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On the Politics Skowronek Makes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2011


Although there is an enormous literature on presidential leadership, only a handful of books on the subject shape the terms of debate regarding the place of the presidency in the American political order. Edward Corwin's classic, The President: Office and Powers, written during the New Deal, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s Imperial Presidency, written during the Watergate era, are examples of such constitutive texts. Each reconceptualized the understanding of presidential leadership and connected that understanding to problems in the political order as a whole: they were synoptic, as well as constitutive texts.

Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. 1996

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1. Corwin, Edward S., The President: Office and Powers (New York, 1940)Google Scholar; Schtesinger, Arthur M. Jr., The Imperial Presidency (Boston, 1973).Google Scholar

2. Neustadt, Richard, Presidential Power (New York, 1960).Google Scholar

3. In his introductory remarks, Professor Neely indicates that he and fellow historians who previously relied upon students of elections in political science in their own work now tend to ignore political scientists who are students of the history of political thought. He suggests that the political theorists have little to say that is not derivative from the work of historians. No questionable opinion in Neely's essay seems to me farther from the truth than this one. Readers may decide for themselves. On Lincoln, for example, see the following political theorists: Thurow, Glen E., Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion (Albany, 1976)Google Scholar; Jaffa, Harry V., Crisis of the House Divided (Garden City, N.Y., 1959)Google Scholar; Norton, Anne, Alternative Americas: A Reading of Antebellum Political Culture (Chicago, 1986)Google Scholar; Rogin, Michael Paul, “The King's Two Bodies: Lincoln, Wilson, Nixon, and Presidential Self-Sacrifice,” in Greenstone, J. David, ed., Public Values and Private Power in American Politics (Chicago, 1982)Google Scholar. On republican ideology, see the following political theorists: Wolin, Sheldon S., The Presence of the Past (Baltimore, 1989)Google Scholar; Mansfield, Harvey C. Jr., Taming the Prince (New York, 1989)Google Scholar; Pangle, Thomas L., The Enobling of Democracy (Baltimore, 1992)Google Scholar; Lerner, Ralph, The Thinking Revolutionary (Ithaca, 1987)Google Scholar; Schmitt, Gary J. and Webking, Robert H., “Revolutionaries, Antifederalists, and Federalists: Comments on Gordon Wood's Understanding of the American Founding,” Political Science Reviewer 9 (1979): 215–29.Google Scholar

4. I thank my colleague Sandy Levinson for this point.