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Veto Bargaining: Presidents and the Politics of Negative Power (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521625500
ISBN-10: 0521625505
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  • Veto Bargaining: Presidents and the Politics of Negative Power (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This pathbreaking study should be in the library of every serious student of US national politics." Choice

Book Description

With one party controlling the presidency and the opposing party controlling Congress, the veto has inevitably become a critical tool of presidential power. Combining sophisticated game theory with unprecedented data, this book analyzes how divided party presidents use threats and vetoes to wrest policy concessions from a hostile Congress. Case studies of the most important vetoes in recent history add texture to the analysis, detailing how President Clinton altered the course of Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution. Offering the first book-length analysis to bring rational choice theory to bear on the presidency, Veto Bargaining is a major contribution to our understanding of American politics in an age of divided party government.
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Product Details

  • Series: Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521625505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521625500
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on March 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
The book review does not lie when it calls this book a major contribution. To political scientists interested in formal theory, the presidency, executive-legislative relations, or divided government, this book is one of the best to come along in years. Especially in presidential studies, this book is probably the best to come along since Light's "President's Agenda," and perhaps the best since 1960 and Neustadt's "Presidential Power." For formal theory people, this book is an exemplar of how good, rigorous theory and careful, skilled empirical analysis can work together to produce both a well-reasoned and well-supported picture of the veto and its affect on policy. For those who abhor formal theory, the rich case studies are informative reading, too. Overall, this book is what political science should be about.
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Format: Paperback
Let me start with the good. Cameron's evaluation of veto bargaining is well supported by the facts he presents, and the multiple models he elucidates work well to "cover" how and when Presidents will use (or at least threaten) a veto. Especially in the area of divided government, his analysis is rich, intelligent, and could present a decent step forward in how we understand presidential use of veto powers.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the book is focused upon a truly awful defense of rational choice theory. Let me be honest: I believe that rational choice theory is a flawed but useful way to observe political actors and their decisions. It is prone to the fact that many people act against their own interests all the time, and arguments that attempt to create a single motivation for all political actors in a certain position are often too vulnerable to attack to be accepted as true. However, when used in "broad strokes" for specific actors or specific institutions, and when it avoids making these flawed arguments about single motivations, it typically works reasonably well.

Chapter 3 presents one of the most inane defenses of the subject that I have ever read. Rational choice theory is hardly as controversial as the author seems to think it is, and I found the vitriolic language he used defending it to be borderline insane. It is hardly a broad leap to claim that many individuals act against their own goods, and I did not appreciate being compared to the cardinal who refused to look through Galileo's telescope for considering it a flaw in rational choice theory.
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