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Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior

Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina

Genevieve M. Kehoe

Publication Year: 2014

Presidents of nations with constitutionally imposed term limits are often viewed as growing weaker as they approach the end of their time in office. However, in this important new study, political scientist Genevieve M. Kehoe argues that because such chief executives are free from reelection constraint and often still enthusiastic to create a legacy by pursuing bold projects, they may accomplish significant initiatives. Kehoe has developed a concept for this which she calls “Terminal Logic Behavior” (TLB).

Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina provides both case studies and quantitative evidence to show how US presidents of the last three decades have utilized decrees on foreign, domestic, and environment policy during their final months in office. She finds a systematic pattern of decree use consistent with the mark of TLB in a most unexpected place—presidents’ use of national emergency powers. In a careful comparative analysis, she also finds support for her argument in the Argentinean and Brazilian experience of the same period.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership

Front Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

In researching and writing this book, I have benefited immensely from the support and assistance of a number of individuals. I would like to begin by thanking the faculty of the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina for their support and encouragement. Their advice, editorial comments, and encouragement have been invaluable. Special thanks are due to Harvey Starr for his emphasis on theory and research design; to Lee D. Walker for...

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Chapter 1: Presidents and Executive Term Structure

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pp. 1-15

Final- term presidents should be more properly termed “soaring eagles” rather than “lame ducks.”1 Significant things are pushed and accomplished, precisely because these presidents are free from reelection constraint and enthused by legacy to pursue bold projects—and they have the power to make it happen. This book addresses what Pallitto and Weaver (2007, 12) call “an enormous scholarly blind spot” in the study of the presidency—institutional analysis....

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Chapter 2: Institutionalism: Presidential Behavior and the Rule of Law

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pp. 16-37

The context of this research has a focus like that of the early institutionalists— on the interaction between the rule of law and political practice.1 I am interested in the institution of term limits and how it structures presidential behavior. The term institution has come to describe many things, and, arguably, it has so much so that its unrestricted inclusivity often detracts from...

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Chapter 3: The Motivational Structure of Terminal Presidents: What to Expect and Why

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pp. 38-55

In chapter 2 I review research on how actors in the political process change their behavior in anticipation of the end of a president’s tenure and find that a surprising few address this topic when it concerns the president personally. Studies of outgoing presidents often show a strong prescriptive element that instructs them on the “dos and don’ts” of the outgoing administration. Because...

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Chapter 4: Changing the Status Quo: The Decree Power of US Presidents

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pp. 56-82

Chapter 3 develops a theory of terminal logic behavior (TLB) and seeks to fit its logic into a broader explanation of political behavior. The chapter addresses the overall structure of predetermined terms and the likely effects of this structure has on presidential behavior and other actors in the political process. The structural effects of fixed terms are assumed to be generalizable, a consequence of a fundamental relational structure invariant in all cultures,...

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Chapter 5: Terminal Logic Behavior of US Presidents

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pp. 83-106

The period under review for the US analysis begins in January 1977 and ends in January 2009. In chapter 1 I explain why 1977 is the proper starting point for analysis. Recall that Congress passed the National Emergencies Act (NEA) in 1976 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) in 1977. With 1977 as our starting point, we can analyze presidents’ use ...

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Chapter 6: Decree Power in Argentina and Brazil

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pp. 107-142

In chapter 4, I briefly discussed the link between proactive power and presidential initiative and the reasons that such powers, specifically decrees, make for valid data in determining the existence of TLB. Recall that proactive presidential powers are associated with change in the status quo, specifically change that Congress would not have brought about on its own. Although presidents may possess a number of tools that allow them to exercise proactive power, I focus ...

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Chapter 7: Terminal Logic Behavior in Argentina and Brazil: A Comparative Look

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pp. 143-161

What we find in this chapter is that the TLB hypothesis also works for presidential behavior outside the United States. Presidents Cardoso, Lula, Menem, and Kirchner drastically increased their use of decrees during their final month in office—just as the presidents of the United States did. Presidents may be from different parties and stand ideologically opposed....

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Chapter 8: Anticipating the Effects of Terminal Logic Behavior: Avenues of Future Inquiry

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pp. 162-172

Why do some countries succeed where others fail? Why do the budding democratic waves of some countries fall into chaos while other countries embrace the processes of modernization and the social change that comes with them? In his analysis of the global state of democracy, Diamond (2000, 418) states that “no period in world history has a wider expansion of the...


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pp. 173-176


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pp. 177-202


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pp. 203-220


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pp. 221-232

Series Page

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pp. 233-238

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781623491604
E-ISBN-10: 1623491606
Print-ISBN-13: 9781623491260

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
Series Editor Byline: Pfiffner, James P. See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 879244224
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Executive power -- United States -- History.
  • Executive power -- Argentina -- History.
  • Executive power -- Brazil -- History.
  • Presidents -- Term of office -- United States -- History.
  • Presidents -- Term of office -- Argentina -- History.
  • Presidents -- Term of office -- Brazil -- History.
  • Administrative procedure -- United States.
  • Administrative procedure -- Argentina.
  • Administrative procedure -- Brazil.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1981-1989.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-.
  • Argentina -- Politics and government -- 1983-2002.
  • Brazil -- Politics and government -- 1985-2002.
  • Brazil -- Politics and government -- 2003-.
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