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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2008

GOV 330K • The American President

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39265 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ B0.306
Buchanan, B

Course Description

This course explores the nature of presidential leadership through an examination of the leadership strategies of past presidents and the current incumbent. The goals are to deepen your understanding of how the presidency works, and to sharpen your ability to assess the qualifications of candidates and the job performance of presidents.

The course is organized into the following three parts and associated lecture topics. A. Development of the Presidency: How and why did presidential power grow? What does presidential history teach the American people to expect of presidents? How does historical precedent affect current presidential performance? 1. Introduction: Functions and Values 2. The Presidency Defined and Launched 3. The Presidency Democratized: Jefferson and Jackson 4. Presidential Morality and Power: Polk and Lincoln 5. The Presidency Modernized: TR, Wilson, FDR 6. Why Judgments Change: Truman, Eisenhower, JFK 7. The Impact of Vietnam and Watergate: LBJ and Nixon 8. Preliminary Appraisals: From Ford to Bush II 9. The Legacy: Expectations and Exemplars B. Current Presidential Operations: What are the responsibilities of the institution, and what resources are available to meet them? What are the "state of the art" strategies for deploying resources to achieve a president's political and policy objectives? How can the quality of a president's performance in office be reasonably measured? 1. Introduction: The Grounds for Judgment 2. The Campaign for Office 3. The Domestic Policy Arena 4. Confronting Congress 5 Media 6. The Budget and Economic Policy 7. Foreign Policy 9. Presidential Competence and the Public Interest C. Evaluating Presidential Candidates: What are the grounds for choice among candidates for president? How important should character be in appraising the qualifications of presidential candidates, compared to stands on issues and records of political experience and competence? How well does the system for presidential selection work? 1. Introduction: Five Dimensions of Leadership 2. Candidate Qualifications 3. Avoiding Troubled Candidates D. Conclusion: The Division of Labor


1. Two essay mid-term examinations (30% of grade each) 2. Take-Home Essay-combination Final and Term-Paper (40% of grade) 3. Regular attendance and participation in class discussions. Readings completed by dates assigned. ***Three absences = lower course grade*** 4. Regular newspaper reading--presidency stories in New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. J. Cohen and D. Nice (2003) The Presidency J. Cohen and D. Nice, Eds. (2003) The Presidency: Classic and Contemporary Readings F. Greenstein (2004) The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Clinton, 2d ed.


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