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Jimmy Carter as President: Leadership and the Politics of the Public Good (Miller Center Series on the American Presidency) Paperback – March 1, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Erwin C. Hargrove is professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. Among his other works on the presidency are The Power of the Modern Presidency and Presidents, Politics, and Policy.
Top Customer Reviews
The book, in my opinion, does two things. It goes into the dynamics of Carter's leadership style and also gives information about what was happening behind the doors of the White House.
In a couple words, policy and decision-making were handled two ways: collegial discussion and homework. These are key to Carter's leadership. As an engineer, Carter wished to focus on a problem, do his homework, and then join discussion about the options. As the president, he reserved the right to make the final decision. This follows his engineering and religious background. If there is a problem, solve the problem.
The difficulty that arose from this was his reluctance of engaging in political maneuvering and his focus. In Washington, it is necessary at times to bargain. Carter, leading a country rebounding from the Nixon years, was determined to avoid the political battles as much as possible. In regard to focus, according to Hargrove, his focusing on a problem kept him from noticing the connection with various other problems.
At the end of the book, Hargrove talks about how this leadership style worked, and did not work, in a transition presidency.
Also, Hargrove talks of the different agenda items (like the economic policy and energy policy) and how the collegial style worked. More often than not, not all the departments were on the same page. This led to the administration to appear to be vacillating. Hargrove shows how this process worked in each agenda, which is very helpful. I found this helped me to focus on the specifics.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Carter presidency or anyone who did not like the Carter presidency. This book does have a good perspective on that time in American history.