Why Do Presidents Fail?


  • Richard M. Pious

    1. Adolph and Essie Ochs Professor at Barnard College and is a member of the/acuity of the Graduate School of Arts and. Sciences, Columbia University.
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As part of the future research agendaforpresidency scholars, this article deals with two distinct but related issues: the first involves failed presidential decision making, particularly in the employment of prerogative power; the second involves the failure ofinterbranch collaborative decision making. Such study offaikd presidential decision making is a topic of inquiry related to, but somewhat distinct from, the question of the “faikdpresidency” that has already engaged some presidency scholars. In some respects, presidential failures are the “black holes,” the singularities of presidential studies–the usuallaws of politics that apply to presidential “business as usual” seem not to apply inside the eventhorizon offiascoes. Such research might help us to explain the paradoxes of the postmodern presidency: with greater institutional resources, with more delegated powers from Congress, and with (presumably) more accumulated experience from presidency scholarship, one might expectfewer rather than more spectacular failures.