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Per the course catalog: “Examination of the modern American presidency from the combined perspectives of history, political science, and speech communication.”

Per my vision:

I know that when things don’t go well they like to blame the Presidents, and that is one of the things which Presidents are paid for.”

-John F. Kennedy, 1962

The president is the most visible and recognizable symbol of our federal government. As Edwards and Wayne explain in their introduction that everybody expects something from the president: “Executive officials look to (the presidency) for direction, coordination, and general guidance in the implementation of policy…Congress looks to it for establishing priorities, exerting influence…the heads of foreign governments look to it for articulating positions, conducting diplomacy and flexing muscle; the general public looks to it for…solving problems, and exercising symbolic and moral leadership…”

Despite such a large job description, the president must work within the separation of powers that provides the framework of the federal government. In Presidential Power, Richard Neustadt argues that the Constitution makes the president more clerk than king, and that presidential power is the power of influence, based on the president’s powers of persuasion. In The Presidential Character, James David Barber says that presidential performance is based on the total character of the person occupying the White House.

In this class, we will look at how presidents attain the office; at the presidency as a political institution, including its interaction with other governmental structures; at the president’s relationship with the media and the public; the staff who do a bulk of the work; and we will look at the psychology and character of presidents.