The President as Prisoner: A Structural Critique of the Carter and Reagan Years

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SUNY Press, Jul 15, 1989 - Political Science - 232 pages
This book focuses, not on the Constitutional balance of power between Congress and the White House a focus that restricts analysis to questions of means but on the more unsettling and often unexamined question of the ends of the presidency and American public policy. It offers a structural theory which links what a president can do to the underlying interests behind and ideology of the capitalist state. Structural theory insists upon an encounter between theories of the state and theories of the presidency, and in so doing steers the field of presidential studies into largely uncharted territory.

Grover explores the tradeoffs and limitations encountered by Presidents Carter and Reagan as they pursued the goals of economic prosperity and national security. He argues that the limitations imposed on the presidency are more complicated than the personal deficiencies of a particular person. Such structural limitations, Grover notes, are not merely constitutional but economic and statist. His analogy of the president as prisoner in this larger sense is compelling.

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Page 6 - The President can never again be the mere domestic figure he has been throughout so large a part of our history. The nation has risen to the first rank in power and resources. The other nations of the world look askance upon her, half in envy, half in fear, and wonder with a deep anxiety what she will do with her vast strength.

About the author (1989)

William F. Grover is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Saint Michael s College in Winooski, Vermont. He has been a visiting instructor at both Moravian College and Smith College.

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