The American public hungers for a heroic leader. From John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, every American president has left office either under a cloud or as a failed leader. Michael A. Genovese argues that presidents are set up for failure; it is not specific presidents but the presidency itself that is the problem.
The presidency was designed to prevent tyranny through a system of separation of powers that inhibits presidents from exercising sufficient power to meet the demands and expectations that developed over time. Each new president dreams of success, only to be crushed by the paralytic weight of vetoes and roadblocks. As they fail to meet expectations, Americans turn on them, making their already precarious position much worse. Given the perilous nature of the office, Genovese examines the skills required to achieve success and the roles of power and persuasion. He also examines how globalization and the rapid pace of change contribute to the decline of presidential power.
This accessible synthesis of scholarship is geared toward an audience that is hungry to unravel the dilemmas of presidential leadership. Students of the presidency will find it insightful; general readers will find it illuminating.