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

Summer 2009

GOV F330K • The American Presidency

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
84590 MTWThF
8:30 AM-10:00 AM
WAG 420

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.

Course Organization 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: Washington 3. The Presidency Democratized: Jefferson and Jackson 4. Presidential Morality and Power: Polk and Lincoln 5. The Presidency Modernized: TR, Wilson, FDR 6. Why Reputations Change: Truman, Eisenhower, JFK 7. The Impact of Vietnam and Watergate: Johnson and Nixon 8. Preliminary Appraisals: From Ford to Bush II 9. The Lessons of Presidential History 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 presidentÂ’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: The Classic Dilemma 6. The Budget and Economic Policy 7. Foreign Policy 8. Presidential Competence and the Public Interest B. Evaluating Presidential Candidates: What are the grounds for choice among presidential candidates? How important is character, relative to issue positions and track-record, in appraising the qualifications of candidates? How well does the presidential selection system work? 1. Introduction: Five Dimensions of Presidential Leadership 2. Candidate Qualifications 3. Character: Avoiding Troubled Candidates D. Course Conclusion: The Division of Labor

Grading Policy

1. Two essay mid-term examinations (30% of grade each) 2. Combination Take-home final/mini term-paper (40% of grade) 3. Regular attendance (Four absences=lower course grade)


J. Pfiffner (2008) The Modern Presidency, 5th ed. M. Nelson, ed. (2009) The Evolving Presidency, 2d ed. F. Greenstein (2004) The Presidential difference, 2d.ed. Regular newspaper reading—presidency stories in New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal.


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