1. Most Americans in the 1930s and 1940s did not know that President
Franklin Roosevelt was severely crippled from polio and had to use a
wheelchair, just as many in the 1960s did not know that John F. Kennedy
had extramarital affairs while in the White House. The media at the time
censored itself due to respect for the office and the man. Which do you think
is better: not knowing very much or knowing a lot about the personal lives
of the presidents? Does what goes on in their personal lives affect their ability to govern?
2. Are the responsibilities of the most powerful leader in the world, the
American president, too large a job for one person? Why has the American
presidency grown so large? Are there any powers you think should be taken
away from the president?
3. Presidents have expressed, delegated, and inherent sources of power. Which of the three do you think most accounts for the powers of the presidency?
4. President Harry Truman often said that the presidency of the United States is “the most powerful office in the history of the world.” But Richard Neustadt, a leading presidential scholar and certainly the scholar who knew Harry Truman best, characterized Truman’s presidential power, and that of all his successors, as “the power to persuade.” The Truman characterization and the Neustadt characterization appear to be miles apart. Which views seems more accurate?