ment. The world can be shaken from Mount Olympus but the gods were notoriously inefficient when it came to directing the affairs of mankind. The Greeks were wise about such matters. In their remarkable body of lore, human tragedy usually originated with divine intervention and their invocations to the deities were usually prayers of propitiation--by all that is holy, leave us alone!
A semidivinity is also a personification of a people, and presidents cannot escape the process. The trouble with personification is that it depends upon abstraction and, in the course of the exercise, individual living people somehow get lost. The president becomes the nation and when he is insulted, the nation is insulted; when he has a dream, the nation has a dream; when he has an antagonist, the nation has an antagonist.
The purpose of this book is to examine the effects of this environment upon the president of the United States. This has become a matter of great urgency. It is increasingly evident that the tasks of the presidency are more and more demanding. It is also increasingly evident that presidents spend more of their time swimming in boiling political waters. There is even a respectable body of thought which holds that the problems are out of control and that, in the present context, the nation must look forward to a series of one-term persidents, incapable of holding the office for more than four years.
As a general rule, efforts to remedy the deficiencies of the presidency center on proposals to bring a greater administrative efficiency to the White House itself. It is held that the problems would become manageable if the president had better tools at his command. In my mind there is a strong suspicion that the problems are no more unmanageable today than they have been in the past. They are, of course, bigger in terms of consequence. But they are still decision rather than management problems. Perhaps a more fruitful path lies in an exploration of the extent to which the atmosphere of the White House degrades a man's political instincts and abilities. Our thoughts should be centered not on electronic brains but on the forces that would foster the oldest, the noblest, and the most vital of all human arts--the art of politics.
Gabriel Kolko. The men of power.
To comprehend the nature and function of power in America is to uncover a critical analytic tool for assessing the character of the American historical experience and the role of the United States in the modern world. The failure of most of an entire generation of American intellectuals and scholars to make the phenomenon of power a central concern has permitted a fog of obscuritanism and irrelevance to descend upon the study of American life in the twentieth century.
Stated simply, the question is: What are the political and economic dimensions of power in American society, how does power function, and who benefits from it? The correlations of these structural aspects of power are either curious or critical, incidental, and perhaps colorful, or of decisive importance. The structure of power may be described empirically, but power may also reflect a more elusive configuration of social attitudes and forces that makes it possible for one class to prevail in American history--or it may involve aspects of both the tangible and the intangible.
For the most part, the handful of students of American power have concentrated on the investigation of the social status and origins of men of power, an exercise that has meaning only if one can show distinctive political behavior on the part of men of power with lower social status. Indeed, one must assess the psychology of decision- makers, the genesis of their power, and the source of their conduct in the context of the