Paradoxes of the American
- Americans demand powerful presidential leadership to address and solve the
country's problems but are simultaneously suspicious of centralized leadership
and abuse of power.
- The President should be a "man of the people" and also have extraordinary
ability, charisma, heroic character and vision.
- Americans expect the President to be warm, caring, compassionate but also
ruthless, clever, guileful.
- Presidents are admired for rising "above politics" and adopting a
nonpartisan or bipartisan approach but the office requires a master politician
- Presidents are expected to unify the country but also hold firm to
controversial principles and policies that will be divisive.
- We require that the President be creative, bold and visionary but also
pragmatic and responsive to public opinion.
- Confidence and self assurance are required but arrogance and a sense of
infallibility are rejected.
- We elect presidents on the basis of their campaign skills which may not
translate into governing skills and may indeed be very different entirely.
- The office of the President is sometimes too strong for circumstances
and at other times too weak.
- Presidents are expected to affirm and maintain traditions and the
existing order in society while simultaneously creating
a new order and departures from the norm.
* See The Paradoxes of the American Presidency by Cronin