Dr. Mario Guerrero
Office Phone: (909) 869-3885
Meeting Time: TuTh 1:00-2:50PM
Classroom Location: Building 5, Room 262
Office Hours: TuTh 10:30AM – 12:30PM, & by appointment
Office Location: 94-316
What is this course about?
This course is dedicated to a systematic examination of the United States presidency. While the American Presidency is known as one of the most powerful offices in the world, scholars struggle to understand the complexities of the office and the motives of those people who have held that office. This course introduces students to important and theoretical works in US presidency research. Doing so gives you a perspective of how scholars think about the executive branch, encouraging you to think critically and assess presidential administrations on your own.
The purpose of this class is to examine the presidency and its place in American politics, including its origin and development. Students should be able to assess the ways in which presidents make decisions and seek to shape foreign, economic, and domestic policy. The course is intended to address several questions about the presidency. These questions include but are not limited to: What is the relationship of the presidency with other governmental institutions? To what extent do presidents compromise with other elected officials? How often do presidents respond to public opinion? Which theories best explain how presidents make decisions? What constraints influence the presidents ability to demonstrate leadership in the United States political system? One of the core tenets of this class is leadership. While the knowledge that we extract from academic work is important, the principles of leadership can be practically applied to your own lives and careers.
What books do we need?
In an effort to save you money, there are no textbooks or printed reader for this course. All required readings will be found online. Please visit the course website for frequent updates. If you have trouble with accessing course materials or prefer printed readings, please contact me to make alternate arrangements.
5% Pre-Assessment: In one-to-two pages, students will be asked to analyze the modern presidency. The pre-assessment is due Tuesday, April 3.
15% Presidential Profile: Students will be asked to profile a modern president. The profile is 7-8 pages in length and is due Thursday, May 3.
15% Field Trip: As a class, we will travel to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum during the fourth week of the quarter on Saturday, April 21.
10% Presentation: Students will be required to present their complete library proposal. These presentations are scheduled for the eighth, ninth, and tenth weeks of the quarter.
15% Participation: This class requires students to participate in active discussion in class. The expectation is that students will participate at least once during every course meeting. For students who feel reluctant to speak up in class, I will extend class discussion to three social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share course lessons on these platforms with BOTH hashtags #learningthepresidency and #learnbydoing. Students who successfully have a member of Congress like, retweet, or comment on their posts (based on the course material) will unlock 1.5% extra credit for the course. Students who get blocked by Donald Trump on Twitter (for a non-defamatory post based on the course material) will unlock 5% extra credit for the course. Students are also expected to be present and on time. Each lecture counts as a point. You will lose 1/2 point for tardiness. Absences and tardiness will not be excused under any circumstance.
20% Midterm Exam: To be held on Thursday, April 26.
30% Final Exam: To be held on Thursday, June 7
Grade Appeals. The period for grade appeals begins 24 hours after an assignment is handed back. The grade appeal must be made within a week of receiving the grade. The appeal must be written and made during office hours.
Please note the following schedule is subject to change throughout the quarter. The readings listed are required before each lecture.
Week 1 (3/26-3/30): Course Introduction.
Tuesday, March 27. Course Introduction. What “makes” a president?
Thursday, March 29. No Class. Western Political Science Association Conference.
Readings: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., “Rating the Presidents: From Washington to Clinton.” Political Science Quarterly 112(2): 179-190.
Week 2 (4/2-4/5): Evaluating the Presidency by using the Framers’ Intent
Tuesday, April 3. Evaluating the Presidency. How do we evaluate the president in the past, present, and future?
Readings: James Fallows. 2012. “Obama, Explained.” The Atlantic. 6 February.
Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn. 2018. “Official results of the 2018 presidents & executive politics presidential greatness survey.” Web.
- What is the difference between expressed powers, delegated powers, and inherent powers?
- What factors emerged as important criteria in evaluating presidential administrations?
- Briefly describe the methodology that the Schlesinger polls use in order to rank presidents.
- Why is an administration like Ronald Reagan’s a reason to be weary of Schlesinger’s rankings?
- What political science term is connected to Teddy Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit”? How do we define this term?
- Why should we be weary of using polls in evaluating presidential administrations?
- What are forecasting models? How do forecasting models undercut our sense of leadership in the presidency?
Pre-Assessment Due. Tuesday, April 3, 2018
- Prompt (PDF)
Wednesday, April 4. Grading the Trump Administration Panel.
Citrus College, Building CI 159, 10:00AM
Thursday April 5. The Framers’ Intent. How does the concept of “energy” translate into current presidential administrations?
Readings: Jeffrey K. Tulis. 2003. The Two Constitutional Presidencies. The Presidency and the Political System. Washington DC: CQ Press.
- In what way is a president’s power different than a monarch?
- What is energy? What are some visible outcomes of energy that we see in the executive?
- What are four ways that the Founders assured that the executive branch would have energy?
- What is self-preservation? What are the primary objectives of the other two branches beside the executive?
- How does the federalist perspective differ from the Wilsonian perspective of the executive?
- Is Wilson correct in asserting that the objectives of the branches should be revised in light of changes in the American political landscape?
- How can appealing to the public hurt or damage the executive branch?
Week 3 (4/9-4/13): Expanding Power in the Imperial Presidency
Tuesday, April 10. The Imperial Presidency. What is the imperial presidency?
Readings: Richard Neustadt. 1990. “Leader or Clerk?” Presidential Power and the Modern Presidencies: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. New York: The Free Press.
Richard Neustadt. 1990. “The Power to Persuade.” Presidential Power and the Modern Presidencies: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. New York: The Free Press.
- What is the imperial presidency? For what reasons and how might we expect the modern presidency to be characterized in this way?
- How does Richard Neustadt describe presidential power? How does this power work in regard to the president’s relationship with Congress?
- Based on his writings about the presidency, would Woodrow Wilson be an advocate for the imperial presidency? Why?
- In the president’s relationship with the legislative branch and judicial branch, do we see evidence for the imperial presidency?
- Given the scope of presidential powers granted in the Constitution, could we consider the rhetorical presidency as part of the development described in the imperial presidency?
Thursday, April 12. The Presidency and Legislative Power. Is the never-ending struggle between Congress and the presidency, which branch is better suited for leadership?
- What official constitutional power grants the president power over the legislative branch? What other clause in the Constitution might give the president the ability to capitalize on her relationship with Congress?
- We discussed four ways in which Congress qualifies presidential power. What are those four ways?
- How do approval ratings affect the relationship between Congress and the president?
- Personal style and skill are important to the executive-legislative relationship. How does President Obama’s handling of Congress exemplify his skill in navigating this relationship?
- In sum, in considering the executive and legislative branch, which has become more powerful over time?
Readings: Matt Bai. 2009. “Taking the Hill“. New York Times, 2 June.
Carl Hulse, Jeremy W. Peters, and Michael D. Shear. 2014. “Obama is Seen as Frustrating His Own Party.” New York Times, 18 August.
Week 4 (4/16-4/22): Executive & Rhetorical Power.
Tuesday, April 17. The Presidency and Executive Power. As the leader of the executive branch, does the president have control over the bureaucracy?
Readings: Terry M. Moe. 2003. “The Presidency and the Bureaucracy: The Presidential Advantage.” The Presidency and the Political System. Washington DC: CQ Press.
Julie H. Davis. 2014. “Behind Closed Doors, Obama Crafts Executive Actions.” New York Times, 18 August.
- How do director and facilitator presidents differ in terms of leading the executive branch and bureaucracy?
- What does the Constitution say in regard to defining executive power? Why is policy implementation discussed in regard to executive power?
- What specific power does Congress have over the management of the bureaucracy? Has Congress been successful in managing the president’s oversight of the bureaucracy?
- What is policy transmission? Why might personal communication styles affect the ability of policy to be transmitted from the president to her bureaucratic agencies?
- Why and how does bureaucratic structure take power away from the president?
- Does the president defer to other branches of government in their management of the bureaucracy? Does a president have unparalleled control in managing the bureaucracy?
Thursday, April 19. The Presidency and Rhetorical Power. How has the president’s use of rhetoric changed over time?
Readings: Samuel Kernell. 1997. The Growth of Going Public. Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership. Washington DC: CQ Press.
- Why does the rhetorical presidency illustrate Tulis’ point that we have two perspectives of presidential power?
- What significance does the State of the Union Address carry in the rhetorical presidency?
- Samuel Kernell responds directly to Richard Neustadt in Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership. How does Kernell update Neustadt’s theory?
- There are three activities that a president undertakes in “going public”. What are these activities and what do they help a president accomplish?
- The anti-intellectual presidency is the “dark side” of the rhetorical presidency. If we agree with its findings, what does this demonstrate about the presidency and its relationship to the public?
- Should the president or the public be responsible in curtailing the negative effects of the rhetorical presidency? Should another entity limit the amount of pandering to the public?
Saturday, April 21. Field Trip to the Nixon Presidential Library.
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA, 10:00AM
Week 5 (4/23-4/27): Judicial Power & Midterm
Tuesday, April 24. The Presidency and Judicial Power. What developments in the modern presidency has influenced the president’s relationship with the judiciary?
Readings: David A. Yalof. 2003. The Presidency and the Judiciary. The Presidency and the Political System. Washington DC: CQ Press
Midterm. Thursday, April 26, 2018
- Midterm Review Session (DOCX)
Week 6 (4/30-5/4): Decision-making & Foreign Policy.
Tuesday, May 1. Presidential Decision-Making. How do individual president display different decision-making skills?
Readings: Richard E. Neustadt. 1990. Men in Office. Presidential Power and the Modern Presidencies: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. New York: The Free Press.
Roger B. Porter. 1982. Organizing the White House for Presidential Decision Making. Presidential Decision Making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- How do we define presidential decision-making and why is this important for the executive branch?
- A variety of different extraneous (outside) factors can affect presidential decision-making. In your opinion, which is one of the most significant of those factors?
- How does bureaucratic autonomy develop over time? What do agencies become particularly powerful in light of the oversight from Congress and the presidency?
- What are the drawbacks from the hierarchical-style approach of decision-making? What are the drawbacks from the spokes-of-the-wheel approach of decision-making?
- What are the two traits that James Barber discusses in his formulation of presidential character?
- Why do we care about presidential character as a facet of decision-making?
Thursday, May 3. The President and Foreign Policy. In examining decision-making, what factors seem to influence foreign policy decisions?
Readings: James P. Pffifner. 2011. Decision Making in the Obama White House. Presidential Studies Quarterly 41(2): 244-262.
Presidential Profile Due.
Thursday, May 3, 2018 Thursday, May 10, 2018
Week 7 (5/7-5/11): Domestic Policy & the EOP.
Tuesday, May 8. The President and Domestic Policy. What constraints do presidents face in the domestic arena that are not present in foreign policy?
Readings: Stuart Eizenstat. 1992. “Economists and White House Decisions.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 6(3): 65-71.
Thursday, May 10. The Executive Office of the President and the Evolving Role of the Vice-President. Has the Executive Office, including the Vice-President’s office, evolved beyond the scope of its original power?
Readings: John P. Burke. 2003. “The Institutional Presidency.” The Presidency and the Political System. Washington DC: CQ Press
Silverstein, Gordon. 2009. Bush, Cheney, and the Separation of Powers: A Lasting Legal Legacy? Presidential Studies Quarterly 39(4): 878-895.
Traub, James. 2009. After Cheney. New York Times, 24 November.
Week 8 (5/14-5/18): The First Lady & Female Executives.
Tuesday, May 15. The Evolving Role of the First Lady and Women Executives. Is the United States ready for a female president?
Readings: Heldman, Caroline. 2007. Cultural Barriers to a Female President in the United States. Rethinking Madam President. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Thursday, May 17. Presentations I. (Guidelines)
Week 9 (5/21-5/25): How do the Presidents Rank?
Tuesday, May 22. Presentations II. (Guidelines)
Thursday, May 24. Presentations III. (Guidelines)
Week 10 (5/28-6/1): How do the Presidents Rank?
Tuesday, May 29. Presentations VI. (Guidelines)
Thursday, May 31. Course Conclusion.
Powerpoint: Coming Soon.