Empowering the White House
Governance under Nixon, Ford, and Carter
Karen M. Hult and Charles E. Walcott
On the surface the new president seems to inherit an empty house, Hugh Heclo, a recognized expert on American democratic institutions, has noted. In fact, he enters an office already shaped and crowded by other peoples desires. Empowering the White House examines how Richard Nixon entered that crowded Oval Office in 1969 yet managed to change it in a way that augmented the power of the presidency and continues to influence into the twenty-first century how his successors have governed.
Nixons White House is perhaps best remembered for the growth in the size of the staff, which operated under the supposed iron fist of H. R. Haldeman. But more important than size and management style to the character of the Nixon White House were the assigned tasks, complexity, and dynamics of the burgeoning staff. Faced with hostile majorities in Congress and executive branch careerists assumed to be committed to a Democratic agenda, Nixon sought to control his political fate by engaging more actively than earlier presidents in public relations and the mobilization of support. At the command and under the control of the Oval Office, the staff carried out assignments designed to fulfill Nixons aims.
“An authoritative, balanced, and nuanced analysis of the presidential institution of the 1970s.”
—Rhetoric & Public Affairs
“A study of major significance.”
—Perspectives on Political ScienceSee all reviews...
“This book quickly will become an indispensable reference for researchers trying to sort out who did what for which president in the 1970s. That so much fact is conveyed with so little pain is testament to the authors’ organizational and stylistic skills.”
—Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
“Theoretically informed and archivally rich, this important book provides a welcome and much anticipated follow-up to the authors’ previous award winning study.”
—John P. Burke, author of The Institutional Presidency
“Expands and strengthens the authors’ grand project analyzing change and variation in the White House office. . . . Indispensable for understanding the mature modern presidency.”
—Peri E. Arnold, author of Making the Managerial Presidency
“A gracefully written and essential study that sheds considerable light on the operations of the modern presidency.”
—Melvin Small, author of The Presidency of Richard Nixon
“An important contribution to our understanding of how the White House came to be what it is today.”
—James P. Pfiffner, author of The Strategic PresidencySee fewer reviews...
This theoretically informed and well-researched study explains how Nixon changed and expanded the institutionalized presidency and how that affected the Ford and Carter administrations. Nixon ushered in a new stage in the modern presidency by organizing and using his increasingly complex staff in new ways that have persisted beyond the 1970s to this day. To a greater degree than any predecessor, Nixon systematized outreach, legal advice, and policy formulation. His White House staffing, then, has come to be regarded as a standard model that influences incoming presidents regardless of party affiliation.
Leavening this organizational study are revealing accounts of how the Nixon, Ford, and Carter staffs operated behind the scenes in the West Wing. Anyone needing to know how the White House worked during those presidencies—or how it has worked since—will find this book invaluable.