THE PARADOXES OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY by Thomas Cronin

THE PARADOXES OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Americans' paradoxical views of the presidency are explored by two political scientists. Cronin (The State of the Presidency, not reviewed, etc.) and Genovese (The Presidential Dilemma, not reviewed, etc.) focus on the contradictory yearning of Americans to have a leader who is both ``one of the people'' and someone far removed from identification with the masses. This paradox is less daunting when the president possesses the political genius and natural affability of a Lincoln or an FDR, but it does pose a problem when, say, someone lacking the common touch, like Richard Nixon, is in office. Less paradoxical perhaps is the issue of the Electoral College, which the authors address and for which they offer a solution: the National Bonus Plan, in which the ``winner takes all'' system would be supplanted by a bonus for the popular vote-winner to ensure that the electoral and popular majorities are never different, as has been the case four times in the nation's history. But while the National Bonus Plan is presented at some length, other approaches to streamlining the presidency are given little consideration, e.g., the six-year, nonrenewable term (labeled ``nonsense'' by the authors) and a move to a more parliamentary style of government in which the president would be subject to no-confidence votes and would therefore be more easily removed in the case of a scandal. Cronin and Genovese, while they present a mass of detail about the presidency and our ideas and expectations concerning it, occasionally weaken their arguments by dismissing too many alternatives without making a solid case against them. Still, their scholarship is thorough, and their book makes good introductory reading on our conflicted feelings about the nation's highest office.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-19-511692-5
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997




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