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presidential history



  • How Long Until We Hear "Madam President"?

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    In the early republic, the perception of ambition was a negative for a political candidate, especially for president. That norm mostly survives today in its application to women candidates. 


  • The Reputation of Presidents Takes a Hit in Their Second Term

    by Ronald L. Feinman

    The 2024 presidential campaign is fast approaching, with speculation rampant about whether Biden should seek a second term. Although his political fortunes have improved recently, the record of second-term presidents might give him pause. 


  • President as Change Agent: Breakers vs. Builders

    by Michael A. Genovese

    While Joe Biden has recently enjoyed policy successes that point toward a revival of the Democrats' political fortunes, his brand of change is handicapped by a lack of excitement. Will Americans ultimately choose a "disruptor" over an incrementalist? 



  • New Book Offers First Historians' Take on Trump Presidency

    Julian Zelizer is the editor of a collection of essays by an all-star lineup of historians taking stock of the Trump presidency. He discusses the book and the challenges of putting the recent, contested past in perspective. 


  • The Problem of Presidential Isolation

    by Michael A. Genovese

    Today, who can speak truth to the president’s power? And to whom can a president unburden himself in those moments of stress and self-doubt? From whom can the president expect direct and candid advice?



  • Watergate at 50: The Consequences of Impunity

    by Barry Sussman

    The Washington Post's City Editor at the time of the Watergate breakin launches a series of posts on the ongoing legacy of the scandal. This one discusses the legacy of elite impunity that resulted from the failure to prosecute Richard Nixon. 



  • Were the Founders a Bunch of Wealthy Oligarchs?

    by Willard Sterne Randall

    Charles Beard's progressive-era analysis of the founding portrayed the Founders as men of wealth pursuing their own interests; we know the reality was more complicated. 


  • George Washington and the Legacy of the Flexible Cabinet

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    The Presidential Cabinet, and its flexible relationship to the chief executive and the work of the executive branch, is the most important legacy of the Washington presidency. It has served some administrations well and been the ruin of others. 



  • Historian Harvey Kaye: Biden has Never Wanted to be FDR

    Entering office in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt was confident that mass social movements would build support for systemic political and economic change. Joe Biden does not seem to be drawing similar lessons from social protest today.