THE GROWING POWERS OF THE PRESIDENCY by Dr. Nicholas A. & Mary E. Baluss Masters


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In effect, a lecture course on aspects of the Presidency with appended documentation, the documents comprising approximately half, and clearly the better half, of the book. What we have here is a synthesis which is less lucid and less provocative than Clinton Rossiter's The American Presidency, which can also be handled by alert high schoolers. The section on campaigning, rather stale in any case, equates a winning personality with personal efficacy in office; it also contains several small errors (e.g. the unit rule, nomination by acclamation). That on extra-constitutional powers does highlight the significance of the Budgetary and Accounting Act and the large executive bureaucracy, also of the President's personal staff, but without noting a countervailing outcome: an executive department which can continue to function with little Presidential guidance. This omission tends to vitiate the authors' concluding proposals for mitigating the pressure on the incumbent; however, their concern for keeping power responsive to public opinion is timely if their specific suggestions (such as tightening party discipline) seem particularly impracticable at the moment. The value of the book rests primarily on the discussion of the President as domestic leader because it is this that is buttressed by the majority of documents, from Jackson's message explaining his veto of the Bank Bill through Lincoln's justification for restricting civil liberties to Wilson, T. R. and F. D. R. (The T. R. letters and the Wilson change of view are particularly revealing.) A useful book within limits, then, but not an entirely satisfactory overview.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1968
Publisher: Parents' Magazine Press