Cover image for At the margins : presidential leadership of Congress
At the margins : presidential leadership of Congress
Edwards, George C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
xiv, 233 pages ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


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JK585 .E32 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this book George Edwards explores how and under what conditions presidents lead Congress, what we can reasonably expect of them, and how we should evaluate their performance. Integrating quantitative analysis with documentary and historical research, Edwards argues that the most effective chief executive is a facilitator, who works at the margins-rather than at the core-of coalition building. Presidents are not by themselves going to bring about major changes in public policy, says Edwards, and we must adjust accordingly our expectations of their leadership.

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Choice Review

In this revealing book, Edwards examines the relationship between the president and Congress from Eisenhower to Reagan. Edwards contends that congressional victories are won "at the margins" and depend on three variables: the president's ability to woo his fellow partisans; the extent to which a president is able to garner support in the public opinion polls; and a president's skills in setting the legislative agenda and in bargaining with members of Congress. Numerous case studies are cited to buttress the argument. Edwards's hypothesis is not new, but he manages to plow new ground anyway. In a revealing chapter, he debunks "the two presidencies" concept developed by Aaron Wildavsky--"The Two Presidencies," Trans-Action 4 (December 1966): 7-14--as an idea valid only during the Eisenhower Administration. Edwards consults several well-known sources about presidential-congressional relations, especially James MacGregor Burn's Leadership (1984), Samuel Kernell's Going Public (CH, Sep '86), and Richard Neustadt's Presidential Power (CH, Sep '80). The book would have benefitted from a selected bibliography. All undergraduate and graduate institutions. -J. K. White, Catholic University of America