by Lewis L. Gould
A solid and thoughtful look at the Presidents from McKinley to Bush, with a focus on their relationship to the press and to the executive office itself.
Gould actually gives a lot of credit for the creation of the modern office to McKinley. He made the White House as opposed to Congress the center of public attention by opening a press room in the White Houseduring the Spanish-American War.McKinley was also the first to authorize, using the "independent action of the executive," the use of expert commissions to both study and run government functions, starting in the Philippines. By 1900 some were already complaining about a new kind of "government by commission." His assistant George Cortelyou also organized the modern hierarchy in the office and its filing system, and carried his expertise over into assisting Teddy Roosevelt.
Gould also highlights such important transformations in the presidency as the first presidential speechwriter, Judson Welliver, the former Iowa journalist who finally gave syntax and order to the speeches of Warren G. Harding, and later Calvin Coolidge (since everyone was a "clerk" in those days he was employed as a "literary clerk" by the President.) Harding actually made some other important innovations, like the first Budget Bureau (though it was then in the Treasury Department, not the White House), and his cabinet secretary, Herbert Hoover, proffered a suggestion to organize the War and Navy Departments into a single Department of Defense (which wouldn't happen for another 30 years).
The tone of the book does get a little angrier as it approaches the present, and the writer more and more frequently decries the "continuous campaign" that has arisen, but he almost goes off the deep end with the Clinton and Bush chapters. His rage against the congressional Republicans that impeached Clinton (admittedly few people's idea of a selfless act) is shocking, and often takes him beyond the nominal focus of his book. In Bush, his bile for the former President is so strong as to taint everything it touches, making this chapter just a laundry list of complaints familiar to anyone who lived through those years.
Still, for a succinct and clear look at the presidency as both an office and a succession of individuals, this is a good start.
|Title||The Modern American Presidency|
|eBook format||Paperback, (torrent)|
|Author||Lewis L. Gould|
|Publisher||University Press of Kansas|
|File size||1.3 Mb|
|Book rating||3.5 (54 votes)