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Humanities Libertexts

13.S: The Presidency

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  • Recommended Reading

    • Cameron, Charles M. Veto Bargaining: Presidents and the Politics of Negative Power. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. How presidents can and do use the power of the veto.
    • Hinckley, Barbara. Less than Meets the Eye: Foreign Policy Making and the Myth of the Assertive Congress. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. How Congress rarely blocks presidents’ foreign policy initiatives.
    • Howell, William G. Power without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. What presidents can get done with unilateral powers.
    • Kernell, Samuel. Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership, 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2007. What presidents can—and cannot—get done with speechmaking.
    • Kessel, John H. Presidents, the Presidency, and the Political Environment. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001. An overview of the presidency beyond the president.
    • Kumar, Martha Joynt. Managing the President’s Message: The White House Communications Operation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. The definitive study of White House–media relations.
    • Lewis, David E. The Politics of Presidential Appointments: Political Control and Bureaucratic Performance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008. An analysis of the evolution and increasing politicization of the appointment process.
    • Light, Paul C. The President’s Agenda: Domestic Policy Choice from Kennedy to Clinton, 3rd. ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. A compelling study of what goes into presidents’ decisions on recommendations to Congress.
    • Neustadt, Richard E. Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents. New York: Macmillan, 1990. The classic 1960 treatise on presidential power and presidential weakness, updated with postscripts and emendations on presidents from JFK to Reagan.
    • Peterson, Mark A. Legislating Together: The White House and Capitol Hill from Eisenhower to Reagan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990. A painstaking account of conflict and cooperation between president and Congress.
    • Ragsdale, Lyn. Vital Statistics on the Presidency, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2008. A compendium of everything that can be numerically measured about the presidency, further illuminated by incisive interpretive essays.
    • Smith, Jeff. The Presidents We Imagine. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. A detailed survey of two centuries of imaginings of US presidents.

    Recommended Viewing

    • Air Force One (1997). Air Force One is hijacked by Russian terrorists, and the president (Harrison Ford) must physically recapture the plane himself.
    • All the Presidents’ Movies (2009). A documentary about which presidents watched what movies when—based on the logs of the White House theater.
    • The American President (1995). A liberal what-might-have-been fantasy of the Clinton presidency: a widowed president (Michael Douglas), amid a tough reelection fight, falls in love with an environmental lobbyist. Written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of the series The West Wing.
    • Dave (1993). A nice-guy body double for a president (Kevin Kline) shows that all he needs to live up to his responsibilities are common sense and decency.
    • Gabriel Over the White House (1933). The classic White House film: a party-hack president (Walter Huston), comatose after a car accident, awakes under the guidance of the angel to end crime, unemployment, and accomplish disarmament.
    • Independence Day (1996). The president (Bill Pullman) reclaims his military past to rid the world of an alien invasion.
    • Kisses for My President (1964). Curious comedy about the first woman president and her husband’s gender panic as the first man to be “first lady.”
    • Nixon (1995). Director Oliver Stone’s hallucinatory attempt to make sense of the Nixon presidency, with uncanny performances by Anthony Hopkins as Nixon and Joan Allen as his wife, Pat.
    • The Press Secretary (2001). An insightful fly-on-the-wall documentary about several days in the professional life of Joe Lockhart who was then President Clinton’s press secretary.
    • Reagan (2011). Eugene Jarecki’s documentary traces the fascinating life and career, while struggling to understand the personality, of the fortieth president.
    • W (2008). Oliver Stone’s restrained biopic of President George W. Bush.
    • Wag the Dog (1998). A political consultant (Robert De Niro) and Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) try to distract attention from a presidential sex scandal by staging a fake war.
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