America's Political Dynasties: From Adams to Clinton

Brookings Institution Press
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The Constitution states that "no title of nobility shall be granted by the United States," yet it seems political nobility is as American as apple pie.

America was founded in rebellion against nobility and inherited status. Yet from the start, dynastic families have been conspicuous in national politics. The Adamses. The Lodges. The Tafts. The Roosevelts. The Kennedys. And today the Bushes and the Clintons.

Longtime presidential historian Stephen Hess offers an encyclopedic tour of the families that have loomed large over America's political history.

Starting with John Adams, who served as the young nation's first vice president and earned the nickname "His Rotundity," Hess paints the portraits of the men and women who, by coincidence, connivance, or sheer sense of duty, have made up America's political elite. There are the well-known dynasties such as the Roosevelts and the Kennedys, and the names that live on only in history books, such as the Bayards (six generations of U.S. senators) and the Breckinridges (a vice president, two senators, and six representatives).

Hess fills the pages of America's Political Dynasties with anecdotes and personality-filled stories of the families who have given the United States more than a fair share of its presidents, senators, governors, ambassadors, and cabinet members.

This book also tells us the stories of the Bushes and what looks to be a political dynasty in waiting, the Clintons. Emblematic of America's growing diversity, Hess also examines how women, along with ethnic and racial minorities, have joined the ranks of dynastic political families.

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About the author

Stephen Hess, senior fellow emeritus in Governance Studies at Brookings, began his career in Washington as a young speechwriter for President Eisenhower (1958–61). He was Distinguished Research Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University (2004–09). His numerous books, now translated into thirty languages, include the The Professor and The President: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House (Brookings Institution Press, 2014).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Nov 24, 2015
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Pages
800
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ISBN
9780815727101
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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What happens when a conservative president makes a liberal professor from the Ivy League his top urban affairs adviser? The president is Richard Nixon, the professor is Harvard's Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Of all the odd couples in American public life, they are probably the oddest. Add another Ivy League professor to the White House staff when Nixon appoints Columbia's Arthur Burns, a conservative economist, as domestic policy adviser. The year is 1969, and what follows behind closed doors is a passionate debate of conflicting ideologies and personalities.

Who won? How? Why? Now nearly a half-century later, Stephen Hess, who was Nixon's biographer and Moynihan's deputy, recounts this fascinating story as if from his office in the West Wing.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003) described in the Almanac of American Politics as "the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson", served in the administrations of four presidents, was ambassador to India, and U.S. representative to the United Nations, and was four times elected to the U.S. Senate from New York.

Praise for the works of Stephen Hess

Organzing the Presidency

Any president would benefit from reading Mr. Hess's analysis and any reader will enjoy the elegance with which it is written and the author's wide knowledge and good sense. -The Economist

The Presidential Campaign

Hess brings not only first-rate credentials, but a cool, dispassionate perspective, an incisive analytical approach, and a willingness to stick his neck out in making judgments. -American Political Science Review

From the Newswork Series

It is not much in vogue to speak of things like the public trust, but thankfully Stephen Hess is old fashioned. He reminds us in this valuable and provocative book that journalism is a public trust, providing the basic information on which citizens in a democracy vote, or tune out. — Ken Auletta, The New Yorker

A guide to competencies needed by the federal government’s new top officials.

The transition from one president to another, regardless of which party wins the 2016 elections, will mean many things, one of which is that some 3,000 to 4,000 new senior presidential appointees will take office in the first months of 2017. They will join some 6,000 members of the Senior Executive Service and nearly 1,000 admirals and generals already working in the top ranks of government.

But the little-known truth is that the federal government has no formal, or even informal, continual learning program for its new high-level managers. If history is a guide, many of the next president's appointees will never have served in the federal government or, indeed, at any level of government. This means that they will need to hone their considerable skills to meet new challenges.

This new, revised, and updated edition of the The Presidential Appointee’s Handbook is intended to fill the need for learning by helping new presidential appointees develop the knowledge, skills, and capabilities they will need in their challenging assignments. Additionally, the new edition provides frameworks for success in areas such as strategic foresight, planning for results, risk management, and resilience that are designed to give appointees templates for achieving their goals.

Blending theory with the demands of day-to-day practice, the book clarifies the roles and responsibilities of top government executives, helps them build a network of shared experiences and relationships, and lays out common competencies and codes of proper behavior for government leaders at all levels.

The period from Election Day to Inauguration Day in America seems impossibly short. Newly elected U.S. presidents have less than eleven weeks to construct a new government composed of supporters and strangers, hailing from all parts of the nation. This unique and daunting process always involves at least some mistakes—in hiring, perhaps, or in policy priorities, or organizational design. Early blunders can carry serious consequences well into a president's term; minimizing them from the outset is critical. In What Do We Do Now? Stephen Hess draws from his long experience as a White House staffer and presidential adviser to show what can be done to make presidential transitions go smoothly. Here is a workbook to guide future chief executives, decision by decision, through the minefield of transition. You'll have to start at the beginning, settling on a management style and knowing how to "arrange all the boxes." Something as seemingly mundane as parceling office space can be consequential—hence the inclusion of a proposed White House organizational chart and floor plans of the West Wing. What qualities are needed for each job, and where are the best candidates for those positions most likely to be found? How can you construct a cabinet that "looks like America"? What Do We Do Now? is your indispensable guide through the thicket of these decisions. There are small decisions, too. You'll have to pick a desk—photos of the choices are included. Which presidential portraits should hang in the Oval Office? Which ones have previous presidents chosen? And when it comes time to write an inaugural address, what should be the content, theme, and tone? It's all here in the presidential transition workbook—don't leave for Washington without it. This concise volume is sure to be a valuable resource for the president and team of advisers as they attempt to herd cats into an effective government. o W e Do Now? is alsis also a delightful read for anyone interested in exactly how one goes about being the president of the United States.
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