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Personality and Politics
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Personality and Politics
Obama For and Against Himself



March 2011 | 176 pages | CQ Press

Renowned presidential scholar Stephen Wayne takes a close look at the interplay of personal character, partisan politics, and public opinion on presidential decision-making. In this systematic character study, Wayne considers how President Obama’s policy beliefs and operating style fueled his meteoric success as a candidate, but have had a decidedly mixed impact on his governance as president. Arguing that character matters, Wayne shows that Obama’s personal dimensions both contribute and detract from his policy achievements and political goals.

Taking into account the environment in which he took office up through the “shellacking” of the Democrats in November 2010, the book looks at how Obama has dealt with the troubled economy and a polarized political climate. Wayne sets his study within the larger literature on presidential character and explores the broader questions surrounding presidential leadership in a democratic society: Do presidents lead or follow public opinion? To what extent do leadership skills make a difference? What kind of policy and political impact can presidents have in the twenty-first century?


 
Introduction
A Disciplinary Dilemma

 
Character and Its Derivatives

 
Organization of the Book

 
 
Character Development
Race and Roots

 
Ambition and Politics

 
Adaption and Approval

 
Ego Checks and Guilt

 
 
Basic Beliefs
Commonality as a Value

 
Church and Community

 
Government and Society

 
Progressive Pragmatism

 
 
Operating Style
Cognition

 
Decision Making

 
Organization

 
Communication

 
Conciliation

 
 
Character-Based Tensions
Idealism and Pragmatism

 
Direction and Delegation

 
Vision and Compromise

 
Rationality and Empathy

 
Boldness and Caution

 
 
Political Impediments
Transitioning from Campaigning to Governing

 
The Limits of Presidential Power

 
Public Attitudes Toward Government

 
 
Democratic Leadership Dilemmas
Obama's Theory of Democratic Leadership

 
The Bully Pulpit and Its Limits

 
Obama's Practice of Democratic Leadership

 
 
The Interaction of Personality and Politics: Three Case Studies
Stimulating the Economy

 
Reforming Health Care

 
Upping the Ante in Afghanistan

 

The impact of presidential personality on governing in the
White House is one of the great puzzles of presidential politics. There
is no one better than Steve Wayne at helping us solve this puzzle and
achieve a better understanding of the Obama presidency

George C. Edwards III
Texas A & M University

This fine book goes a long way toward capturing the essence of the complex, elusive, and politically important Barack Obama.

Fred I. Greenstein
Princeton University

Stephen Wayne combines the rigor of a political scientist with
the insights of a psychologist to explain how President Obama’s
character intersects with politics to produce the policies of his
administration. Wayne explores the tensions between Obama’s ideals and
the reality of American politics as well as the fissures between his
transformational vision and his transactional style. If you want to know
what makes Obama tick, this book is a good place to start

James P. Pfiffner
George Mason University

An excellent introduction to the study of personality and politics, offering a comprehensive review of President Obama.

Mr James Bilsland
Department of Politics, Newcastle University
September 6, 2012

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