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Presidential Leadership Dilemma, The

Between the Constitution and a Political Party

Julia R. Azari, Lara M. Brown, Zim G. Nwokora

Publication Year: 2013

Examines how the president balances the competing demands of leading his political party and leading the nation.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

As with all books, a journey was involved in the completion of this one. It traces its origins back to a conversation between two junior scholars about the role of presidents as both adept politicians and august constitutional executives. Over a postpanel coffee at the 2007 Midwest Political Science Association meeting, Julia Azari and Lara Brown contemplated how it...

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Introduction A Rock and a Hard Place

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pp. 1-16

On December 7, 2010, President Barack Obama held a news conference to push back against the criticism leveled at him by congressional Democrats and liberal media commentators for compromising on tax legislation with congressional Republicans. Even though Obama offered an analogy placing Republicans in the role of “hostage takers,” he chided his fellow...

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1 Pathways to the Nomination

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pp. 17-38

As discussed in the introduction, the presidential selection process is a key reason for the existence of the leadership dilemma. The selection mechanisms force presidents to develop strategies to win in an intraparty contest and an interparty contest, before they may govern for the entire nation. This chapter examines the first stage, the nomination contest. The...

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2Presidential Mandates and theLeadership Dilemma

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pp. 39-60

The presidential mandate involves more perception than reality. Discerning the true intentions of voters or distilling a central meaning out of millions of votes almost always proves impossible.1 As a result, presidents enjoy substantial freedom to offer their own interpretations of the electoral “mandate.” Scholars have linked the effectiveness of mandate ...

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3 Playing for History

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pp. 61-88

Leadership is not about inflamed ambitions, lofty visions, or extraordinary times. Rather, leadership is about how a president pursues his aims and reacts to other political actors, events, and circumstances.1 Considering this volume’s interest in whether presidential leadership derives more from “structure” or more from “agency,” this chapter contends that even...

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4 Presidents, Leverage, and Significant Public Policy

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pp. 89-112

The year 1994 was not good for President Bill Clinton. The failure of health care reform early in his administration helped spawn political weakness, an example of which was his inability to pass any sort of health care bill, his top domestic priority. This was particularly stinging since his party, the Democrats, controlled Congress. During midterm election ...

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5 The Base Realignment and Closing Commission

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pp. 113-138

In 1995, President Bill Clinton faced an opposition Congress, newly elected in the GOP wave of 1994, an economy that was still recovering from the recession in the early 1990s. With his 1996 reelection in mind, Clinton was confronted with the legislative mandate that came out of PL 101–510, which established three rounds of domestic military base closures,...

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6 The Paradoxes of Presidential Leadership in Pursuing Policy Goals

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pp. 139-158

The president of the United States is the leader of his or her political party, and, at the same time, the head of the nation. These two jobs often come in conflict with each other, and frequently this conflict affects how a president deals with inherited agendas and other changes in policy that the president desires. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each faced this conflict ...

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7Taking Credit and Avoiding Blame

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pp. 159-184

In June 2009, President Obama acted like many of his predecessors: he assembled a mix of politicians and regular citizens to stand behind him as he signed an important piece of legislation into law. The bill, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, was designed to blunt the consequences of smoking-related illnesses that affect “more than 8 ...

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8President Obama andCounterterrorism Policy

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pp. 185-212

As the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign speeches were laced with sharp criticism of President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policy. Obama was consistent in his condemnation of indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo, harsh interrogation tactics amounting to torture, use of military commissions...

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ConclusionThe Right Choice at the Right Time

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pp. 213-220

In this volume we have asked: how do contemporary presidents balance countervailing pressures to serve as party leaders and act as the nation’s leader? In other words, do presidents lean more toward upholding their constitutional obligation “to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and engage in national leadership, or do they interpret...


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pp. 221-240


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pp. 241-244


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pp. 245-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781438446011
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438446004

Page Count: 259
Publication Year: 2013