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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

Presidents and the Media

Jeffrey E. Cohen Ph.D. - Professor of Political Science at Fordham University
Friday October 5, 2012
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

One of the most confusing relationships in U.S. politics is between Presidents and the media. It’s confusing most of all because “the media” keeps changing. There are vestiges of a Washington/New York establishment, but not of the Kennedy-era world of Presidents cultivating individual reporters. The news cycle is now a vortex; media channels have fragmented with new technology; the presidency has new ability to try to “narrowcast” messages; but there is also a lot more competition for attention than in JFK’s time.

So Presidents have to act differently to use the media as a conduit to persuade elites and the public. But at the same time, it’s not at all clear that changes have made the media a more constructive part of political representation.

Lots of people have ideas about the changing relationship, but Jeff Cohen has done leading research, including The Presidency in an Era of 24-Hour News (2008: Princeton University Press) and Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age (2010, Cambridge University Press).

We will gather to discuss this basic aspect of U.S. politics – and, I suspect, how it is playing out in the current campaign.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest...

Jeffrey E. Cohen received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1979. After teaching at, among other institutions, the Universities of Alabama, Illinois, and Kansas, he joined the Fordham faculty in 1997. This June, he escaped from a term as Department Chair. Professor Cohen has published extensively in the major political science journals, including the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics. His books include Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy (1997, University of Michigan Press), which won the 1998 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association; The Presidency in an Era of 24 Hour News (2008, Princeton University Press); and Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age (2010, Cambridge University Press), which was awarded the Goldsmith Book Prize from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Policy of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His newest book is The President’s Legislative Policy Agenda, 1789-2002, to be published in October by Cambridge University Press. Professor Cohen earned his B.A. from CWRU in 1973.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library..

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

October 12: The Future of Primary Care. With George Kikano MD, Chair, Department of Family Medicine.

October 19: Biblical Rhetoric in the 2012 Elections.
With Timothy K. Beal, Florence Harkness Professor of Religion.***Special Location: Mather House 100***

October 26: Special Event in Memory of Alec Lamis – “Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Permanent Campaign.”
With Frances E. Lee, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland ***Special Location: Wolstein Medical Research Building auditorium, first floor, 2103 Cornell Road. Lunch and Mama Jo’s pies provided.***

November 2: Political Science Department Pre-Election Forecasts.
With Justin Buchler, Associate Professor of Political Science, and colleagues.

November 9: What Just Happened? Open discussion about the election results,
with Joe White, Chair, Department of Political Science.

November 16: Learning from Mad Cows.
With Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, Professor and Director, Division of Neuropathology and Director, National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center.

November 23: No Session - Thanksgiving Break

November 30: The Medium is the Message: What Happens When Universities Digitize Course Evaluations.
With Timothy J. Fogarty, Professor of Accountancy.

December 7: The “Chicago Boys” Without Pinochet: Privatization and Protest in Chile.
With Diane Haughney, Ph.D.
October 1, 2012

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Upcoming Events

The Presidency in a Partisan Era

A Discussion With: Jeffrey E. Cohen, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, Thursday October 4, 2012, 4:30-6 p.m., Clark Hall, Room 309, Case Western Reserve University, 11130 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies at Case Western Reserve University.

When an incumbent is running, presidential elections are primarily – normally – referenda on the incumbent’s performance. Knowing this, the logical incentive for the out-party is to try to ensure that the incumbent president fails. Some observers believe congressional Republicans and their allies outside Congress have followed this logic over the past four years.

Yet discussions of this pattern often treat it with surprise – as if partisanship in the past was not so extreme. Republicans would reply that the charge itself is extreme partisanship. Either way, there is a sense that partisan conflict has burst some bounds. If so, what does that tell us about what Presidents can accomplish? Would the answer be the same for a President Romney as for President Obama?

The Center for Policy Studies and the Department of Political Science are very pleased to welcome one of the nation’s leading scholars of the Presidency to discuss one of the most basic issues about its future. There is good reason to believe the U.S. has a new party system. How can the Presidency fit into it, with what consequences?

Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Permanent Campaign

A Discussion in Honor and Memory of Professor Alexander P. Lamis Featuring: Frances E. Lee, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland, Thursday October 26, 2012, 12:30 p.m., Wolstein Medical Research Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Center for Policy Studies at Case Western Reserve University.

Much of the discussion of party alignments in the past claimed either that one party was dominant (such as the Republicans after 1896, or Democrats after 1932) or that voters were becoming less aligned with either party (supposedly in the 1970s). But the current party cleavage is different. Voters and interest groups are not “dealigned” at all. Most are closely tied to one or the other party. But the cleavages are quite severe – the parties have very different policy positions – and the balance is very close. That greatly raises the stakes in each election, and so may add to the tone of extremism and “winner take all” refusal to compromise that many believe characterizes Congress today.

Professor Lee is one of the leading scholars of parties in Congress, a fellow-alum of Vanderbilt and a personal friend of Alec Lamis from her time in the political science department at CWRU. So she is both a leading expert who would be a great visitor to campus in her own right, and a very appropriate person to honor our late colleague by discussing the field about which he cared so much.

October 2012








































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