Joining the ‘Book Party’

Bruce Miroff's book is one of four The Washington Post put on President-Elect Trump's suggested reading list. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 14, 2016) — As the nation continues to dissect the presidential election and understand what a President Trump will be like, many turn to historians, political scientists and scholars for answers.

Bruce Miroff, professor for Political Science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, is one such scholar. Miroff was among four writers cited in an article in The Washington Post Sunday focusing on “the perils of a presidency too reliant on star power.”

Trump, wrote Carlos Lozada in the Post, would not have won the Republican nomination or the White House if it weren’t for his celebrity — “as a tabloid fixation, billionaire developer, reality-television star, Twitter fiend.” Now, “if he wants to have a chance at an effective presidency, Trump will have to do something that appears contrary to his nature: He will have to cease behaving like a celebrity. Trump must relinquish spectacle, trading it in for the unglamorous business of governing.”

Lozada’s article, part of The Washington Post’s “book party” series, recommends four books on presidential politics — including Miroff’s Presidents on Political Ground: Leaders in Action and What They Face — that examine “White House decision-making and crisis management.” Lozada encourages President-elect Trump to read the four books during his transition to office, but they’re also available to those of us not heading for a new home in Washington.

Miroff’s book suggests that Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and Obama are all examples of “the president as the country’s chief celebrity,” a trend that grew as the media grew from local to national.

“A growing amount of presidential activity is akin to pro wrestling,” Miroff writes. “The contemporary presidency is presented by the White House as a series of spectacles in which a larger-than-life main character and a supporting team engage in emblematic bouts with immoral or dangerous adversaries.”

The four books are:

  • Why Presidents Fail: And How They Can Succeed Again, by Elaine C. Kamarck (Brookings)
  • Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management From the Oval Office, by Tevi Troy (Lyons Press)
  • Worst. President. Ever. James Buchanan, the POTUS Ratings Game, and the Legacy of the Least of the Lesser Presidents, by Robert Strauss (Lyons Press)
  • Presidents on Political Ground: Leaders in Action and What They Face, by Bruce Miroff (University Press of Kansas)

You can read the full Washington Post article here. “Trump the celebrity won the White House,” Lozada concludes. “But Trump the celebrity can’t survive in it.”

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