Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

Failure should not be an option in the presidency, but for too long it has been the norm.

From the botched attempt to rescue the U.S. diplomats held hostage by Iran in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and the missed intelligence on Al Qaeda before 9-11 under George W. Bush to, most recently, the computer meltdown that marked the arrival of health care reform under Barack Obama, the American presidency has been a profile in failure. In Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again, Elaine Kamarck surveys these and other recent presidential failures to understand why Americans have lost faith in their leaders—and how they can get it back.

Kamarck argues that presidents today spend too much time talking and not enough time governing, and that they have allowed themselves to become more and more distant from the federal bureaucracy that is supposed to implement policy. After decades of "imperial" and "rhetorical" presidencies, we are in need of a "managerial" president. This White House insider and former Harvard academic explains the difficulties of governing in our modern political landscape, and offers examples and recommendations of how our next president can not only recreate faith in leadership but also run a competent, successful administration.
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About the author

Elaine C. Kamarck is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and the founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management. She is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a public sector scholar with wide experience in government, academia, and politics. Kamarck is an expert on government innovation and reform in the United States, OECD countries, and developing countries. In addition, she focuses her research on the presidential nomination system and American politics and has worked in several American presidential campaigns.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jul 26, 2016
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780815727798
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
Political Science / American Government / National
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Elaine C. Kamarck
The 2008 presidential primaries produced more drama than many general election campaigns. John McCain overcame the near-implosion of his campaign to capture the Republican nomination by March, despite a strong challenge from quotable pastor-turned-governor Mike Huckabee. Hillary Clinton entered the Democratic race as the heavy favorite, only to fall to a first-term senator from Illinois in a battle that lasted into July. Democratic delegations from Florida and Michigan were unseated and reseated; superdelegates took to the airwaves; and millions of Americans heard of the "robot rule" for the first time.

In Primary Politics, political insider Elaine Kamarck explains how the presidential nomination process became the often baffling system we have today. Her focus is the largely untold story of how presidential candidates since the early 1970s have sought to alter the rules in their favor and how their failures and successes have led to even more change. She describes how candidates have sought to manipulate the sequencing of primaries to their advantage and how Iowa and New Hampshire came to dominate the system. She analyzes the rules that are used to translate votes into delegates, paying special attention to the Democrats' twenty-year fight over proportional representation. Kamarck illustrates how candidates have used the resulting delegate counts to create momentum, and she discusses the significance of the modern nominating convention. Drawing on meticulous research, interviews with key figures in both parties, and years of experience, this book explores one of the most important questions in American politics—how we narrow the list of presidential candidates every four years.

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Elaine C. Kamarck
The 2008 presidential primaries produced more drama than many general election campaigns. John McCain overcame the near-implosion of his campaign to capture the Republican nomination by March, despite a strong challenge from quotable pastor-turned-governor Mike Huckabee. Hillary Clinton entered the Democratic race as the heavy favorite, only to fall to a first-term senator from Illinois in a battle that lasted into July. Democratic delegations from Florida and Michigan were unseated and reseated; superdelegates took to the airwaves; and millions of Americans heard of the "robot rule" for the first time.

In Primary Politics, political insider Elaine Kamarck explains how the presidential nomination process became the often baffling system we have today. Her focus is the largely untold story of how presidential candidates since the early 1970s have sought to alter the rules in their favor and how their failures and successes have led to even more change. She describes how candidates have sought to manipulate the sequencing of primaries to their advantage and how Iowa and New Hampshire came to dominate the system. She analyzes the rules that are used to translate votes into delegates, paying special attention to the Democrats' twenty-year fight over proportional representation. Kamarck illustrates how candidates have used the resulting delegate counts to create momentum, and she discusses the significance of the modern nominating convention. Drawing on meticulous research, interviews with key figures in both parties, and years of experience, this book explores one of the most important questions in American politics—how we narrow the list of presidential candidates every four years.

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