1999-December


December 1999

Articles

  • Hard Times for Presidential Leadership? (And How Would We Know?)
    Joel D. Aberbach and Bert A. Rockman
  • A Time for Reckoning: Jimmy Carter and the Cult of Kinfolk
    Douglas Brinkley
  • Presidential Campaign Quality: What the Variance Implies
    Bruce Buchanan
  • Serving Competing Principals: The Budget Estimates of OMB and CBO in and Era of Divided Government
    Erik J. Engstrom and Samuel Kernell
  • Constructing the Electorate during Presidential Campaigns
    Roderick P. Hart and Mary C. Johnson
  • Unilateral Action and Presidential Power: A Theory
    Terry M. Moe and William G. Howell
  • Does Organization Matter? A Critical-Case Analysis from Recent Presidential Nomination Politics
    Barbara Trish

     

    Features

  • The Polls:
    The Dynamics of Presidential Favorability, 1991-1998
    Jeffrey E. Cohen
  • The Contemporary
    Presidency:
    Presidential Lies
    James P. Pfiffner
  • The Law:
    Executive Privilege: Definition and Standards of Application
    Mark J. Rozell
  • Source Material:
    Presidential Recordings as Presidential Data: Assessing LBJ’s Presidential Persuasive Attempts
    Terry Sullivan, Jennifer Hora, Luke Keele, Todd McNoldy, and Gregory Pettis

     

     

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    Hard Times for Presidential Leadership?
    (And How Would We Know?)

    Joel D. Aberbach
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Bert A. Rockman
    University of Pittsburgh

     

    This paper asks whether presidential leadership has become harder, and focuses on what would we need to know to answer that question. It examines several possible explanations for the "leadership is harder" hypothesis and argues that the combination of divided government and strong party differences has made presidential leadership more difficult. We conclude that while a maximalist conception of the presidency is unrealistic, presidents will do what they can to push their preferences and find loopholes to circumvent a recalcitrant Congress. Traditional forms of pluralist accommodation do not fare well in this climate of political confrontation.

     

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    A Time for Reckoning: Jimmy Carter
    and the Cult of Kinfolk

    Douglas Brinkley
    University of New Orleans

    This article focuses on former President Jimmy Carter’s geneology. It debunks the myth of the 1976 presidential campaign, chiseling away at the statue of the simple peanut farmer whose American roots took hold when a British indentured servant sold himself for transportation to the Virginia colony. Illustrated clearly is the importance of family history to Jimmy Carter. Framing the Carter family’s story within the larger context of Georgia history, the author narrates its passage from Kindred Carter’s first steps on Georgian soil to Jimmy Carter’s wanderings through the woods surrounding his hometown.

     

     

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    Presidential Campaign Quality:
    What the Variance Implies

    Bruce Buchanan
    University of Texas at Austin

    Preoccupation with presidential election results has yielded benign but regrettable neglect of other important election campaign outcomes. One important example is campaign quality, which I define in terms of pre-election behavior that can invite or discourage two kinds of political-system enhancing post-election results: problem solving energy (policy signals) and citizen allegiance (regime support). Here I use measures of these concepts and resulting data to show how campaigns vary significantly in quality. Evidence from the 1988, 1992 and 1996 presidential elections suggests that variation in voter demand best accounts for differences in campaign quality.

     

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    Serving Competing Principals: The
    Budget Estimates of
     OMB and CBO in an Era of Divided Government

    Erik J. Engstrom
    Samuel Kernell
    University of California, San Diego

    Battles over the federal budget have been at the heart of Washington politics over the past two decades. In assessing the potential consequences of fiscal policy choices, Congress and the president turn to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for spending and revenue estimates. While politicians carp about the partisanship of these agencies, previous scholarly research finds little evidence of bias. In this article, we attempt to clarify this debate by systematically exploring these estimates for signs of partisan bias. We examine differences between OMB and CBO estimates of the president’s budget since 1978 and find that agency differences are associated with party control of Congress and the presidency. During periods of divided government, when their principals may be expected to disagree most sharply about spending and taxes, these agencies’ expenditure projections diverge.

     

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    Constructing the Electorate During
    Presidential Campaigns

    Roderick P. Hart
    Mary C. Johnson
    University of Texas at Austin

    This study examines how the American electorate has been described by political campaigners between 1948 and 1996. Using a database of some 500 speeches given on the stump or during national political broadcasts, the authors isolated 898 uses of the phrase the American people. By examining these phrases for descriptions of the Roles, Actions, Qualities and Circumstances of the people, and by noting their time-orientation and the forces aligned against the electorate, the authors present a picture of the people-as-described. Generally speaking, the people live in the moment, focus on cognitive and axiological matters, serve as agents-of-the-state, and have an equal number of moral, intellectual, and psychological strengths. The texts also show that the people are bedeviled by government itself but a number of factors?? party, era, incumbency, campaign cycle, etc.?? affect the tenor of those characterizations.

     

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    Unilateral Action and Presidential
    Power: A Theory

    Terry M. Moe and William G. Howell
    Stanford University

    In this article, the authors explore a basis for presidential power that has gone largely unappreciated to this point but that has become so pivotal to presidential leadership that it virtually defines what is distinctively modern about the modern presidency. This is the president’s formal capacity to act unilaterally and thus to make law on his own. The purpose of the article is to outline a theory of this force in American politics precisely because they are not specified in the Constitution. They derive their strength and resilience from the ambiguity of the contract. The authors also argue that presidents have incentives to push this ambiguity relentlessly to expand their own powers–and that, for reasons rooted in the nature of their institutions, neither Congress nor the courts are likely to stop them.

     

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    Does Organization Matter?: A Critical-Case
    Analysis
     from Recent Presidential Nomination Politics

    Barbara Trish
    Grinnell College

    This articles examines presidential nomination politics in Iowa, considering the question of whether organization matters. It does so by analyzing the 1996 GOP nomination race in the state, with an eye towards the relationship between organization and caucus outcome. It approaches Iowa caucus politics as a critical-case, that is one for which the prospects for organizational impact are arguably as good as they get. Even so, the data suggest only conditional support for the proposition that organization matters, a finding that may call into question the presumed role of Iowa as the arena in which the underfunded and unknown nomination hopeful can succeed.

     

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    The Polls:
    The Dynamics of Presidential Favorability, 1991-1998

    Jeffrey E. Cohen
    Fordham University

    A presidential favorability time series is construct for the period 1991-1998. Although the favorability series is related to presidential job approval, the two series are not identical. Periods can be identified when favorability is greater than approval, as well as periods when approval is higher than favorability. Other possible sources of the dynamics of presidential favorability are discussed

     

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    The Contemporary Presidency: Presidential
    Lies

    James P. Pfiffner
    George Mason University

    In a republic based on the consent of the governed, citizens need accurate information in order to make informed decisions about elections and public policy. The purpose of this essay is to present some examples of lies in the modern presidency and argue that there is a range of lies, from those that are justifiable to those that are unacceptable. The presidential lies under consideration will be broken into three broad categories: justifiable lies, lies to prevent embarrassment (including some serious breaches of the public trust), and lies of policy deception. The essay concludes that we, as citizens, have the responsibility to examine the context of each lie before judging how it should be weighed in the overall assessment of a president.

     

     

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    Executive Privilege:
    Definition and Standards of Application

    Mark J. Rozell
    The Catholic University of America

    Executive privilege is the right of the president and high-level executive branch officials to withhold information from those with compulsory power – Congress and the courts (and, therefore, ultimately the public). Because it is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution and also due to the occasional abuses of that power, executive privilege is controversial. Although few today question the constitutionality of executive privilege, there is considerable debate about its proper scope and limits. This essay traces the historical development of the meaning and standards of executive privilege. The purpose is to show that disputes over executive privilege are best resolved through the normal ebb and flow of our separation of powers system and not through some statutory definition or precise court clarification of that power.

     

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    Presidential Recordings as Presidential
    Data: Assessing LBJ’s Presidential Persuasive Attempts

    Terry Sullivan, Jennifer Hora, Luke Keele, 
    Todd
    McNoldy, and Gregory Pettis
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    This paper evaluates the usefulness of one currently available set of presidential recordings, those of President Lyndon Johnson. It demonstrates that these recordings constitute a sample of the president’s phone conversations and a reasonable representation of his contacts with others. It demonstrates the use of these data in assessing presidential persuasion and activities. It also suggests how popular presentations of these data, through other published means, have distorted the picture of presidential activities.