The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction

Oxford University Press
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The expansion of executive powers amid the war on terrorism has brought the presidency to the center of heated public debate. Now, in The American Presidency, presidential authority Charles O. Jones provides invaluable background to the current controversy, in a compact, reliable guide to the office of the chief executive. This marvelously concise survey is packed with information about the presidency, some of it quite surprising. We learn, for example, that the Founders adopted the word "president" over "governor" and other alternatives because it suggested a light hand, as in one who presides, rather than rules. Indeed, the Constitutional Convention first agreed to a weak chief executive elected by congress for one seven-year term, later calling for independent election and separation of powers. Jones sheds much light on how assertive leaders, such as Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and FDR enhanced the power of the presidency, and illuminating how such factors as philosophy (Reagan's anti-Communist conservatism), the legacy of previous presidencies (Jimmy Carter following Watergate), relations with Congress, and the impact of outside events have all influenced presidential authority. He also explores the rise of federal power and the dramatic expansion of federal agencies, showing how the president takes a direct hand in this vast bureaucracy, and he examines the political process of selecting presidents, from the days of deadlocked conventions to the rise of the primary after World War II. "In 200 years," he writes, "the presidency had changed from that of a person--Washington followed by Adams, then Jefferson--to a presidential enterprise with a cast of thousands." Jones explains how this remarkable expansion has occurred and where it may lead in the future. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
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About the author

Charles O. Jones is Hawkins Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His many books include The Presidency in a Separated System, Clinton and Congress, 1993-1996, and Passages to the Presidency.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Aug 10, 2007
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9780199719150
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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This comprehensive two-volume guide is the definitive source for researchers seeking an understanding of those who have occupied the White House and on the institution of the U.S. presidency. Readers turn Guide to the Presidency and the Executive Branch for its wealth of facts and analytical chapters that explain the structure, powers, and operations of the office and the president’s relationship with Congress and the Supreme Court.

The fifth edition of this acclaimed reference completes coverage of the George W. Bush presidency, the 2008 election, and the first 3 years of the presidency of Barack Obama. This includes coverage of their handling of the economic crisis, wars abroad, and Obama’s healthcare initiatives. The work is divided into eight distinct subject areas covering every aspect of the U.S. presidency, and all chapters in each subject area have been revised and updated:

Origins and Development of the Presidency, including constitutional beginnings, history of the presidency and vice presidency, and presidential ratings

Selection and Removal of the President, including the electoral process, a chronology of presidential elections, removal of the president and vice president, and succession

Powers of the Presidency, including the unilateral powers of the presidency and those as chief of state, chief administrator, legislative leader, commander in chief, and chief economist

The President, the Public, and the Parties, including presidential appearances, the president and political parties, the president and the news media, the presidency and pop culture, public support and opinion, and the president and interest groups

The Presidency and the Executive Branch, including the White House Office, the Office of the Vice President, supporting organizations, the cabinet and executive departments, presidential commissions, and executive branch housing, pay, and perquisites

Chief Executive and Federal Government, including the president and Congress, the president and the Supreme Court, and the president and the bureaucracy

Presidents, their Families, and Life in the White House and Beyond, including the daily life of the president, the first lady, the first family, friends of presidents, and life after the presidency

Biographies of the Presidents, Vice Presidents, First Ladies

This new volume also features more than 200 textboxes, tables, and figures. Major revisions cover the supporting White House organizations and the president’s role as chief economist. Additional reference materials include explanatory headnotes, as well as hundreds of photographs with detailed captions.

Popular interpretations of American government tend to center on the presidency. Successes and failures of government are often attributed to presidents themselves. But, though the White House stands as a powerful symbol of government, the United States has a separated system intentionally designed to distribute power, not to concentrate it. Charles O. Jones explains that focusing exclusively on the presidency can lead to a seriously distorted picture of how the national government works. The role of the president varies widely, depending on his resources, advantages, and strategic position. Public expectations often far exceed the president's personal, political, institutional, or constitutional capacities for achievement. Jones explores how presidents find their place in the permanent government and how they are "fitted in" by others, most notably those on Capitol Hill. This book shows how a separated system of government works under the circumstances created by the Constitution and encouraged by a two-party system. Jones examines the organizational challenges facing presidents, their public standing and what it means, presidential agendas and mandates, and lawmaking—how it works, where the president fits in, and how it varies from issue to issue. He compares the post-World War II presidents and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each in working within the separated system. Jones proposes a view of government as a legitimate, even productive, form of decisionmaking and emphasizes the varying strategies available to presidents for governing. He concludes with a number of important lessons for presidents and advice on how to make the separated system work better.
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