The American Presidency (PO 391)

Dr. George Serra
Office: 180 Summer Street, Room 103 (531- 2417)

Course Description
The purpose of the course is to explore the institution of the American presidency. We will examine the constitutional prerogatives and organizational structure of the presidency, how presidential power developed historically, presidential selection and character, and presidential decision-making. We will also explore the relationship between the presidency and other institutions, both political and nonpolitical: the Congress, the bureaucracy, the courts, and the media.

Course Books
Robert DiClerico. Analyzing the Presidency
George Edwards and Stephen Wayne. Presidential Leadership.

James Pfiffner and Roger Davidson.
Understanding the Presidency.
Stephen Wayne. The Road to the White House, 2000.

Course Requirements
Students are responsible for all course readings and lectures. Exam questions will be drawn from both of these sources. Final grades will be based on the student's performance on two exams, three five page papers, and class participation.

Exams: There will be a midterm and final exam. The midterm exam is worth 30 percent of your final grade; the final exam is worth 30 percent of your final grade. For all exams you will be required to provide a broad understanding of the course material.

Make-up exams will be given only if you have a serious emergency and notify me prior to the examination. Medical excuses must be accompanied by a note from a physician or from the campus health services. Every effort will be made to produce a make-up exam which is comparable in format and level of difficulty to the original exam, but it is impossible to guarantee that this can be done to everyone's satisfaction.

Papers: The course consists of seven substantive units. Choose three of these units and generate a paper topic for each. Unit papers must be clearly and concisely written; papers are due at the end of every unit. The papers must be typewritten: I will not accept handwritten papers. Please do not use report covers. Your papers will incorporate the assigned readings and may require outside research. Each paper is worth 10 percent of your final grade. If you miss a deadline, you must choose another unit and paper topic.

Class Participation: Class participation is worth 10 percent of your final grade. You must read the assigned course material for each class and be prepared for class discussion.

Reading Assignments

I. The Institution of the Presidency

Constitutional Prerogatives
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 1 and Appendix B

Organizational Structure
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The President's Cabinet" 
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Evolution of the White House Staff"
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 6

Unit Paper Due

II. Presidential Selection And Presidential Character

Presidential Selection
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Rules Do Matter: Post-Reform Presidential Nominating Politics"
DiClerico, "How Not to Select Presidential Candidates: A View From Europe"
DiClerico, "The Case for a National Pre-primary Convention Plan"
Wayne, Chapters 6,8,9
Wayne, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Presidential Character
DiClerico, "James David Barber and the Psychological Presidency"
DiClerico, "The Presidential Character"
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 8

Unit Paper Due

III. The Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and Decision-Making

Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Changing Presidential Office"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Can the President Manage the Government" 
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Bureaucracy in the American Constitutional Order" 
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 7 

Unit Paper Due


IV. The President and the Media

DiClerico, "The Imperial Media"
DeClerico, "Images of the White House in the Media"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Out of Order: Games and Governing"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Press and the Presidency" 
Edwards and Wayne, Chapters 4 and 5

Unit Paper Due

V. The President and Congress

Pfiffner and Davidson, "Invitation to Struggle: The President, Congress, and National Security" 
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Presidential-Congressional Relations"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Representation, Accountability, and Efficiency in Divided Party Control of Government"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Presidency in a Separated System"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "Is The Separation of Powers Obsolete? The Congressional-Presidential Balance of Power" 
DiClerico, "Needed: A Political Theory for the New Era of Coalition Government in the United States"
DeClerico, "Does the Separation of Powers Still Work"
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 10

Unit Paper Due

VI. The President and the Judiciary

Pfiffner and Davidson, "Judicial Control of the Presidency: Stability and Change"
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 11

Unit Paper Due

VII. Presidential Policy-Making

The Budget
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 13

Domestic Policy
DiClerico, "Some Rules of the Game ..."
DiClerico, "Economic Advice to the President From Eisenhower to Reagan"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Hundred Days" 
Pfiffner and Davidson, The Power To Persuade"
Pfiffner and Davidson, "The Presidency and Domestic Policy: The Civil Rights Act of 1964" 
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 12

Foreign Policy
DiClerico, "Congressional Overreaching in Foreign Policy"
Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 14

Unit Paper Due

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