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The American President: From Cincinnatus to Caesar

Thursday, March 2, 2017 2:01
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The great body of the nation has no real interest in party. — James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat, 1838

The American presidency offers many fascinating questions for historical exploration. And by historical exploration I do not mean the all-too-common form of pseudohistory that puts the presidential office at the center of our expe­rience as a people. That scenario in which presidential Lone Rangers—Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan—gallop in to save us from dark forces that threaten divinely ordained progress toward the universal triumph of “American democracy.” (The dark forces are often discovered to be ourselves. The American people must be saved by presidential heroes from their ignorant prejudices against such things as foreign wars, affirmative action, and unlimited immigration.)


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