The man from Independence.  Ike.  JFK.  LBJ.  Tricky Dick.  Jerry.  Jimmy.  The Great Communicator.  Bush 41.  Slick Willie.  Dubya.  No Drama Obama.  As these names suggest, the American public has alternately praised and condemned its chief executives for being imperial and populist, ambitious and inspirational, statesmen and partisans.  What remains constant is the deeply engrained expectation that U.S. presidents will be heroic patriarchs, self-made men who dedicate themselves to the national interest.  Gender, race, sexuality, and religion are constitutive of the presidency.  Whether they are on the campaign trail or in the Oval Office, candidates and officeholders alike struggle to prove that they are "presidential."  Yet presidents do not govern alone.  The president is also at the heart of a complex executive bureaucracy.  To study the president is to study executive leadership in a rich and complicated organizational, political, partisan context.  The questions we will ask and debate include: Who is popularly perceived as having "presidential timber"?  Who do presidents nominate and Senators confirm for elite posts in the executive branch?  What does this selectivity reveal about the workings of power in the U.S. society and political system?  How do presidents set their political agendas?  How do presidents make decisions?  What are the consequences of these agendas and decisions for voters and constituents?  When do presidents lobby Congress?  When do presidents pursue litigation in the Supreme Court?  What are the consequences of their strategies for the constitutional system of checks-and-balances?



Enrollment Limit

Enrollment limited to 28 students.