- The "Barberian" Presidency: Theoretical and Empirical Readings, and: The Rating Game in American Politics: An Interdisciplinary Approach (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 35, Number 4, December 1989
- pp. 356-358
- View Citation
- Additional Information
356CIVIL WAR HISTORY Missing from the volume is a chapter which focuses on the sources of Lincoln's ideas and what in his background accounts for his political philosophy . This should be part ofa total portrait ofa public speaker who has influenced American history to the extent that Lincoln has. A chapter on the Lincoln-Douglas Debates similar to those that Braden wrote on the three major addresses would have added to the volume as well. Braden's analysis of what Lincoln said in these debates is superficial and collapsed with other campaign speaking between 1854 and 1860. 1 would like to have seen more rhetorical analysis of how he answered Douglas on the issues. Only 1 19 pages, the book easily could have included several more chapters . This reader received the impression that the book was published more to bring together previously published articles than it was to plough new ground as a majorand comprehensive study of Lincoln as a persuader. The one fact that weakens this impression is that the most substantial chapters in the book—the public image, the analyses ofthe two inaugural addresses, and the speech preparation—were newly written for this volume. But Braden might have enlarged the scope ofhis book to include moreanalysis of the classical notion of rhetorical invention. This would have improved the appeal to historians as wellas rhetorical critics. The book stands well on its own merits, however, and is a delightful little volume that does credit to Professor Braden's well-known knowledge of history and criticism of American public address. D. Ray Heisey Kent State University The "Barberian"Presidency: Theoretical and Empirical Readings. Edited by William David Pederson. (New York, Bern, Frankfort am Main, Paris: Peter Lang Publishers, c. 1989. Pp. ix, 265. $60.00.) The Rating Game in American Politics: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Edited by William D. Pederson and Ann M. McLaurin. (New York: Irvington Publishers Inc., c. 1987. Pp. ix, 410. $39.50.) A mark of distinction is to have a political or historical interpretation named for the originator of the idea. Historians can point to Frederick Jackson Turner as an enduring example. For political scientists, James David Barber of Duke University has achieved similar status in his original interpretation ofpresidential personality. The two books reviewed here are collections of essays on character, personality, and behavior assessments that take their lead from a "Barberian" perspective. William David Pederson is the editor of both collections and affords the reader a varied, if at times uneven, sampling ofessays. Some ofthe previously published works BOOK REVIEWS357 have appeared in such diverse places as Psychology Today, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. Both books have a political science orientation, but remain relatively free ofjargon. The "Barberian " Presidency combines both theoretical and empirical essays utilizing psychological and comparative case studies. For those not familiar with Barber's work, the editors provide five essays by Professor Barber. Briefly stated, Barber's test of presidential character clusters around four personality types: active or passive in their professional arena, and positive or negative in terms ofenjoyment. Those uneasy over psychosocial interpretations may feel somewhat assuaged by Michael Boyd Nelson 's critique of Barber and the psychological presidency. The most relevant and engaging essay for readers of CWH is Jeffrey Tulis' essay on "Presidential Character" as applied to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Tulis applies the Barberian model to the world of Lincoln & Douglas with some interesting results. Lincoln, according to Barber's model, is "the worst type of president . . . ," an active-negative (229). This is quite a contrary thought, says Tulis, since "Lincoln is widely regarded as America's greatest president" (229). Scholars of the midnineteenth century will find the essay facile and will welcome thejudicious evaluations of the often neglected Douglas. Tulis recognizes the contributions of Barber to our understanding of the modern presidency, but is also aware ofthe limitations of Barber's criteria for the mid-nineteenth century. The temptation to apply a Barberian model to the 1850s raises unique problems. For example, Barber gives little weight to the political content of issues. Tulis recognizes this drawback when analyzing the politics of the Lincoln-Douglas candidacies. From 1 856 on...