Theories of the American Presidency

  • William F. Grover
  • Joseph G. Peschek
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


At a press conference on May 27, 2010, President Obama addressed the ongoing crisis of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. More than a month earlier the rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring 17. The resulting hole in the well head gushed some 53,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf, creating the largest marine oil spill in US history. By the time the well was capped 87 days later, more than 210 million gallons of oil, and about 500,000 tons of natural gas, had been released—amounting to, as one analyst put, “one Exxon-Valdez-sized oil spill every three to four days.”1 The world held its breath—and millions watched with intense interest the online oil spill live cam—as the Obama administration, industry officials, and environmentalists worked furiously to stop the rampaging oil. Years after the disaster, the Gulf ecosystem remained deeply impacted, and BP continues to fight in court to have its settlement payments reduced.2 The quote above was part of President Obama’s effort to show his concern for the ongoing damage being inflicted on the environment, recalling his daughter Malia’s concern that he “plug the hole” through which the ecosystem of the Gulf coast was being ravaged. Even his children, we were assured, were keeping the President’s feet to the fire on this disaster.


Foreign Policy Chief Executive Executive Power Public Expectation American Presidency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Antonia Juhasz, “Two Years Later: BP’s Toxic Legacy,” The Nation, May 7, 2012.Google Scholar
  2. See also Naomi Klein, “Gulf Oil Spill: A Hole in the World,” The Guardian (UK), June 20, 2010. The Exxon-Valdez spill occurred in 1989.Google Scholar
  3. For an account of the record $4.5 billion settlement between BP and the Department of Justice in November of 2012, see Jason Leopold, “BP Will ‘Kill Again,’ Former EPA Officials, Attorney Warn,” Truthout, November 18, 2012.Google Scholar
  4. For an analysis of the oil spill, see also William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling, Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    Dahr Jamail, “Gulf Ecosystem in Crisis Three Years after BP Spill,” Al Jazeera English, October 21, 2013.Google Scholar
  6. Rebecca Leber, “Judge Deals a Blow to BP’s Efforts to Dodge Deepwater Horizon Payments”, Nation of Change, December 26, 2013.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    President Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on Climate Change,” The White House, June 25, 2013.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Obama, quoted in Bill McKibben, “Our Protest Must Short Circuit the Fossil Fuel Interests Blocking Obama,” The Guardian (UK), January 6, 2013.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    See William F. Grover, The President as Prisoner: A Structural Critique of the Carter and Reagan Years, Albany, NY: SUNY, 1989, especially Chapter 1, “The Rise and Decline of Presidency Fetishism.” Some of the language and analysis in this chapter is from The President as Prisoner.Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Ibid., pp. 1–5. See also the discussion of Hamilton’s fuller meaning in Michael A. Genovese, ed., Contending Approaches to the American Presidency, Washington, DC: SAGE/CQ Press, 2012, pp. 12–19.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    Theodore Lowi, The Personal President, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 96.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Harold Laski, The American Presidency: An Interpretation, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940, p. 11.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Clinton Rossiter, The American Presidency, revised ed., New York: Mentor Books, 1960, p. 14.Google Scholar
  14. 25.
    Grover, The President as Prisoner, pp.32–39. Among many accounts, see also Thomas E. Cronin and Michael A. Genovese, The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 107–115;Google Scholar
  15. Stephen Skowronek, “Mission Accomplished,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 39, no. 4, December 2009, pp. 795–804;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Michael Nelson, “Neustadt’s ‘Presidential Power’at 50,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 28, 2010.Google Scholar
  17. 26.
    Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1980, p. 136.Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    Genovese, A Presidential Nation: Causes, Consequences and Cures, Boulder, CO: Westview, 2013, p. 3.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    Lori Cox Han, New Directions in the American Presidency, New York: Routledge, 2011, p. 4.Google Scholar
  20. 30.
    Edward S. Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, 4th ed., New York: New York University Press, 1957, pp. 29–30, 307.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., War and the American Presidency, New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. See especially Chapter 3, “The Imperial Presidency Redux.”Google Scholar
  22. 33.
    Thomas E. Cronin, The State of the Presidency, 2nd ed., Boston: Little Brown, 1980; Cronin and Genovese, The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, especially Chapter 1;Google Scholar
  23. Theodore J. Lowi, The Personal President, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  24. 37.
    Andrew J. Bacevich, “The American Political Tradition,” The Nation, July 17, 2006, p. 23.Google Scholar
  25. 39.
    This is true even with much more richly developed approach of “new institutionalism” via analysis of political regime changes. See Stephen Skowronek, “Presidential Leadership in Political Time,” in Michael Nelson, ed., The Presidency and the Political System, 5th ed., Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2003;Google Scholar
  26. Skowronek, “Mission Accomplished”; and his seminal The Politics Presidents Make, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.Google Scholar
  27. 40.
    Bruce Miroff, Pragmatic Illusions: The Presidential Politics of John F. Kennedy, New York: David McKay Co., 1976, p. xiii.Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    See Lawrence R. Jacobs and Desmond S. King, “Varieties of Obamaism: Structure, Agency and the Obama Presidency,” Perspectives on Politics, 8, no. 3, September 2010, pp. 794–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 42.
    Ira Katznelson and Mark Kesselman, The Politics of Power, 2nd ed., New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979, p. 265. For a solid brief overview of similar critiques of Neustadt and the ends of power, see Cronin and Genovese, The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, pp. 111–113.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© William F. Grover and Joseph G. Peschek 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Grover
  • Joseph G. Peschek

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations