Executive orders and the limited power of the President

There’s a story about two-thirds of the way through Andrew Rudalevige’s new book, By Executive Order: Bureaucratic Management and the Limits of Presidential Power, that is so off-color that we all should thank the good editors at Princeton University Press for not enforcing any blue laws that remain on the books in New Jersey. I won’t ruin the story for those who haven’t read the book yet — it’s on page 212 if you want to skip ahead, but it involves Richard Nixon and a coyote.

You really should go out and buy the book.

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As the title of the…


A story of family, influence, and campaign promises

Walter Mondale — who died this week at age 93 — was many things in his long career: Senator, Ambassador, and Professor. He was also the brother to a leader of the National Education Association, and that may have sealed the deal for him being chosen as Jimmy Carter’s running mate in 1976.

Library of Congress

Mondale’s brother, Mort, was a long-time staffer at the National Education Association (NEA) — the nation’s leading union of teachers — and the two looked like twins. McCall’s reported that while stumping for his brother at a pub in 1984, Mort Mondale explained “No, I’m not running…


Phantoms of the Beleaguered Republic is a must

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When a group of scholars come together to pen a BIG book, they usually write a long and often plodding tome. Not so for Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and The Unitary Executive (Oxford University Press) by Stephen Skowronek, John A. Dearborn, and Desmond King. They’ve written a tight narrative on a big topic, but it’s a page-turner, and a quick read.

There’s much to love about this book, other than its brevity. At its core, Phantoms is part of a growing list of books with a first crack at the Trump legacy. …


New voting data shows a shift in support

Over the weekend, Jessica Grose of the New York Times reported on Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler — one of just 10 Republican members of Congress to vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump in February.

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This break from party orthodoxy is itself remarkable, as Herrera Beutler was first-elected in 2010 with the wave of conservatives Republican Tea Party candidates, but what I found equally interesting was Rep. Herrera Beutler’s long-term connection to a major faction of the Republican party: the homeschooling movement. The Times article explains:

Ms. Herrera Beutler’s parents, a white mother and a Mexican-American father, made politics part…


50-year legacy of cost benefit analysis

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Many have eulogized George Shultz — who died this weekend at age 100 — as a voice of moderation and diplomacy, a careful stateman who checked more extreme views in the Reagan White House. He surely was those things and had a distinguished career that spanned several wars and numerous presidents.

But it’s Shultz’s less well-known role in the decidedly immoderate federal move to centralize rulemaking review that is also important to reflect on today. That is because of the Biden administration’s recent move to upend and modernize regulatory review.

On January 20th, President Biden issued a memorandum to:



While others have withered, the institutions of homeschooling have flourished

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On the latest episode of the Ezra Klein podcast, he interviews Yuval Levin, the director of social, cultural and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The conversation centers on the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Levin is a conservative and a Republican, yet is deeply critical about the state of the party and Donald Trump.

In an important exchange Klein summarized on Friday in the The New York Times, Levin points to the failure of conservatives to start alternative institutions, favoring instead a burn-it-down, anti-institutional approach.

Yuval Levin: Creating alternatives to [mainstream institutions] is quite…


Ted Cruz, the Tea Party, and Presidential Transitions

In 2016, Senator Ted Cruz said on “Fox and Friends”: “Any transition is like drinking from a fire hose, You have to do an incredible amount of work in a short amount of time.” Cruz was right and would know. He served on George W. Bush’s presidential transition in 2000 as coordinator for the critically important transition of the Department of Justice and later worked as an appointee in the agency. Cruz saw first-hand how tenuous, overwhelming, and dangerous the transition of power is, and why every elected official should ease the process.

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But Cruz didn’t stop there. He continued…

Election 2020

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Tuesday, November 24, marks the long-awaited, official start to the Biden-Harris transition.

As is required by federal law, transition planning started long ago, despite the wrangling with Trump’s General Services Administration over the final ascertainment of the election outcome that frees federal funding and office space for the incoming administration. Since at least May of this year (and maybe even before that), Joe Biden’s close advisers have been figuring out what they would do — if elected — and who they would choose to staff the White House and cabinet.

They don’t do this alone.

Groups and experts vie to…

Presidential Transition

Each show you what’s going to happen and what to listen for over the next 11 weeks

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A lot is going to happen over the next 11 weeks as a new administration prepares to take over the White House. Though there are hundreds of books on campaigns and elections, there are many fewer on the presidential transition period. Here are four good ones to consider, two obvious and two somewhat less so.

If you read just one book about the presidential transition, do not read Michael Lewis’ New York Times best-seller, instead read Martha Joynt Kumar’s political history of the Obama-Biden transition in 2008–2009, Before the Oath. Nobody knows more about presidential transitions than Dr. …

Presidential Transition

Research suggests why they may

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In the US, elections occur all the time, but presidential transitions — real ones across parties — happen rarely. There’ve been just five since 1980, meaning we know a lot more about what it takes to run a successful campaign than what it means to run a successful transition.

Based on research I’ve done since 2008 and as a member of the White House Transition Project advisory board, I’ve learned several things about how a newly-elected president can do it right.

First, effective transitions depend on the outgoing administration preparing to leave office.

Congress mandated…

Heath Brown

Heath Brown , associate professor of public policy, City University of New York, host Co-Authored podcast, written for The Atlantic, American Prospect, The Hill

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