United States Military Academy
Department of Social Sciences
Fall 2003




Dr. Meena Bose                LTC Al Willner                CPT Joseph Kopser          

216 Lincoln Hall                110 Lincoln Hall                121 Lincoln Hall

845-938-2932                     845-938-2800                     845-938-3044


          This course examines the role of the presidency in the American political system.  We begin with an analysis of the constitutional origins of the presidency and the evolution of presidential power from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.  In so doing, we focus particularly on the development of the “modern” presidency.  We next turn to presidential selection and governance, examining the election process (nomination, campaign, and general election), as well as presidential interaction with the public and media.  We conclude the first half of the course by examining how the presidency operates in conjunction with other national institutions, namely, the executive office, federal bureaucracy, Congress, and Supreme Court. 


            In the second half of the course, we analyze the institution of the presidency more closely, focusing on presidential policy making.  We examine how presidents make decisions about policy options, how the president’s personality shapes performance in office, and how presidential power influences civil-military relations.  We then evaluate the development of the modern presidency through case studies, beginning with the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR).  Our case studies focus on the work of presidential scholar Fred I. Greenstein and presidential adviser David Gergen, who served in four administrations.  We will examine the growth of the presidency as an institution in the past sixty years and compare how individual presidents from FDR to President George W. Bush have used their increased power.


            In studying these issues, we will consider such questions as the following: How has the massive increase in resources and responsibilities since FDR’s administration shaped the presidency as an institution?  To what degree is presidential power still dependent on the person in the Oval Office?  Of what consequence are differences in presidential leadership styles and advisory systems, and can we reach broad conclusions about those differences?


            As an advanced liberal arts course, this class will place a premium on informed participation and clear, analytical writing.  Grades will be based on class participation, a group exercise, a midterm and final, a bibliography and outline for the course paper, and a research paper on a modern president of your choice (3,000 words, exclusive of title page, footnotes, and bibliography).  The final exam project will be cumulative, though with a heavier emphasis on material since the midterm.




Goal 1: Graduates of SS373 will understand the historical development of the presidency and presidential power.


Objective 1: Cadets can explain the constitutional basis for the office of the presidency, especially Article II and relevant Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.


Objective 2: Cadets can trace the development of the modern presidency.


Objective 3: Cadets can discuss the practical exercise of presidential power.


Goal 2: Graduates of SS373 will understand the presidential selection process, presidential public relations, and presidential governance with other institutions.


Objective 1: Cadets can explain the presidential nomination and election process.


Objective 2: Cadets can explain the importance of public relations, particularly cultivation of public opinion and the media, for presidential leadership.


Objective 3: Cadets can explain the separation of powers/checks and balances between the presidency and other institutions, including the executive office, federal bureaucracy, Congress, and Supreme Court.


Goal 3: Graduates of SS373 will be able to analyze the challenges of modern presidential leadership with detailed knowledge of the experiences of individual modern presidents.


Objective 1: Cadets can discuss theories of presidential leadership and decision making, and their implications for policy making in domestic and foreign affairs.


Objective 2: Cadets can use case studies from the modern presidency to illustrate theories of presidential leadership.


Goal 4: Graduates of SS373 will improve their analytical reasoning and oral and written communication skills.


Objective 1: Cadets can prepare a theoretically grounded 3,000-word case study of modern presidential leadership.


Objective 2: Cadets can employ logical reasoning and oral communication skills in discussions and presentations on presidential leadership.




            This course is organized as a seminar, which means that daily participation is essential to understanding the readings and developing your knowledge of the American presidency.  We will analyze secondary and primary sources on the presidency in this course, and careful reading of the assignments will be necessary to participate in class discussions.  The course also contains a significant writing component, which will require preparation throughout the semester.  If you keep up with the syllabus, you will find this course both educational and enjoyable.


            Grades will be based on the following:


Participation (attendance, classroom discussion)                                        100 points

Group exercise                                                                                         100 points

WPR (exam + essay)                                                                               200 points

Bibliography and outline for research paper                                               100 points

Research Paper (3,000 words)                                                                 250 points

TEE Equivalent                                                                                        250 points    

TOTAL                                                                                                   1,000 points


1. Participation – A seminar requires involvement from all participants, and you are expected to attend class and speak regularly.  You must let me know beforehand if you will not be able to attend class.  Questions and discussion are welcome, and indeed are the means through which we all learn about the course material. 


2. Group Presentation – See below.


3. WPR – To be discussed in class.  Format likely will be short answers, identifications, and an essay.


4. Bibliography/outline – See below.


5. Research paper – See below.


6. TEE Equivalent – To be discussed in class. 


Please note the following class policies:


ASSIGNMENTS: All assignments/exams MUST be turned in/taken on time.  An assignment that is submitted after the due date without previous clearance by the instructor (which will be granted only in exceptional circumstances) will have the grade reduced by 10 percent each day it is late.  ALL assignments must be completed to pass the course. 


ATTENDANCE: Attendance is a requirement, and students may not arrive late or leave early.


GRADES: To successfully complete SS373, you must demonstrate achievement of the course objectives.  The Department of Social Sciences’s grading scale follows:


Level of Achievement

Letter Grade


Subjective Interpretation












Mastery of concepts.  Can apply concepts to new situations.









Solid understanding of concepts.  Strong foundation for future work.







Acceptable understanding.  Questionable foundation for future work.

Marginal Proficiency





Doubtful understanding.  Weak foundation for future work.




Definitely failed to demonstrate understanding.





Bose, Meena, and Mark Landis, eds.  The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings.  Special issue of White House Studies 3, no. 1 (Spring 2003).


Edwards, George C., III, and Stephen J. Wayne.  Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy Making.  6th ed. Wadsworth Press, 2002.


Gergen, David.  Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.


Greenstein, Fred I.  The Presidential Difference: Strength and Weakness in the Oval Office from FDR to Bill Clinton.  New York: The Free Press, 2000 (reprint ed., Princeton University Press, 2001).     


Milkis, Sidney M., and Michael Nelson.  The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2002.  4th ed.  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2003.


Nelson, Michael, ed.  The Evolving Presidency: Addresses, Cases, Letters, Reports, Resolutions, Transcripts, and Other Landmark Documents, 1787-1998.  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1999.


Neustadt, Richard E.  Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from FDR to Reagan.  New York: Free Press, 1990.  




            Selected articles that are available through USMA’s electronic databases also will be assigned.  To locate these articles, do the following:


1.      Go to USMA Library webpage.  http://www-internal.library.usma.edu/


2.      Click on Indexes and Databases. 


3.      Click on Proquest (or other database, as identified by instructor).


4.      Find article (full bibliographical information will be provided), print, and read.


            Daily reading of the New York Times also is required, with particular emphasis, of course, on articles about the presidency.




I. Introduction to the Presidency


1. 18 Aug. – Rating the Presidents: How Do We Define Presidential Leadership?

Bose and Landis, eds., The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings: Bose, Pfiffner, Pious articles, and Commentary by Burns, Schlesinger, and Greenstein


2. 20 Aug. – Studying the American Presidency

            Edwards and Wayne, ch. 1, Appendix A


II. Evolution of the Presidency


3. 22 Aug. – Constitutional History of Presidency I

Milkis and Nelson, ch. 2

Nelson, Preface, Reading 1


4. 26 Aug. – Constitutional History of Presidency II     

Nelson, Readings 2-7


5. 28 Aug. – Drop [Compensatory time for research paper]


6. 2 Sept. –  Rise of the Plebiscitary Presidency [Group presentations]

            Milkis and Nelson, chs. 4, 5

            Nelson, Readings 11, 12


7. 4 Sept. – Presidency and Prerogative Power [Group presentations]

            Milkis and Nelson, chs. 6, 7

            Nelson, Reading 13


8. 8 Sept. – Expansion of Presidential Power [Group presentations]

Milkis and Nelson, chs. 8, 9

Nelson, Readings 17, 18


9. 10 Sept. – Evolution of Modern Presidency [Group presentations]

            Milkis and Nelson, chs. 10, 11

            Nelson, Readings 20, 22


III. Presidency and Political Power


10. 12 Sept. – Neustadt and Presidential Power

Neustadt, Prefaces, chs. 1-3

Shribman, David.  “Harvard Professor’s Course Has Shaped Views of a Generation on the Power of the Presidency.”  Wall Street Journal, 4 December 1986, 68.  (To be distributed.)


11. 16 Sept. -- Neustadt and Presidential Power II

            Neustadt, chs. 4-5


12. 18 Sept. – Critiques of Neustadt’s Presidential Power

            Readings TBD


IV. Presidential Selection


13. 22 Sept. – Presidential Nominations

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 2


14. 24 Sept. – Presidential Elections

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 3


15. 26 Sept. – President and Public

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 4


16. 30 Sept. – President and Media

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 5


V. Presidency and Other Institutions


17. 2 Oct. – President’s Office

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 6


18. 6 Oct. – President and Executive Branch

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 9


19. 8 Oct. – President and Congress

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 10


20. 10 Oct. – Drop [Compensatory time for research paper]


21. 15 Oct. – President and Judiciary

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 11


22. 17 Oct. – WPR


VI. Presidential Policy Making


23. 21 Oct. – Presidential Decision Making

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 7


24. 23 Oct. – Psychological Presidency

            Edwards/Wayne, ch. 8


25. 27 Oct. – Presidency and Foreign/Defense Policy Making

Edwards/Wayne, ch. 14


26. 29 Oct. – President as Commander in Chief

            Readings to be distributed.


29 Oct. – Guest lecture: Professor Larry Berman, University of California-Davis


27. 31 Oct. – Drop [Compensatory time for research paper]




VII. Case studies in the Modern Presidency


28. 4 Nov. – Modern Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Greenstein, chs. 1, 2

Nelson, Readings 23, 24




 29. 6 Nov. – Modern Presidency of Harry S. Truman

     Greenstein, ch. 3

     Nelson, Reading 25


30. 10 Nov. – Modern Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower

     Greenstein, ch. 4

     Nelson, Reading 26


31. 13 Nov. – Modern Presidency of John F. Kennedy

     Greenstein, ch. 5

     Nelson, Readings 27, 28


32. 17 Nov. – Modern Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson

Greenstein, ch. 6

     Nelson, Readings 30, 31


33. 19 Nov. – Modern Presidency of Richard M. Nixon

     Greenstein, ch. 7

     Nelson, Readings 35-38


34. 21 Nov. – Drop [Compensatory time for research paper]




35. 25 Nov. – From Nixon to Ford

     Gergen, chs. 3,4


36. 1 Dec. – Modern Presidency of Ronald Reagan

     Gergen, ch. 7

     Greenstein, ch. 10

     Nelson, Reading 40


37. 3 Dec. – Modern Presidency of Bill Clinton

     Gergen, ch. 10

     Greenstein, ch. 12

     Nelson, Readings 43, 45


38. 5 Dec. – Modern Presidency of George W. Bush

     Greenstein, Afterword

     Instructor-assigned readings


VIII. The Future of the Presidency


8 Dec. – Guest lecture: The Honorable Kim Campbell, 1245-1345, Room TBD


39. 9 Dec. – When Will We Have a Woman President?

     Readings TBD


40. 11 Dec. – Lessons From the Modern Presidency

     Gergen, Conclusion             

     Greenstein, ch. 13






            To ensure that cadets develop both their writing and speaking skills, and can work effectively in groups, this course will have a group exercise early in the semester.  Each class will be divided into four groups of three to five cadets, who will be responsible as a group for leading one of the lessons on the development of the presidency (LSNs 6-9).  Each group will have a cadet in charge (CIC), who will divide responsibility for the lesson among individual cadets.  The group will be responsible for teaching the class about advances and challenges in the presidency during the period under study.  The group will teach a forty-minute lesson, which will be followed by discussion and evaluation of the class.

            Cadets will be graded for this assignment both collectively and individually.  Collectively, the group will be evaluated for organization, preparation, clarity, detail, and cohesiveness.  For example, the individual cadet presentations should fit together into a coherent whole, and the CIC will take the lead in ensuring that they do so.  Groups may use PowerPoint in their lesson, but they should be careful not to rely on it in substitution of teaching.  Cadets are encouraged to prepare handouts, use short (2-3 minutes) video clips, or employ other teaching aids if they advance the lesson.

            Individually, each cadet will be graded on two written assignments.  First, each person will submit a 500-word paper summarizing their key findings about the presidency/ies under study and evaluating the consequences of policy making in that period for the development of the presidency as an institution.  This paper should be written in essay form, with a title page (and creative title), introductory paragraph, supporting points, and a conclusion.  Cadets may rely primarily on course texts for this assignment, but they are also expected to use 2-3 outside sources (books and articles; no more than one website, and any website used should be a reputable scholarly source).  The paper is due on the day of the presentation. 

            Second, cadets should provide a 1-2 page lesson plan for their portion of the class, which summarizes (in complete sentences) the class objectives and methods, and also assesses how well the actual class met the stated objectives.  The lesson plan is due the next class after a group teaches the lesson.






            As noted earlier, each student must write a 3,000-word research paper for this course.  (Word count is exclusive of title page, footnotes, and bibliography.)  The research paper is an opportunity for you to study a modern president of your choice more closely than we can in class.  In the early weeks of the semester, you will select a president and meet with your instructor to discuss your topic. (We will arrange the meetings in class.)  Your paper should be a focused analysis of an episode in that president’s administration that reveals useful lessons for future presidents.  You should not attempt to produce an exhaustive study of your president – such an analysis would take well over the word requirement, and is far too large a subject for the scope of this paper.  Instead, you should pick an event in the presidency you are studying and examine it with an analytical question in mind.  For example, “What happened to President Clinton’s health care reform initiative?” is a descriptive question.  But “Why was President Clinton unable to pass a major health care reform bill in his first term?” is an analytical question, and one that is of interest to political scientists.



            In selecting your paper topic, you should consider which president from FDR to Clinton holds particular interest for you and why.  Greenstein’s The Presidential Difference will be especially helpful here.  You also should talk with your instructor about possible topics or sources to help you pick a topic.  The myriad research sources on the modern presidency range from presidential autobiographies to other officials’ memoirs, scholarly analyses, compilations of each president’s public addresses, and much more.  You will not be expected to master this material for your paper, but you should have a clear understanding of how much material exists on your topic, as that will help you to see what others have studied and which areas merit further attention.


            While the following list hardly covers all of the possible topics on each president, it provides some possibilities:


FDR: First 100 days in office, “court-packing” effort in 1937, creation of the Executive Office of the President, evaluation of “New Deal” legislation, leadership during World War II


Truman: Decision to drop atomic bomb, Truman Doctrine, “Fair Deal” for domestic legislation, narrow reelection in 1948, McCarthyism


Eisenhower: End of Korean War in 1953, McCarthyism, desegregation in Little Rock, Ark., 1957, Civil Rights Act of 1957, “hidden-hand” leadership


Kennedy: Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban missile crisis, civil rights efforts, Vietnam, Peace Corps


Johnson: Vietnam, decision not to run for reelection in 1968, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, other “Great Society” domestic programs


Nixon: “Détente” with Soviet Union, appointments to Supreme Court, welfare legislation, Watergate, resignation


Ford: Application of 25th Amendment, selection of Nelson Rockefeller as vice president, pardoning of Nixon, 1976 campaign


Carter: Panama Canal treaty, Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel, Iran hostage crisis, energy crisis, “national malaise” speech of 1979


Reagan: 1981 tax cuts, reelection “mandate” in 1984, summit meetings with Gorbachev, appointments to Supreme Court, Iran-contra crisis

Bush (41): Differences between 1988 and 1992 campaigns, “No new taxes” pledge, Gulf War, end of Cold War, choice of Dan Quayle as vice president


Clinton: Health care reform, problems with Cabinet appointments in 1993, 1994 midterm elections, shutdown of federal government in 1995, responsibilities of Hillary Rodham Clinton, impeachment and its consequences, management of peace process in Northern Ireland, Middle East diplomacy, role in 2000 election


Bush (43): Contested presidential election of 2000, “corporate” management style, 2001 tax cut, foreign policy leadership, creation of Department of Homeland Security



            In conducting research for this paper, you will not have trouble finding sources about your president – but you will need to spend some time selecting sources that are relevant to your topic.  Picking the first four books you find in the library catalog will not provide the most useful information for your paper, as you will see once you begin to write.  In examining possible sources, you need to consider whether the source will be helpful for your topic, the information it provides, the reliability of the source (Ex. Scholarly research based on government documents vs. disgruntled official’s memoirs), and the questions it may raise for further analysis.


            Your final paper should contain a bibliography of at least 12 sources, and each source must be cited in the paper.  The bibliography is not included in the word count for the paper.  Your research needs to draw on a range of sources, which must include at least two sources from each of the following:


·        Books

·        Articles from scholarly journals (Political Science Quarterly, American Political Science Review, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Journal of American History, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, etc.)

·        Sources from government documents (Public Papers of the Presidents, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, congressional hearings, etc.)

·        Articles from newspapers and weekly magazines (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Economist, etc.)


            The World Wide Web (WWW) contains a vast array of resources, many of which may be useful in your research.  Keep in mind, though, that you need to evaluate the material you find on the WWW just as carefully as you would evaluate printed material.  For example, who is publishing the website that you are using – an interest group, think tank, political party, newspaper, business, individual?  The biases of the author affect the credibility of the material and need to be considered carefully in deciding whether the source is adequate for your research. Also be sure to collect full bibliographical information for any source on the WWW that you use. (See below.)





            For this assignment, you will turn in a detailed outline of your research paper and an annotated bibliography.  We will evaluate how your research is progressing and make recommendations for the final version.  This assignment is worth 10 percent of your final grade, so prepare it carefully.


·        Outline -- Begin with the introductory section of your paper, which should include your research question, its significance, the analytical basis for the project, and your thesis statement.  This section should be at least two paragraphs, and may be three or four.  Then present an outline of each section of your paper, focusing on topics, supporting points, and opposing views.  Include an outline of your conclusion, which should discuss larger implications of your case study for presidential leadership.  Be sure to use complete sentences to discuss each point in the outline.


·        Annotated Bibliography -- Your bibliography should contain at least ten sources by this time, including two of each type discussed above.  Provide a short description (1-2 sentences) following each citation of how that source will be useful in writing your paper.  Follow documentation guidelines in USMA’s Documentation of Written Work and the Little, Brown HandbookWWW sources should include as much bibliographical information as possible – at least author, title, and publisher of website – along with the WWW address, and the date you accessed the source in parentheses.


·        General format: Typed, double-spaced (including bibliography and annotations), page numbers.  List sources in bibliography according to type (books, periodicals, etc.).




·        Paper must be typed and double-spaced.  Use a 12-point font, one-inch margins, and page numbers.  Submit your paper in a brown folder, and include your outline and initial annotated bibliography at the end.


·        Paper should contain a title page with a thoughtful and creative title, as well as an introduction, body, and conclusion, with subheads to separate the sections. (The topics from your outline will help you to develop subheads.)


·        Be sure to provide complete citations (footnotes) for any sources you use.  Also be sure, of course, to include your final bibliography (does not need to be annotated).


·        Remember that the best writing is clear and direct.  Do not waste space with long-winded phrases or convoluted sentences.  Say precisely what you mean.  Avoid slang and the passive voice.


·        Double-check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.



            Cadets will document in accordance with the USMA Documentation of Written Work (DWW), the Little, Brown Handbook, and guidance above.  Needless to say, whatever you submit should be in your own words.  Direct copying of a text, or even copying the basic structure of the text while changing a few words here and there, constitutes plagiarism.  Failure to attribute information taken from sources also is plagiarism.  Be sure to cite all sources that you use, not just for direct quotations but also for ideas, facts, etc.  Per the DWW, the documentation must leave no doubt about the source of ideas, words, data, or products of another person or about the specific nature and source of the collaboration or assistance received. See your instructor if you have questions.