The premise behind this book is that policy making provides a useful perspective for studying the presidency, perhaps the most important and least understood policy-making institution in the United States. The eleven essays focus on diverse aspects of presidential policy making, providing insights on the presidency and its relationship to other policy-making actors and institutions. Major topics addressed include the environment of presidential policy making and the constraints it places on the chief executive; relationships with those outside the executive branch that are central to presidential policy making; attempts to lead the public and Congress; presidential decision making; and administration or implementation of policies in the executive branch, a topic that has received limited attention in the literature on the presidency.
Most valuable are several essays that contrast different presidents' roles in recurring, nonidiosyncratic policy areas such as the budget process and macroeconomic policy. Straightforward explanatory frameworks and interesting historical material from postwar administrations makes these selections potential additions to syllabi on national policy-making.