In today's "trial by media" election campaigns, do you have to be crazy to run for higher office? Looking back over the past 25 years, Stanley Renshon provides the first comprehensive account of how the issue of character has come to dominate presidential campaigns. He traces two related but distinctive approaches to a candidate's psychology: mental health and character. Drawing on his clinical and political science training, Renshon has devised a theory which will allow the public to better evaluate the personal and leadership qualities of presidential candidates.
For whatever reasontelevision, the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, an era of budgetary restraintsissues of the "character," and even the mental health, of our presidents now challenge public policy as the main concern of American voters. Renshon, a political scientist and certified psychoanalyst who has published in the area of political psychology (High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and the Politics of Ambition, LJ 5/15/96), here attempts to construct an assessment theory of presidential candidates. Unfortunately, the study's armchair quality limits its appeal. Questions posed and answers given are fair-minded and reasonable, but the work tends toward the subjective and lacks the boldness of James David Barber's Presidential Character (1972). For academic political science collections.William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport