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Breaking Through the Noise: Presidential Leadership, Public Opinion, and the News Media

by Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha Jeffrey S. Peake

Modern presidents engage in public leadership through national television addresses, routine speechmaking, and by speaking to local audiences. With these strategies, presidents tend to influence the media's agenda. In fact, presidential leadership of the news media provides an important avenue for indirect presidential leadership of the public, the president's ultimate target audience. Although frequently left out of sophisticated treatments of the public presidency, the media are directly incorporated into this book's theoretical approach and analysis. The authors find that when the public expresses real concern about an issue, such as high unemployment, the president tends to be responsive. But when the president gives attention to an issue in which the public does not have a preexisting interest, he can expect, through the news media, to directly influence public opinion. Eshbaugh-Soha and Peake offer key insights on when presidents are likely to have their greatest leadership successes and demonstrate that presidents can indeed "break through the noise" of news coverage to lead the public agenda.

Treaty Politics and the Rise of Executive Agreements

by Jeffrey S. Peake Glen S. Krutz

"From readingTreaty Politics and the Rise of Executive Agreements, I learned a good deal about a topic that I thought I knew well. This book will be an excellent addition to the literature on the presidency; it will be read and cited by scholars working in this field. " ---Benjamin Ginsberg, Johns Hopkins University The expansion of executive power has been referred to pejoratively as the rise of the "imperial presidency. " In foreign relations, presidents have exercised a growing independence through the use of executive agreements. The U. S. Constitution specifies that two-thirds of the Senate must ratify a proposed treaty and makes no provision for other forms of international agreements. In 1942, however, the Supreme Court affirmed the legality of executive agreements; and since WWII, they have outnumbered treaties by more than ten to one. Are presidents trampling the Constitution or seeking to streamline the diplomatic process? Glen S. Krutz and Jeffrey S. Peake argue that the preference for executive agreements is the result of a symbiotic evolution of the executive and the legislative branches. In order for the United States to survive in a complex, ever-changing global environment and maintain its world power status, it must complete international commitments swiftly and confidently. Members of Congress concur that executive agreements allow each branch to function more effectively. At the same time, the House continues to oversee particular policy areas; and presidents still submit the majority of the most significant international commitments to the Senate as treaties. Rather than an assault on the balance of power, Krutz and Peake conclude, executive agreements represent a mutual adaptation of the executive and the legislature in a system of shared power. Glen S. Krutz is Associate Director of the Carl Albert Center and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma. Jeffrey S. Peake is Associate Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University.

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