POL-345: The Presidency

      The President is the central figure in American politics. This course examines the creation of the office at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as well as its evolution over 200-plus years of American history. In terms of contemporary politics, we explore the many aspects of the presidential job description.

      During the course, students do original research using historical case studies, resulting in a major paper applying concepts from the course to a particular presidency. The paper will involve textbooks, other books on the presidency, and primary and secondary materials on the specific president.

      The Presidency is offered every three to four semesters. It fulfills the "advanced American politics" requirement for the Political Science major. It also applies towards an American Studies major, and towards secondary school endorsement in American government. It is a Writing Emphasis course.

Presidency Links

The White House page: some propaganda, some trivia, some useful stuff

Miller Center symposium on presidential domestic policy making featuring advisors from Nixon to George W. Bush... note the Miller Center also has much fascinating information available in their presidential oral history project

The George Washington Papers at University of Virginia

The Hoover Presidential Library is less than 40 miles away in West Branch, IA
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hyde Park, NY
Harry S. Truman, Independence, MO
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Abilene, KS
John F. Kennedy, Boston, MA
Lyndon B. Johnson, Austin, TX
Richard M. Nixon, College Park, MD
Gerald R. Ford, Ann Arbor, MI
Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, GA
Ronald Reagan, Simi Valley, CA
George Bush, College Station, TX
William J. Clinton, Little Rock, AR
George W. Bush, Lewisville, TX

americanpresidency.org: John T. Woolley of UC-Santa Barbara has an excellent collection of presidential speeches (some with video and audio) as well as data and graphs

War Department Papers, 1784-1800 (George Mason University)

The  Federalist Papers: Numbers 67-77 address the creation of the Presidency

citation guide from the Modern Language Association

                              Texts (Spring 2011)

    Colin Campbell, Bert A. Rockman and Andrew Rudalevige (eds), The George W. Bush Legacy (Congressional Quarterly, 2007)
    Thomas E. Cronin, On the Presidency: Teacher, Soldier, Shaman, Pol (Paradigm, 2009)
    Ralph Ketcham (ed), The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates (Mentor, 1986)

                          Course Outline


The ideal President: Cronin 1
Design and structure:  Ketcham, pp. 42-43, 114-120, 130-134, 165-171
Defining powers:  Ketcham, pp. 120-127, 159-160
Opposition:  Ketcham, pp. 194-198, 317-321; Cato 4
Defense:  Federalist 68-70, 72
George W. Bush and the constitutional presidency: Aberbach (C/R/R 6)
The Presidency today: Cronin 2


George W. Bush and the public: Jacobson (C/R/R 4)
Dealing with public polarization: Campbell (C/R/R 2)
A different view of polarization: Fiorina (C/R/R 5)
Obama and the public
George W. Bush and interest groups: Peterson (C/R/R 13)
Obama, interest groups and news media
George W. Bush and Congress: Sinclair (C/R/R 8)
George W. Bush and the courts (C/R/R 9)
Obama, Congress and the courts


Advising relationships: Cronin 3
George W. Bush and domestic policy advising: Rudalevige (C/R/R 7)
George W. Bush and foreign policy advising: Campbell (C/R/R 8)
The impact of advising: Quirk and Nesmith (handout)
George W. Bush and domestic policy: Foreman (C/R/R 12)
Obama and policy making
George W. Bush and foreign policy: Tanter and Kersting (C/R/R 10)
The national security presidency today: Cronin 5
Obama and security policy
Legacies--Kennedy: Cronin 4
Legacies--Bush: Rockman (C/R/R 14)

Last update:  1/6/11

Next Course:  Contemporary Political Theory

Last Course: The American Congress

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