Wrapping Up the Neustadt/Obama Point

Twice recently, here and here, I discussed whether the Obama Administration's health-care reform victory was likely to spill over into broader or longer-term legislative accomplishment. The obvious maxim to apply here (and I didn't resist!) is from the late Richard Neustadt, in Presidential Power, about success today improving the odds of success tomorrow. This might sound like nothing more than "momentum matters" or "them that has, gets," but it actually is more interesting and complicated in Neustadt's telling.

Just to round out the point, here are several recent nice references to Neustadt's premises and principles in Obama's age. Michael Nelson, of Rhodes College, has a Chronicle of Higher Education essay here;  and Matthew Dickinson, of Middlebury, has a blog entry here. Three  years ago Dickinson co-edited a book of analyses and appreciations of Neustadt by many of his students and colleagues, here. All of this material is highly recommended and is useful in thinking about the power of our current president.  Cover photo from the 2007 book:


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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