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The Paradoxes of the American Presidency 2nd Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195167092
ISBN-10: 0195167090
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Two of the foremost scholars of the American presidency provide a welcome expanded update of Cronin's highly regarded The State of the Presidency (1980). The presidency is loaded with paradoxes that make the job arduous under the best of circumstances. The public wants a strong president but is suspicious of power; it yearns for a leader who is heroic yet has the common touch; and it demands bold visions but at low social and economic costs. These paradoxes and others provide the framework for this comprehensive survey of the presidency and its interactions with Congress, political parties, the Supreme Court, the cabinet, and, most important, the public. As safeguards of presidential accountability, the authors recommend the cautious use of independent counsels, limiting "soft" money campaign contributions, giving free television time to major candidates, and healthy political parties. Their informative examination is highly recommended for all public and academic presidential studies collections and remains a required text for serious students of the presidency.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Americans' paradoxical views of the presidency are explored by two political scientists. Cronin (The State of the Presidency, not reviewed, etc.) and Genovese (The Presidential Dilemma, not reviewed, etc.) focus on the contradictory yearning of Americans to have a leader who is both ``one of the people'' and someone far removed from identification with the masses. This paradox is less daunting when the president possesses the political genius and natural affability of a Lincoln or an FDR, but it does pose a problem when, say, someone lacking the common touch, like Richard Nixon, is in office. Less paradoxical perhaps is the issue of the Electoral College, which the authors address and for which they offer a solution: the National Bonus Plan, in which the ``winner takes all'' system would be supplanted by a bonus for the popular vote-winner to ensure that the electoral and popular majorities are never different, as has been the case four times in the nation's history. But while the National Bonus Plan is presented at some length, other approaches to streamlining the presidency are given little consideration, e.g., the six-year, nonrenewable term (labeled ``nonsense'' by the authors) and a move to a more parliamentary style of government in which the president would be subject to no-confidence votes and would therefore be more easily removed in the case of a scandal. Cronin and Genovese, while they present a mass of detail about the presidency and our ideas and expectations concerning it, occasionally weaken their arguments by dismissing too many alternatives without making a solid case against them. Still, their scholarship is thorough, and their book makes good introductory reading on our conflicted feelings about the nation's highest office. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (December 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195167090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195167092
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,363,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In Chapter 1, the authors observe:
"We admire presidential power, yet fear it. We yearn for the heroic, yet are also inherently suspicious of it.We demand dynamic leadership, yet grant only limited powers to the president. We want presidents to be dispassionate analysts and listeners, yet they must also be decisive. We are impressed with presidents who have great self-confidence, yet we dislike arrogance and respect those who express reasonable self-doubt."
Throughout the balance of this chapter, they then identify and briefly discuss nine specific paradoxes which serve as the intellectual infrastructure of this brilliant book. In process, the authors also provide (in effect) a comprehensive analysis of more than 200 years of American history during which the office of the president as well as those who have occupied it reflect the dynamic tensions between and among the elements of the nine paradoxes.
The authors seem to suggest that those American presidents who have proven most effective have been those who (a) understood various paradoxes and then (b) somehow resolved them. The Roosevelts offer two of the best examples. Both were born into wealth and privilege and yet each is best remembered for advancing "populist" causes. The authors invite the reader to view the American presidency "by viewing it through the lens of a series of [such] paradoxes that shape and define the office. Our goal is to convey the complexity, the many-sidedness, and the contrarian aspects of the office."
This book will be of special value to those interested in American history, of course, but also to those who are CEOs of organizations, especially of publicly owned corporations whose CEOs must accommodate the needs and interests of so many different (often antagonistic) constituencies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What an informative and insightful book this turned out to be. I found it on a sale table and gave it a try. I was concerned that the book was nothing more then a tenured professor's attempt at fulfilling his publishing requirements, it turns out that this concern not needed. The book takes the reader through most of the major issues that effect the President in his duties and it does it in an easy to read and understandable format. What is very interesting is that they present the "paradoxes" that the public has pushed the Presidents into the corner on. What we the public what and expects has shaped the office as much as the past office holders.
The authors also look at some stated ways of improving the Presidency and what their opinions are on the methods - very interesting. To bring the ideas and comments more alive they fill the book up with a large number of examples of which a good 70 % relate to the last 10 Presidents. There are also two sections that, given the past years, are even more interesting - Vice Presidents moving to the lead role and impeachment. Overall this was a very good and interesting book. This is the kind of book that both entertains and teaches the reader something in the process.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Held on December 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In this book Dr. Genovese and Dr. Cronin offer a clear explanation of the different paradoxes of the American presidency. They explain the expectation gap that is present in the American presidency where the president has a clear public expectation to be a successful leader yet is bound by roadblocks constitutional and otherwise that make such a success difficult to achieve. I found it as a Political Science major to be an illuminating explanation of the American Presidency.
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