Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power: Chapter 4, "Professional Reputation"

Presidential persuasiveness also depends upon other actors' perception of his ability and will to use his advantages. Other Washington insiders form this perception on the basis of the president's past performance. Since every president's performance has its high and low points, what is looked for is a pattern of being skillful and tenacious, or the opposite.

Though a president can't expect to have a reputation for invincibility, he at the very least wants to leave his enemies with as much uncertainty as possible about the dangers of crossing him and his allies with as much certainty as possible about his steadiness if they support him.

The Eisenhower administration's budget prevarications of 1957 are an example of how presidential reputation is diminished. This situation was not permanent, however, which shows that a president has the means to recover a damaged reputation, even if this ability is limited.

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