Senior seminar: the american presidency

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Spring 06 -- T&TH 1:30—2:45 B. A. Rockman

Beering B206 2242 Beering Hall

Course Description
This course examines the U.S. Presidency from the perspective of its leadership role in the American political system. It does so from the standpoint of political processes whereby presidents are engaged in a struggle to assert their power over other actors who also hold power. This perspective also assumes (unlike television or cinema dramatizations) that presidents represent some, not all, of the people. Presidential power is exercised within a system of institutional constraints and fragmentation but also within varying political contexts that may serve to inhibit or promote a president’s power at different points in time. Identifying the conditions that facilitate or hinder presidential power is vital to the analysis of the presidential leadership role. Consequently temporal and comparative dimensions of the presidential leadership role are emphasized. How has the presidency evolved over time historically, and what role does time play even within a single presidential term? As well, how can we compare the American Presidency to top leadership roles in other political democracies? We examine also processes of presidential selection (the task of getting there) and presidential capacities to sustain popular support and backing from other political leaders (the task of staying there and building political support for governing). How does partisan polarization affect the building of support and presidential coalitions, for example? How do presidents engage the government of which they are a part and to what extent can they impart a sense of their direction and management and to what extent can the government engage them and allow for expertise and advice and broader political interests to filter into the White House? How do presidents differ in their leadership styles, skills, and roles as decision makers? How, if at all, is the Presidency evolving? We begin the seminar by asking how much power do presidents have? How much does the Constitution grant them? How much should they have? For what purposes should power be used? (It will not be very surprising to discover that we want to constrain presidents of the opposing party and loosen the constraints on those of our own party.) These questions are easier to ask than to answer. At the end of the seminar, we will examine the question of whether the US Presidency has become “imperial” or whether it is instead “imperiled”?

Course Requirements and Assignments
This being a seminar, students are expected to be active participants and to be active and up to date with course readings. The vast bulk of course readings will be contained in three books but there also are several readings in reserve at the library. You are free to make copies of them for your personal use (at your expense) or read them at the library. An occasional one may be available through J-STOR, an electronic data archive to which Purdue subscribes.
There will be three written assignments. These include a final take-home exam. There will be two other short paper assignments during the course. Together, these written assignments account for 80% of your grade. You will be expected to give an oral presentation using course material to respond to an analytic question or questions. This will count for 10% of your grade. Seminar participation, its quality as well as quantity, will account for another 10%.
The written assignments require not just description but careful analysis and conceptualization of and identification of the puzzles involving aspects of presidential leadership. If you like putting together puzzles, you will find the papers I assign rewarding. (A little known side-effect is that these papers also help build character.)
All in all, here is the break down:
Final Paper (take-home) = 40%

Two Take-Home Papers = 40% (20% each)

Oral Presentation = 10%

Seminar Participation = 10%
I should note that I tend in the margins, if any are afforded, to weight modestly a trajectory of improving performance.
A Note About Plagiarism
Unethical behavior will be severely sanctioned. Plagiarism comes in many forms. None of them are acceptable, and any form is in violation of academic ethics. Plagiarism involves copying the work of others without citation or recognition. This extends to works over the internet as well as to more conventional sources. This also may include the buying or selling of papers over the internet or from other sources. It is actually remarkably easy for professors to identify plagiarized work. Don’t even think about it – not, of course, that any of you would.
There are three books to be purchased. They must be purchased in the edition I signify.

They are:
Michael Nelson (ed.), The Presidency and the Political System, 8th edition. (CQ Press: 2006).
Richard E. Neustadt, Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. (The Free Press: 1990). --- This is an enlarged and expanded edition of a book originally published in 1960.
James P. Pfiffner and Roger H. Davidson (eds.), Understanding the Presidency, 3rd edition. (Pearson Longman: 2005.

All of the books above are in paperbound editions. The Nelson book is an anthology of original commissioned chapters. The Pfiffner-Davidson book is an anthology of secondary readings, i.e., previously published material brought together and organized. The Neustadt book is a volume that has been three times expanded beyond a highly influential book published originally in 1960. Neustadt could reasonably be considered the most influential figure in the study of the American Presidency and this book still ranks among the most highly regarded in the field of presidential studies, if not, in fact, the most highly regarded. He has a particular take on what is important to a successful presidency.
Beyond the readings assigned from these three books, there are some additional readings on reserve at the Undergraduate Library for this course. They are marked on the reading schedule by an asterisk (*). You may copy the copy available on reserve or read the available copy there for each of the reserve readings. In at least one case, you may access an e- copy through the electronic archive J-STOR.
Course Outline and Readings
I. Introduction (1/10)

II. Theories of the Presidency: Constitutional, Empirical, and Normative (1/12 & 1/17)


--Nelson, pp. 1-27 (Michael Nelson, “Evaluating the Presidency”)

--Neustadt, Preface to the 1990 edition and the first edition (1960), pp. vii-xxvii

and Chapters 1-3 (pp. 3-50).

--Pfiffner & Davidson, Section 1 (pp. 1-22)
III. The Presidency in Historical and Temporal Context (1/19 & 1/24)


--Nelson, pp. 57-88 (Jeffrey Tulis, “The Two Constitutional Presidencies”) and pp. 89-135 (Stephen Skowronek, “Presidential Leadership in Political Time”)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 23-50

IV. The Presidency in Comparative Political Context (1/26 & 1/31)


--Nelson, pp. 28-56 (Bert Rockman, “The American Presidency in Comparative Perspective: Systems, Situations, and Leaders”) and pp. 430-454 (Colin Campbell, “Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Civil Service”)

--*Bert A. Rockman, “The Performance of Presidents and Prime Ministers and of Presidential and Parliamentary Systems” in Kurt von Mettenheim (ed.), Presidential Institutions and Democratic Politics: Comparing Regional and National Contexts (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), pp. 45-64 (on reserve)

V. Getting There: Nomination and Election Processes (2/2, 2/7)


--Nelson, pp. 195-218 (Richard Pious, “The Presidency and the Nominating Process: Politics and Power”) and pp. 219-233 (John Aldrich, J. Griffin & J. Rickershauser, “The Presidency and the Election Campaign: Altering Voters’ Priorities in the 2004 Election”)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 51-103
VI. Staying There: Political Maintenance and Leverage in the White House (2/9, 2/14)


--Neustadt, Chapter 5 (pp. 73-90)

--Nelson, pp. 235-254 (Marc J. Heatherington and Suzanne Globetti, “The Presidency and Political Trust”), pp. 255-282 (Bruce Miroff, “The Presidential Spectacle”), and pp. 283-310 (Lawrence R. Jacobs, “The Presidency and the Press: The Paradox of the White House Communications War”)

--Pfiffner and Davidson, pp. 111-173

--*Garry Young and William B. Perkins, “Presidential Rhetoric, the Public Agenda, and the End of Presidential Television’s ‘Golden Age’”, Journal of Politics 67 (November 2005): 1190-1205 (on reserve)
VII. The Presidency in a Polarized Political System: Strategies (2/16, 2/21)


--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 285-290

--*Geoffrey C. Layman and Timothy M. Carsey, “Party Polarization and ‘Conflict Extension’ in the American Electorate,” American Journal of Political Science 46 (October 2002): 786-802 (on reserve; also, likely available through JSTOR electronic archive)

--*Paul Goren, “Party Identification and Core Political Values,” American Journal of Political Science 49 (October 2005): 881-896 (on reserve)

--*Gary Andres, “The Contemporary Presidency: Polarization and White House/Legislative Relations: Causes and Consequences of Elite-Level Conflict,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 35 (December 2005): 761-770 (on reserve)

--*B. A. Rockman, “Presidential Leadership in an Era of Party Polarization – The George W. Bush Presidency” in Colin Campbell and Bert A. Rockman (eds.), The George W. Bush Presidency: Appraisals and Prospects (CQ Press: 2004), pp. 319-357 (on reserve)
VIII. Mediating the Presidential Agenda (2/23)


--Nelson, pp. 311-382 (Daniel Tichenor, “The Presidency and Interest Groups: Allies, Adversaries, and Policy Leadership”, pp. 311-341, and Sidney Milkis, “The Presidency and Political Parties”, pp. 342-382)
IX. Political and Governing Relations Inside the Beltway: Dealing with Congress (2/28, 3/2)


--Neustadt, Chapter 4 (pp. 50-72)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 269-285; 290-313; 375-392; 404-412

--Nelson, pp. 455-480 (Matthew Dickinson, “The President and Congress”), and pp. 508-532 (Paul J. Quirk & Bruce Nesmith, “Divided Government and Policymaking: Negotiating the Laws”)
X. The Presidency and the Courts (3/7)


--Nelson, pp. 481-507 (David Yalof, “The Presidency and the Judiciary)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 314-327
XI. The President, the Presidency, and the Executive Branch (3/9, 3/21)


--Neustadt, pp. 91-127

--Nelson, pp. 383-409 (John P. Burke, “The Institutional Presidency”), and pp. 533-556 (Andrew Rudalevige, “The President and the Cabinet”)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 195-215, 236-251, and 258-268

--*David Lewis, “Staffing Alone: Unilateral Action and the Politicization of the Executive Office of the President, 1988-2004,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 35 (September 2005): 496-514 (on reserve)

SPRING BREAK --- 3/13---3/18
XII. The Presidency and the Permanent Bureaucracy (3/23, 3/28, 3/30)


--Nelson, pp. 410-429 (David Lewis, “Presidents and the Bureaucracy: Management Imperatives in a Separation of Powers System”)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 251-257

--*Joel D. Aberbach and Bert A. Rockman, In the Web of Politics: Three Decades of the US Federal Executive (Brookings Institution Press: 2000) Chptr 6 (“Political Responsiveness: Facts and Fables”, pp. 100-133) – (on reserve)
XIII. Presidential Variability: Individuals in Office (4/4, 4/6, 4/11)


--Neustadt, Chapters 7 & 8 (pp. 128-163)

--Nelson, pp. 136-169

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 424-446

--*Bert A. Rockman, The Leadership Question: The Presidency and the American System (Praeger: 1985), Chptr 6 (“’Persona’ and Presidential Leadership”, pp. 175-219) – (on reserve)
XIV. An “Imperial” or An “Imperiled” Presidency? – Presidential Powers or Presidential Power? (4/13, 4/18 – No Class on 4/20)


--Nelson, pp. 557-575 (Andrew Polsky, “The President at War”)

--Pfiffner & Davidson, pp. 386-392; 416-424; 446-468

--*William G. Howell, “Unilateral Powers: A Brief Overview”, Presidential Studies Quarterly 35 (September 2005): 417-439
XV. The Presidency in the American System: Appraisals and Reappraisals (4/25, 4/27)

No Reading!


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