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On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit

On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit
Author: George C. Edwards III
ISBN 13: 9780300115819
ISBN 10: 300115814
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 2006-05-10
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
List Price: $32.00

The typical legislative strategy for recent presidents has been to move Congress by winning public support.  George Edwards analyzes hundreds of public opinion polls and finds that this strategy usually fails.  He explains why presidents are frequently unable to move public opinion and suggests they use other means to achieve legislative success.

"That presidents use the ‘bully pulpit’ to exert influence in Washington is a truism of American Politics. What Edwards finds in this remarkable book is that the truism isn’t true, that presidents—even those at the top of their form—persistently fail to move public sentiment in preferred directions."—James A. Stimson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Every serious scholar and student of American politics should read this book."—Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University

 "Edwards has done it again!  A bold, direct, convincing challenge to 30 years of literature."-Richard E. Neustadt, author of Presidential Power

Library Journal

If the findings in this book are correct, the effort by President Bush to convince the American public to support his request for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq is unlikely to sway voters. Edwards (Jordan Chair of Presidential Studies, Texas A&M Univ.), the author of several excellent books on the presidency, argues that presidents who attempt to move public opinion to support their policies or increase their personal approval ratings are more likely to fail than to succeed. To make his case, Edwards uses a rich array of public opinion data, drawing most heavily on a close analysis of the Reagan and Clinton presidencies. He examines the efficacy of the bully pulpit by considering the process of presidential communication, as reflected in the organization of the book's four parts: "Moving the Public," "The Messenger," "The Message," and "The Audience." He concludes that, if presidents hope to move their legislative agenda through Congress, they need to convince lawmakers directly. This important book will generate much discussion and is highly recommended for all libraries.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.