Political Science 4330

The U.S. Presidency

Spring Semester 2003

14 University Hall

Monday 7:00pm – 9:50pm


Instructor:             Dr. Rebecca E. Deen

Office:                    406 University Hall

Phone:                    272-3544 or 272- 2991

email:                      deen@uta.edu

Office Hours:        Mondays 11:00am – noon & by appointment before class

                                Wednesdays & Fridays 11:00 – 11:30

If these times are inconvenient, I will be happy to make individualized appointments.




This course will focus on a uniquely American institution: the presidency.  It is designed for upper level Political Science majors, but is open to anyone who would like to learn about this institution, its processes, and its evolution over time. First we will examine presidential selection.  The complex system by which we choose our Chief Executive is unlike any other.  We will trace the process from the pre-primary stages, through the general election.


From selection we will turn to governing.  First we will examine the Executive Branch itself.  How do presidents organize themselves and their staffs?  How does that affect their governing capacity?  How can we characterize the interaction between the White House and the Executive Branch bureaucracies?  These are some of the questions we will address in this portion of the course.


Next, we will turn to the relationship between the Executive and the other two branches of government.  Here we will also conclude our course by exploring policy making.  What constraints does a President face, institutionally, politically, personally?  How does a President make policy?  Does this process change across different policy areas and across different environmental conditions?  PLEASE NOTE: This course will only discuss domestic and economic policy making and will do so in brief.  Students who desire a more intensive examination of presidential domestic policy making should refer to the course, “Presidential Leadership in Domestic Policy Making.”  Those who wish to study presidential foreign policy making should refer to the course, “Presidential Foreign Policymaking.”  Additionally, there are many courses offered on both the domestic and foreign policy making processes.


By the end of the semester, students should:


·         Have a good, comprehensive understanding of the President, the presidency and his administration.

·         Be able to apply the knowledge they have gained to contemporary presidential elections.

·         Have a sense of how political science examines the Presidency, including what kinds of data and techniques are useful to answer substantively and analytically interesting questions.


Student Responsibilities

Attendance There are no formal penalties for missing class.  However, participation is a part of your grade; to participate, you must attend class.  Participation means demonstrating a willingness and eagerness to learn the material to the best of one’s ability.  This demonstration can take many forms: engaging in discussion about the material; asking questions; and meeting with the instructor during office hours.  In addition, because this class meets only once weekly, there are limited opportunities to earn participation points.


Reading responsibilities  Students who come to class having read and thought about the materials will find excelling in the exams and the paper much easier than will students who are not prepared.  Not surprisingly, these are the components of the final grade.  Also, class participation is difficult when one has not read. 


While we will discuss as much of the reading assignments as possible, students should know that some assignments will not receive as much attention as others.  Thus, students will need to think about and perhaps re-read some materials in preparation for class assignments.


Reading the material and making every effort to understand it is so important that when this does not happen (i.e. when it is obvious that people have not read), difficult questions from that material will appear on the exam!  Reading, not understanding and asking questions in class is OK.


There are two required texts for this course:


Edwards, George C. and Stephen J. Wayne. 2003. Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy

                Making. 6th ed.. Thomson Wadsworth.


Nelson, Michael. 2003. The Presidency and the Political System. 7th ed. Congressional Quarterly



A few additional readings may be assigned and will be announced in class.


Throughout the quarter, we will be talking extensively about the current administration as well as the 2004 presidential election.  Students will be expected to keep abreast of these developments by reading a national newspaper (e.g. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.) a couple of times each week.  There are also many on-line options for staying informed.  These are good for general news, as well as research sources.  A few personal favorites:


New York Times:                        http://www.nytimes.com
Washington Post:                     http://www.washingtonpost.com

Presidential Resources:            http://sunsite.unc.edu/lia/president
The White House:                     http://www.whitehouse.gov

CNN:                                            http://www.cnn.com


The White House page is good for links to other government sites.  Also, Dr. Russell Renka of Southeast Missouri State University has compiled an excellent and exhaustive list of links to information and data on the US presidency http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/renka/PresidencyLinks.htm


Class Policies

Student Success

The University asks that you be told that, “The University of Texas at Arlington supports a variety of student success programs to help you connect with the University and achieve academic success.  They include learning assistance, developmental education, advising and mentoring, admission and transition, and federally funded programs.  Students requiring assistance academically, personally, or socially should contact the Office of Student Success Programs at 817-272-6107 for more information and appropriate referrals.”


Makeup Work

No makeup will be scheduled for the exam or the final except for medical reasons or extreme circumstances.  The student and instructor must discuss the situation in advance of the exam to schedule such a make-up.  Written documentation of the extreme circumstance may be required.


Incompletes and Withdrawals

No incompletes will be given unless you provide a signed doctor’s statement indicating you are too ill to complete the course.  Students have the responsibility to initiate dropping the course.  The 1st drop date is February 21st and the final drop date is April 11th.


Academic Dishonesty

Copying answers from a class mate, using crib notes during an exam, plagiarizing, or representing another's work as your own is considered cheating. Anyone caught cheating or aiding someone in cheating will be dealt with according to University policy


Students with Disabilities

As a faculty member, I am required by law to provide “reasonable accommodation” to students with disabilities.  Students have the responsibility to inform me at the beginning of the semester and to provide authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

If you have any questions regarding any of these policies, please contact me.


Assignments and Grading

This course allows you flexibility to choose how your grade is calculated.  Essentially, you will earn points by completing a variety of assignments.  Following is a list of the assignment options, followed by the maximum number of points you can earn for each assignment.  Please note: earning points on assignments will be a function of the quality of your work.  For example, just because an assignment COULD earn you 10 points does not mean that you WILL earn 10 points.  Detailed assignment descriptions will be distributed in class.


Non-negotiable points:

Midterm                                                                                                 25 points

Final                                                                                                       25 points

Participation                                                                                          10 points


Total                                                                                                       60 points


Options for the 40 self-selected points:


Study of a former president

-          Research paper (12 to 15 pages) April 21st               20 points

-          Oral report 1 (3-4 minutes)                                          5 points

-          Oral report 2 (3-4 minutes)                                          5 points


Current Event/Reading Journal

-          Journal -  April 21st                                                       20 points

-          oral report 1 (3-4 minutes)                                           5 points

-          oral report 2 (3-4 minutes)                                           5 points


Media Analysis

-          Follow events from WH press briefing to

print in newspapers (5-8 pages) April 21st                10 points


Campaign Advisor

-          Strategy memo (5-8 pages) March 10th                     10 points


Electoral College

-          Assessment &

policy recommendation

(5-8 pages) March 10th                                         10 points


President in Action – You may do this option twice.

-          oral report (3-4 minutes)                                              5 points

-          brief essay (2-4 pages)                                                5 points


Leading Class discussion – You may do this option twice

-          prepared questions for class discussion                 5 points

-          brief essay                                                                     5 points





Points                                    Grade

59 points or fewer                F

60 to 69 points                      D

70 to 79 points                      C

80 to 89 points                      B

90 points or more                 A



You may turn in as few or as many of these assignment options as you like.  For example, if you wish to attempt only 70 points, one possibility is to attempt the leading class discussion.  If you wish to attempt 80 points, one combination would be to complete a President in action assignment and the Media Analysis.  Alternatively, ambitious students who want to increase the likelihood of a good grade for the course may want to attempt more than 100 points.


You can mix and match these options to suit your needs – what grade you are trying to earn and what kind of assignment you would like to complete to earn points towards that goal.  Please remember – merely completing the assignments does not earn you points.  They will be graded on quality and the number of points scored will reflect the quality of the work.


Here are deadlines and important dates:

·         Everyone who is going to do the Study of a former president or the Current Event/Reading Journal must give the 1st report by March 3rd and the 2nd by April 21st.  The paper/journals are due April 21st.

·         If you choose the Leading Class discussion option, you must sign up for a date by February 3rd.

·         If you choose the Campaign Advisor option and/or the Electoral College option,  your essay is due March 10th.

·         If you choose the Media Analysis option, your essay is due April 21st.


This amount of flexibility might seem confusing or even perhaps might cause anxiety.  However, I believe that this format offers the student the most control over her or his workload and ultimately his or her grade.  If you have any questions about these options or policies, please contact me.


Course Schedule

Every attempt will be made to keep to this plan.  Adjustments may need to be made, however, and will be announced in class.  Chapter numbers are in parentheses following the authors.


January 13

Introduction & History; Studying the Presidency

READ: E&W (pp. xvi – 27) and Nelson (1, 5)


January 20

                MLK Day, no class


January 27


The political landscape

                                                History of parties

                                                Who votes and for whom

                                                Campaign Finance

READ: E&W (2) and Nelson (14)


February 3


Nomination – part 1

                                Delegate Selection History

Primaries vs. Caucuses


READ: E&W (2)


February 10


Nomination – part 2

Primaries vs. Caucuses, continued


READ: E&W (2) and Nelson (8)


February 17


General Election – part 1



READ: E&W (3)


February 24


General Election – part 2

                Electoral College

READ: E&W (3) and Nelson (9)


March 3


3rd parties



March 10

                MIDTERM EXAM


March 17

                Spring Break, No class


March 24



White House organization

Executive Branch

READ: E&W (6-9) and Nelson (7, 15, 16)


March 31

                Decision Making

Media and Public Opinion

READ: E&W (4, 5) and Nelson (10 – 12)


April 7

Congress – part 1

READ: E&W (10) and Nelson (17)



April 14

Congress – part 2

READ: E&W (10) and Nelson (19)


April 21


READ: E&W (11) and Nelson (18)


April 28

Domestic Policy Making

Economic Policy Making

READ: E&W (12-13)


May 5

                Final exam, 8:15pm to 10:45pm