The Paradoxes of the American Presidency

By Thomas E. Cronin; Michael A. Genovese | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Presidential Paradoxes

He must have "common opinions." But it is equally imperative that he be an "uncommon man." The public must see themselves in him, but they must, at the same time, be confident that he is something bigger than themselves.

Harold J. Laski, The American Presidency: An Interpretation ( Harper & Brothers, 1940), p. 38

To become president, Lincoln had had to talk more radically on occasion than he actually felt; to be an effective president he was compelled to act more conservatively than he wanted.

Richard Hofstadter, The American Political Tradition ( Vintage, 1948), p. 128

A law of opposites frequently influences the American Presidency. Once in office, Presidents are seen to do things least expected of them, often things they had explicitly promised not to do. Previous commitments or perceived inclinations act as a kind of insurance that protects against any great loss if a President behaves contrary to expectation.

Daniel P. Moynihan, The New Republic, December 31, 1983, p. 18

The mind searches for answers to the complexities of life. We often gravitate toward simple explanations for the world's mysteries. This is a natural

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