Gerald Ford once said, "We have not an imperial Presidency; we have an imperiled Presidency." In recent years, presidents have bemoaned the red tape, complained about the limitations of the position, and even lambasted the press for the ineffectiveness of the office. In Hail to the Chief
, Robert Dallek argues that the institution of the Presidency is blamed too often for the shortcomings of its occupants. Character, he says, is what makes Abraham Lincoln
stand out from Millard Fillmore
, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt
overshadow Jimmy Carter
. Stellar presidents, he maintains, possess vision, pragmatism, persuasiveness, charisma, and credibility--qualities that a great majority of our nation's leaders have sorely lacked.
From Publishers Weekly
Dallek's roster of great Presidents includes Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR and Reagan, all of whom had clear, long-term visions of where they wanted to lead the nation. The most astute chiefs, in this UCLA history professor's assessment, were charismatic because they understood that the President is a privileged actor on the world stage and in our national mythology (Jefferson, Eisenhower, JFK). Effective leaders, he stresses, exploit consensus politics in the service of national renewal: for instance, Wilson's consolidation of the progressive impulse, Roosevelt's leading of a New Deal coalition and LBJ's support for affordable health care for the elderly. Other Presidents lost credibility and public trust through overreaching, deviousness, willful blindness or political crises (Andrew Johnson, Hoover, Ford, Carter, Nixon). Dallek seems intimately familiar with the quirks, strengths and flaws of all those who served in the White House, making this a trenchant, provocative, often surprising portrait gallery. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.