The American President: Power and Communication by Colin Seymour-Ure (auth.)

By Colin Seymour-Ure (auth.)

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Extra resources for The American President: Power and Communication

Sample text

For it is questionable whether the behaviour of the personal President can be separated from the official President in fact. Apparently personal attributes-diet, exercise, recreationmay all have a bearing on presidential moods and hence on official activities. t 3 ) Since Woodrow Wilson's illness this has been recognised by the White House in times of presidential incapacity. But incapacity should be distinguished from disease. Presidents often try to conceal disease, unless it is obvious, like F.

Except within his spheres of command, his ability to achieve results depends on persuasion- and hence on presentation. The general theme in what follows is that, while the President has great flexibility in when, what, how and to whom he communicates, his degree of control is limited. It is a lack of control both over the consequences- 14 The President and Communication 14 whether people will do what he wants- and over whether he is understood correctly in the first place. The latter difficulty is not simply a matter of getting the right media coverage.

The effects of this innocent secrecy, however, may be just the same as of the other. It is thus difficult for a president to avoid the appearance of deliberate concealment and deception even where none is intended. 'Unannounced presidential decisions based on unpublished information from undisclosed sources were at 14 The American President the heart of both Vietnam and Watergate', writes Theodore Sorensen. 32 They may equally lie at the heart of more justifiable ventures. The comment, none the less, is a powerful if ironic tribute to the contribution of secrecy to presidential power.

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