Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is George W. Bush One of Our Ten Greatest Presidents?

Yes, he is. At least that’s one superficial way to interpret the results of Gallup’s most recent annual President’s Day poll.  When asked to name the greatest president, Bush came in tied for 10th with Thomas Jefferson in votes received, … Continue reading

“Take a Law, Grace”: How Presidents Really Make Policy

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was known to turn to his secretary, Grace Tully, and begin dictation by saying, “Grace, take a law”.  Roosevelt’s quip was a play on line from a George M. Cohan musical, I’d Rather Be Right, which … Continue reading

Egypt, Iraq and the Limits of Presidential Power

One of the enduring debates among presidency scholars is whether and to what degree presidents are more powerful in foreign than in domestic affairs. The answer, as you might expect, depends in large part on how one defines “power” and … Continue reading

Reagan, Obama and the Myth of the Teflon Presidency

Last Sunday marked the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth.  The anniversary occasioned numerous tributes and remembrances, most of which noted Reagan’s celebrated skills as the “Great Communicator” and his reputation for developing a “Teflon Presidency” – one that somehow escaped … Continue reading

Guess Who’s Gaining Popularity? (It’s Not Who You Think!)

Numerous pundits have noted that President Obama’s approval ratings, after remaining stagnant through much of 2010, began slowly climbing in December.  Typically, they attribute this climb to some combination of the following factors:  public support for the compromise legislation passed … Continue reading