Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again

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9780815727781: Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again

At the beginning of the century, the majority of Americans were satisfied with the way things were going in the United States. And then a slow decline began, seemingly uninterrupted by changes in party or achievements by the White House. As the campaigning for the next president begins, the question we ask ourselves now is who will be the most competent leader? In Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again, Elaine Kamarck asks another important question: When did Americans lose faith in their leaders? And how can they get it back?
Kamarack argues that presidents today spent too much time talking, and not enough time governing. After decades of "imperial" and "rhetorical" presidencies, we are in need of a "managerial" president. In her fully readable and accessible book, she explains the difficulties of governing in our modern political landscape, and offers examples and recommendations of how our next president can not only recreate faith in leadership, but also run a competent, successful administration.

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From the Inside Flap:

From the botched attempt to rescue the U.S. diplomats held hostage by Iran in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and the missed intelligence on Al Qaeda before 9/11 under George W. Bush to, most recently, the computer meltdown that marked the arrival of health care reform under Barack Obama, the American presidency has often been a profile in failure. In Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again, Elaine Kamarck surveys presidential failures to understand why Americans have lost faith in their leaders—and how they can get it back.
Kamarck, a White House insider and Harvard academic, argues that presidents today spend too much time talking and not enough time governing. They have not balanced three components of leadership that must be exercised to bring about good results: policy, communication, and implementation. Instead, presidents have allowed themselves to become more and more distant from the federal bureaucracy that is supposed to implement policy. After decades of "imperial" and "rhetorical: presidencies, we are in need of a "managerial" president. Kamarck explains the difficulties of governing in our modern political landscape, and offers examples and recommendations of how our next presidents can not only recreate faith in leadership but also run a competent, successful administration.

About the Author:


Elaine C. Kamarck is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and the founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management. She is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a public sector scholar with wide experience in government, academia, and politics. Kamarck is an expert on government innovation and reform in the United States, OECD countries, and developing countries. In addition, she focuses her research on the presidential nomination system and American politics and has worked in several American presidential campaigns.

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