The Presidential Leadership Dilemma

Between the Constitution and a Political Party

Edited by Julia R. Azari, Lara M. Brown, and Zim G. Nwokora

Subjects: Presidency, The, Political Parties, Political Science, Constitutional Studies
Series: SUNY series in American Constitutionalism
Paperback : 9781438446004, 259 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438445991, 259 pages, April 2013

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: A Rock and a Hard Place: Between a Party and the People
Julia R. Azari, Lara M. Brown, and Zim Nwokora
1. Pathways to the Nomination: An Analytic Framework
Zim Nwokora
2. Presidential Mandates and the Leadership Dilemma: William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama
Julia Azari
3. Playing for History: The Reelection Leadership Choices of Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush
Lara M. Brown
4. Presidents, Leverage, and Significant Public Policy
Daniel E. Ponder
5. The Base Realignment and Closing Commission: Difficult Choices, Electoral Considerations, and the Future of National Leadership in a Partisan Age
Lilly J. Goren
6. The Paradoxes of Presidential Leadership in Pursuing Policy Goals: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the lifting of the Ban on Gays and Lesbians in the Military
Benjamin A. Copeland and Victoria A. Farrar-Myers
7. Taking Credit and Avoiding Blame: The Politics of Rhetorical Signing Statements Under Unified and Divided Government
Christopher S. Kelley, Bryan W. Marshall, and Deanna Watts
8. President Obama and Counterterrorism Policy: When Campaign Promises Meet Governing Imperatives
Nancy Kassop and Steven Goldzwig
Conclusion: The Right Choice at the Right Time
Julia R. Azari, Lara M. Brown, and Zim Nwokora

Examines how the president balances the competing demands of leading his political party and leading the nation.


Throughout their time in office, American presidents are often forced to choose between leading the nation and leading their party. In an earlier time when the major parties were less polarized, this leadership dilemma, while challenging, was not nearly as vexing as it is today. American presidents now find themselves with little room to maneuver, compelled to serve the Constitution on the one hand and yet caught within bitter partisan disputes and large numbers of unaffiliated voters on the other. The contributors to this volume investigate how recent presidents have navigated these increasingly rocky political waters. Focusing on campaign strategy, presidential rhetoric, relations with Congress, domestic and foreign policy, The Presidential Leadership Dilemma presents a wide-ranging, detailed, and fascinating study of how contemporary presidents face the challenge at the heart of every presidency.

Julia R. Azari is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. Lara M. Brown is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University and the author of Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants. Zim G. Nwokora is Post-Doctoral Fellow in Politics at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University in Australia.