Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age

Martin Johnson
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Spring 2011
Academy of Political Science
This ambitious book focuses on presidential activities in the contemporary political environment that Jeffrey Cohen characterizes as marked by polarized political parties in Congress and fragmented mass media. Building on his own work (for example, the recent The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News) and the contextual theory that Samuel Kernell develops in the classic Going Public, Cohen connects presidential behavior to the organization of Congress and the mass media. As the shift from congressional institutional pluralism(which Cohen identifies as prevailing 1953–1969 [p. 43]) to individual pluralism (1970–1988) helps explain presidentsʼ increased emphasis on public activities covered by national media, so more-recent changes in political context have affected presidentsʼ public behavior. Cohen argues that congressional polarization and media fragmentation (1989–present) help explain recent presidential efforts to more narrowly target constituencies via interest groups and local media. As an example of this tactical shift, Cohen notes President George W. Bushʼs schedule of domestic travel to circumvent his “national Pooh-Bahs” (p. 2) and build support for legislative initiatives.
Political Geography
United States, China, Israel, Soviet Union, Egypt