Texas A&M University Press

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

Pfiffner, James P.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

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

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Bridging the Constitutional Divide

Inside the White House Office of Legislative Affairs

Edited with introduction by Russell L. Riley

In September 2003, seven former heads of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs gathered for the first time ever to compare their experiences working for every president from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. For two days, these congressional liaisons, charged with moving their respective presidents’ legislative agendas through an independent—and sometimes hostile—Congress, shared first-hand views of the intricacies of presidential-congressional relations: how it works, how it doesn’t work, and the fascinating interplay of personalities, events, and politics that happens along the way. Hosted by noted presidential scholar Russell Riley and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, this seminar also featured a number of invited scholars of American politics, including the eminent Richard E. Neustadt, who appeared just before his death a month later. As explained by Riley, “. . . these discussions enlighten in two ways: they provide us a revealing glimpse into the inside, usually hidden, business of Washington, and they afford us the considered reflections of a thoughtful group of political veterans.” What makes these exchanges especially compelling, however, is their bipartisan cast, with Republicans Max L. Friedersdorf, William L. Ball III, and Frederick McClure joining Democrats Frank Moore, Charles M. Brain, John Hilley, and Lawrence Stein in thoughtful and friendly conversation.  

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Character Factor

How We Judge America's Presidents

By James P. Pfiffner

WATERGATE. MONICA LEWINSKY. PAINKILLERS IN THE OVAL OFFICE. IRAN-CONTRA. READ MY LIPS. THE CHARACTER FACTOR. The American president’s character matters. To most Americans, it matters deeply. But how do we define what character means, and why can’t we agree? In this sober, probing consideration of “the character factor” and the presidency, veteran political analyst James P. Pfiffner leads us through a survey of three aspects of presidential character that have proved problematic for recent chief executives: lies, promise-keeping, and sexual probity. His goal is not to tell us which presidents have been “good” and which “bad.” Rather, he helps us think critically and impartially about complex character issues and invites us to reach our own conclusions. The Character Factor avoids both the abyss of moral relativism and the desert of political cynicism. It helps us look at our presidents (and our presidential candidates) without illusions, knowing that flawed men can still be great leaders but that some flaws deserve defeat at the polls—or even the ultimate presidential sanction, impeachment.

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The Clinton Presidency and the Constitutional System

Edited by Rosanna Perotti

Presidential scholars, former and current policymakers, and a former president bring varied insights and analyses to consider the impact, influence, and legacy of the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton, the “'New Democrat' from Hope, Arkansas." In the eight years between 1993 and 2001, the Clinton White House presided over a booming economy that included a budget surplus in Clinton’s second term, oversaw the most significant welfare reform since the New Deal, and wrestled with the challenge of developing a foreign-policy vision for the post–Cold War era. Structurally, the Clinton presidency expanded the office and responsibilities of the First Lady and the Vice President to an unprecedented degree, prevailed in a budget battle with Congress that included two government shutdowns, briefly employed a line-item veto until the Supreme Court declared that power unconstitutional, and endured the second impeachment of the chief executive in American history. The evolution and consequences of the increased power held by modern presidents became sharply evident during the Clinton years. In The Clinton Presidency and the Constitutional System, based on the Eleventh Presidential Conference at Hofstra University, readers are afforded a unique combination of scholarly analysis and the perspectives of former administration officials. Students and scholars of the presidency will glean important understandings from the balanced, judicious studies of the Clinton administration and their juxtaposition with firsthand recollections of some of the participants who defined and shaped those events.

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Eleventh Hour

The Politics of Policy Initiatives in Presidential Transitions

David M. Shafie

Pres. Jimmy Carter issued last-minute rules immediately before leaving the White House, creating frustration for the incoming Reagan Administration. As George W. Bush prepared to cede the Oval Office to Barack Obama almost three decades later, he ordered more than thirty last-minute policy changes, quickly finalizing the rules before the Obama Administration could overturn them.

Presidents are able to bypass Congress and quietly initiate significant policy changes by using the executive branch’s authority to alter existing statutes. In Eleventh Hour: The Politics of Policy Initiatives in Presidential Transitions, David M. Shafie analyzes how and why five successive presidents have done so at the end of their administrations, offering important new insights for the growing study of the administrative presidency.

After assessing transcripts of speeches and staff communications, such as memos from the White House Domestic Policy offices, memos from selected regulatory agencies and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as records in the Clinton, Reagan, George (H. W.) Bush, and Carter Presidential Libraries, Shafie also conducted in-depth interviews with administration personnel charged with formulating and implementing the executive rule changes. Based on his research, Shafie explains end-of-term rulemaking as an instrument of presidential prerogative power by mapping its evolution through five recent presidential transitions and exploring its effectiveness, consequences, and implications.

Giving consideration to recent efforts to limit interregnum rulemaking and to overturn specific late-term rules, as well as evaluating the prospects for future presidents to favor this instrument to advance their unfinished domestic policy priorities, Eleventh Hour offers groundbreaking research into the uses of executive power.

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Honest Broker?

The National Security Advisor and Presidential Decision Making

By John P. Burke

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” “Who will be guarding the guardians?”—Juvenal The U.S. president’s decisions on national security and foreign policy reverberate around the world. The National Security Council (NSC) and the national security advisor are central to the decision making process. But how was the role of the national security advisor originally understood, and how has that understanding changed over time? Above all, how has the changing role of the national security advisor affected executive decisions and the implementation of policy? Now, presidential scholar John P. Burke systematically and thoroughly addresses these questions. In Honest Broker?, he reviews the office of national security advisor from its inception during the Eisenhower presidency to its latest iteration in the White House of George W. Bush. He explores the ways in which the original conception of the national security advisor—as an “honest broker” who, rather than directly advocate for any certain policy direction, was instead charged with overseeing the fairness, completeness, and accuracy of the policymaking process—has evolved over time. In six case studies he then analyzes the implications of certain pivotal changes in the advisor’s role, providing thoughtful and sometimes critical reflections on how these changes square with the role of “honest broker.” Finally, Burke offers some prescriptive consideration of how the definition of the national security advisor’s role relates to effective presidential decision making and the crucial issues of American national security. Honest Broker? will be an important resource for scholars, students, political leaders, and general readers interested in the U.S. presidency, foreign policy, and national security

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Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency

The U.S. Bureau of Efficiency, 1916-1933

By Mordecai Lee

With its creation of the U.S. Bureau of Efficiency in 1916, Congress sought to bring the principles of “scientific management” to the federal government. Although this first staff agency in the executive branch lasted only a relatively short time, it was the first central agency in the federal government dedicated to improving the management of the executive branch. Mordecai Lee offers both a chronological history of the agency and a thematic treatment of the structure, staffing, and work processes of the bureau; its substantive activities; and its effects on the development of both the executive and the legislative branches. Charged with conducting management and policy analyses at the direction of the president, this bureau presaged the emergence of the activist and modern executive branch. The Bureau of Efficiency was also the first legislative branch agency, ushering in the large administrative infrastructure that now supports the policy-making and program oversight roles of Congress. The Bureau of Efficiency’s assistance to presidents foreshadowed the eventual change in the role of the president vis-a-vis Congress; it helped upend the separation of powers doctrine by giving the modern executive the management tools for preeminence over the legislative branch.

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Leadership of George Bush

An Insider's View of the Forty-first President

By Roman Popadiuk

Author Roman Popadiuk served in the Bush White House from 1989 to 1992 as deputy assistant to the president and deputy press secretary for foreign affairs. In that capacity, he was closely involved with many of the day-to-day decisions of the administration during a momentous period that saw the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the rise of a new global coalition, the curbing of a dictator’s expansionist policies in the Middle East, and shifting domestic, economic, and political currents.    In this important volume, Popadiuk examines the ways in which the personal leadership style of George Bush influenced the formation and execution of policy. Popadiuk composes a mosaic of events, quotations, and observations that yield a broad view of the ways in which a president’s personal qualities and philosophies impinge upon leadership options.    General readers and public service professionals will find The Leadership of George Bush informative and enlightening, and scholars of the presidency and public policy will discover new avenues for research on both the Bush administration and executive leadership and policy. 

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Nerve Center

Lessons in Governing from the White House Chiefs of Staff

Edited by Terry Sullivan; Foreword by James A. Baker III

In what James A. Baker III has called the “worst job in Washington,” the chief of staff orchestrates the president’s conduct of the U.S. government. He holds the unique responsibility to magnify the time, reach, and voice of the president of the United States. “You need a filter, a person that you have total confidence in who works so closely with you that in effect he is almost an alter ego,” Gerald Ford has said. In this volume, resulting from the Washington Forum on the Role of the White House Chief of Staff held in 2000 in Washington, D.C., twelve of the fifteen men who have held the office of chief of staff discuss among themselves and with a select group of participants the challenges, achievements, and failures of their time in that role. Their purpose is to find lessons in governing that will help future chiefs of staff prepare to assume the office and organize the staffs they will lead. These pages of frank and uncensored discussion present in straightforward question-and-answer format the voices of the chiefs of staff themselves concerning the transition from campaign to governance, with its reorganization and refocusing of the president’s team, the reelection drive four years later, and eventually, the closing out of an administration. The group also addresses the place of the White House chief of staff within the larger governing community of the Executive Branch, Congress, interest groups, and the press. The American White House sits at the nerve center of world history, and at the core of this nerve center, a massive bureaucratic operation exists to process the flow of information and policy. The White House chief of staff manages that operation. So important has that office become, that to ignore its requirements risks presidential fate itself and indeed, the fate of the republic.

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Nixon's Business

Authority and Power in Presidential Politics

By Nigel Bowles

Richard Nixon considered establishing a strong peacetime economy one of his most important political objectives, [not least for] distinguishing himself from the cautious policies of President Dwight Eisenhower. Using Richard Neustadt’s analytical framework of presidential power, Nigel Bowles develops five case studies around President Nixon’s economic policies. The thoughtful, insightful analysis goes far to help us understand the sources of Richard Nixon’s authority and power, and his use of both. For each of the “issue-stories” (as Bowles terms them), he considers the president’s bargaining advantages: his authority (constitutional and statutory), popular prestige, and personal qualities. He then answers Neustadt’s twin questions: “What was the president’s inheritance?” and “What was his legacy?” Bowles’s chosen cases represent fiscal policy, wage and price policy, international monetary policy, and domestic monetary policy. Through these analyses, Bowles offers new perspectives on Nixon’s use of authority and power; his dealings with and views of senior politicians and power-brokers; his ruthlessness and political ingenuity; the ways his experiences as congressman, senator, and vice president shaped his approach to the presidency; and his subordination of other objectives to his drive for re-election in 1972. He concludes that Nixon used the limited authority he had under the separation of powers to the fullest degree, often thereby augmenting his power in the short-term, but undermining it in the longer-term. Nixon’s Business is the first book to make systematic use of Neustadt’s crucial framework in understanding a specific presidency; the first to analyze empirically the components of Nixon’s authority and power; and the first to demonstrate the implications of both for understanding the institution of the United States presidency.

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Nixon's Super-Secretaries

The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort

By Mordecai Lee

The Watergate scandal of 1973 claimed many casualties, political and otherwise. Along with many personal reputations and careers, President Richard Nixon’s bold attempt to achieve a sweeping reorganization of the domestic portion of the executive branch was also pulled into the vortex. Now, Mordecai Lee examines Nixon’s reorganization, finding it notable for two reasons. First, it was sweeping in intent and scope, representing a complete overhaul in the way the president would oversee and implement his domestic agenda. Second, the president instituted the reorganization administratively—by appointment of three “super-secretaries”—without congressional approval. The latter aspect generated ire among some members of Congress, notably Sam Ervin, a previously little-known senator from North Carolina who chaired the Government Operations Committee and, soon after, the Senate’s Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities—known to the public as “the Watergate Committee.” Asserting that Nixon’s reorganization effort represents a significant event in the evolution of the managerial presidency and public administration, Nixon’s Super-Secretaries presents the most comprehensive historical narrative to date concerning this reorganization attempt. The author has utilized previously untapped original and primary sources to provide unprecedented detail on the inner workings, intentions, and ultimate demise of Nixon’s ambitious plan to reorganize the sprawling federal bureaucracy.

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