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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2008

T C 357 • The Responsible Presidency-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43885 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

This is a Plan II Junior Seminar. Its purpose is to sharpen your thinking, research, speaking and writing skills. The principal method is to put everyone to work on a research project that requires use of all these skills. In this course we will examine the following questions and themes. What systems are in place to hold presidents responsible for their actions/policy decisions and how do these parts interact? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this system of responsibility? What role specifically does the public play in presidential responsibility? How can we tell if a president is being effectively held to account? What incentives does a system of checks and balances give the president? What happens to presidential responsibility under conditions of polarization? Under what conditions do the agents of responsibility hinder, leave untouched, or enhance the prospects for presidential effectiveness? From the perspective of responsibility, we will look at policy decisions of various presidents related to issues such as the economy, foreign relations, education, health care and examine case studies from the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the Korean war and the 1929 stock market crash.

Grading Policy

Regular participation in class discussions 25%
Mid-Term and Take-Home Final 25%
Formal presentation on research project 25%
20 page research project final term paper 25%


Rudalevige, Andrew, The New Imperial Presidency
Howell, William G. and Jon C. Pevehouse. While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential Powers
Perret, Geoffrey, Commander in Chief

About the Professor

Professor Buchanan's specialties are presidential and American politics, American institutions, public policy and political behavior. His books include The Presidential Experience (Prentice-Hall, 1978), The Citizen's Presidency (Congressional Quarterly, 1987) Electing A President (Texas, 1991), Renewing Presidential Politics (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), The State of the Presidency (ed. LBJ School/Library 2002), Presidential Campaign Quality (Prentice- Hall, 2004) and The Policy Partnership (Routledge, 2004). His 2006 APSA conference paper is entitled "How Americans Judge Presidents: A Typology of Cue-Based Appraisal."


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