first term what he thought we should do with former presidents, Grover Cleveland agreed that shooting them might not be a bad idea. However, the recent opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on April 25, 2013, on the campus of Southern Methodist University reminds us that we choose instead to commemorate former presidents, not execute them.

Burton I. Kaufman takes us on a tour of 31 post-presidencies, how they were used, and what they achieved. He argues that the role of former presidents has evolved commensurate with the evolution of the modern presidency and even the United States. Today, the post-presidency has become a quasi-formal office, including perquisites such as office space, a staff, franking privileges, pensions, and Secret Service protection.

Kaufman reminds us that we do not elect a leader for a mere four years, sometimes with an extension. In more recent times, due to longer lifespans and the ability of recent presidents to have a bona fide second career after leaving the White House, we permit their influence for a much longer period of time, even decades. The post-presidency extends even beyond the life of the president, since the presidency has always been greater than any one individual officeholder. In addition, with many presidential records released 30 or more years later, we continue to discover new things about a presidency, even after the particular president passes from the scene.

The work does not focus on all ex-presidents, but on those with a genuine post-presidency--those who did not die while in office or within two years thereafter. We see how the post-presidency today is a billion dollar business: memoirs, books, speaking and consulting fees, presidential libraries, foundations, institutes, a continued influence on policy issues, lobbying (formal or informal), and media appearances. Not all former presidents pursue an active post-presidency, but many do. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.