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By Jeffrey E. Cohen
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Extra info for Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy Making: The Publics and the Policies That Presidents Choose
Ineffective policies may actually destroy any chance for the president to acquire such long-term support. Moreover, short-term responsiveness may interfere with the president's other goals, such as implementing his policy vision and securing his historic reputation and legacy. Thus, while short-term benefits may accrue to presidents who are responsive to the public, there are also costs, in terms of potential future public support and control over public policy. The presidential 16 Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy-making calculus becomes one of weighing the benefits and costs of responsiveness and policy leadership.
Their future reputations and historical legacies are rooted in this performance but so is long-term public support. The support that presidents acquire through responsiveness may be eroded if those resulting policies fail. Presidents will be blamed for these performance failures, and linking the president to performance failure may make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to mobilize public support. Thus, to ensure that implemented policies are effective and not failures, presidents attempt to control the policy-making process.
Summary and Problem At some basic level, the president must show his responsiveness to the public. Through such demonstration the president can build popular support, which is an important political resource. But he is still held responsible for public policy and will aim to control the policy-making process to ensure the policy results he wants. Additionally, the motivation to develop a historical reputation impels the president to retain control over the direction and performance of public policy.