In an election year in which everyone seems to be looking for change, Tom Cronin reminds us that it is important to look back at presidential precedents and pitfalls, carrying forward these lessons as we look ahead in the "search for the perfect president." America has never had a perfect president, nor are we likely to. We yearn for qualities of mind, character, and experience that are rarely found in one person. Candidates always have the flaws associated with being human. Noted presidential scholar Thomas E. Cronin helps us consider these realities with clarity and empathy, as one who has both written about presidents and run for office himself. Cronin unabashedly issues three cheers for those who run, and for all their helpers and advisers who provide us choices. In this election year, incredible diversity and therefore sharp disagreements of ideology and values prevail. Cronin puts all this in context with the history of the American presidency from George Washington to George W. Bush with a special focus on what he calls the "Act III" presidency of JFK. He takes us from the fiction of "searching for the perfect president" to the facts of the presidency in the post-9/11 world. Whether the next president is soldier, shaman, or somewhere in-between, Cronin gives us a glimpse of presidents future through the lens of presidents past.
"For the past forty years, Tom Cronin has been one of the most creative students of the presidency and a president in his own right, a keen observer of national politics, a candidate for national office, and a White House staffer. In this book, he brings his unique vantage points, insights, and knowledge to describe the paradoxes and puzzles of the contemporary presidency and offers clues to resolving these paradoxes and solving the puzzles."
—Stephen J. Wayne, Georgetown University
"Thank you for letting me read Tom Cronin’s On the Presidency. It is the most realistic and probing study of the presidency I have encountered. From his lifelong study of political leaders, Tom Cronin has delivered a timely and readable account of the accomplishments and failings of the presidency. This is a sophisticated primer on the essence of the presidency in the past and today."
—the late James MacGregor Burns, author of Readership and Running Alone
Preface Chapter 1: Searching for the Perfect Presidency Chapter 2: The Symbolic and Shamanistic Functions of the American Presidency Chapter 3: Overcoming Groupthink, the Separation of Brain and State, and Machiavelli's Flattery Conundrum Chapter 4: President John F. Kennedy: Act III Politician Chapter 5: Problematic Presidential Power in Our Post-9/11 World Notes Index About the Author