Who am I? Why am I here? These lines were uttered by Admiral James Stockdale in his opening statement in the 1992 Vice Presidential Debate--perhaps the only memorable lines from any candidate during that event. My inaugural post will try to explain who, why, and what this venture is.
Who? My name is Dave Cohen and I am currently an associate professor of political science and a fellow of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron. The study, observation, and teaching of American Politics is my professional life. My area of specialization is the American presidency but I also follow the U.S. Congress and Ohio politics closely. I am currently co-authoring a book on White House organization and staffing and am focusing on the White House chief of staff in particular. I also was recently named VP in charge of programs for the Akron Press Club--a volunteer position that I find rewarding but it does keep me quite busy.
Ever since I was a small child I have had an affinity for presidents and the presidency. That affinity has not diminished as I have gotten older and I am as interested in the workings of the presidential institution as I ever have been. Thus we get to the why.
Why? The purpose of this blog is actually quite selfish--to provide an outlet for myself to post my observations on the American presidency and politics in general. It is hoped of course that others will find it entertaining and informative.
What? The blog will not be partisan and will not spout propaganda. Instead, I will strive my hardest to look in a critical, but unbiased way, at the institutions and actors in the Beltway and elsewhere. Much of what I will observe will involve the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; however, I will not hesitate to turn my eyes eleswhere. I will also not write in "academese" and instead make my posts intelligible for everyone, not just those crustaceans who work and live in the Ivory Tower. Anyone who knows me can tell you that though I work in a university environment, I am not a typical academic. When it comes to politics, I am fascinated by the real world of brass knuckle politics as it is actually practiced, not the kind of theoretical politics that most academics purport to study and explain. I will be asking many of my colleagues who teach at different institutions to post from time-to-time. They will be asked to do so from a non-partisan point of view as well.
Why now? I thought the conclusion of the 2008 election would be a good time to create the blog. The transition to a new administration is an incredibly important yet undervalued period in our representative government. A transition done well can be an immense boost for the incoming president (e.g., the first 6 months of Bush 43); a transition executed poorly can cause all sorts of needless headaches for the new president (e.g., first year of Clinton). As I am affiliated with a group of academics dedicated to making the transition smoother for the incoming president (White House Transition Project), I thought starting the blog at the beginning of this process made all sorts of sense.
I probably won't be posting much until after the election as I am slammed with work because of the election. I will try to post somewhat regularly after that. I will also start building the links and RSS feeds as we go along. I do hope you enjoy the blog.