POLS 308: The American Chief Executive Syllabus

Northern Illinois University

DeKalb, IL 60115

(815) 753-1015

www.niu.edu, http://polisci.niu.edu



Course Title:  The American Chief Executive

Course Number: POLS 308, Section 1

Class Location: DuSable Building, Room 252

Semester: Fall, 2007


I. Faculty Information

            a. Instructor:  Geoff Rogal (nomad14005@comcast.net)

            b. Office Location: DuSable 476

            c. Office Hours:          Wednesday: 1:45-3:15 p.m.

Thursday: 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Also, By Appointment

            d. Mailbox Location: Zulauf 415, Outside of Departmental Office

e. Department Phone #: (815) 753-1015 (leave a message with Karen Schweitzer,                  Administrative Assistant, Political Science Department).


II. Course Identification:

            a.   Credit Hours: 3

            b.   Total Credit Hours: 3

            c.   Days and Hours Course Meets: Tuesday and Thursday: 11:00-12:15 pm.

            d.   Prerequisite:  At least sophomore standing or consent of department. A                               previous course in American politics (POLS 100, 150) is highly recommended.

            e.   Corequisite: None

            f.    Course Description:

Within this course, we will explore the philosophical and constitutional origins of the American Chief Executive and the evolution of the office to gain a greater understanding for the role the President occupies in modern American politics.  To this end, theoretical, historical, legal, institutional and psychological approaches will be used to examine the Presidency and those individuals who have served the office. Special attention will be given to the institutional Presidency and its relationship with Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the influence public opinion and the media have on the office.  Finally, the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Presidential leadership, ethics, and decision-making and their influences on public policy will be explored.






III. Textbooks/Reading List:

            a. Required

1. Brattebo, Douglas M. and Eloise F. Malone (Eds.). 2002. The Lanahan      

    Cases in Leadership, Ethics and Decision Making. Baltimore, MD:    

    Lanahan Publishers, Inc.


2. Edwards, George, C. and Stephen J. Wayne. 2006. Presidential  

    Leadership: Politics and Policy Making. Seventh Edition. Belmont,

    CA: Thomson Publishing Co.


3. Milkis, Sidney M. and Michael Nelson. 2008. The American   

    Presidency: Origins and Development. Fifth Edition. Washington, DC:  

    CQ Press.


4. Pfiffner, James P. 2008. The Modern Presidency. Fifth Edition.

    Belmont, CA: Thomson Publishing Co.


Additional handouts and required readings listed below may be accessed via web addresses, Blackboard or through NIU’s electronic library.  It is your responsibility to read these articles before attending class.


            b. Recommended

                        1. Brinkley, Alan and Davis Dyer. 2004. The American Presidency. Boston:                         Houghton Mifflin Co.


IV. Program/Course Goals or Major Purposes:

            a.   To think critically

            b.   To understand the origin, powers and structure of the Executive Branch.

            c.   To gain a better understanding of the selection, tenure, succession, and                                      leadership of the American chief executive in the policy, administrative, and   

                   legislative processes of American government.  

            d.   To understand the concept of separation of powers.

            e.   To better understand the United States Constitution.

            f.    To understand the role of the President in formulating and implementing the    

                  annual federal budget.

            g.   To investigate the influence special interest groups, the media and public                                  opinion have on the President.   

            h.   To understand the history and role of the federal bureaucracy in the American

                   political process.

            i.    To understand the relationship between the President, Congress and the

                  Supreme Court.

            j.    To gain a better understanding of Presidential War Powers.

            k.  To investigate the role Presidential leadership and decision making have on 

                  public policy formulation and implementation.



V. Classroom Policies/Procedures, i.e. The Rules of the Game

a. Any student who fails to complete the following assignments will not receive a       

satisfactory grade for this course.

            b. Withdrawal Policy:

A student who does not withdraw from the course by October 19, 2007 may receive a grade of ‘F', depending on course progress and\or course attendance, which will become a part of the student's permanent record.  Please note the withdraw date at www.courselistings.niu.edu

            c. Final Exam Dates:

                        Final Exam: Tuesday 12/11/07 from 10:00-11:50 a.m. in DuSable 252

            d. Turn off cell phones, pagers and Blackberries before the start of all classes. If                    you have a computer, please do not surf the web, work on other assignments or    

                chat during class. 

            e. Be considerate of your classmates.

f. Attendance Policy:

From past teaching experiences, I have amassed substantial empirical evidence suggesting a student who attends class regularly is more likely to perform at a higher level during course evaluations (examinations, papers, class participation) than a student who is frequently tardy or absent from scheduled classes. So, come to class! While attendance is not required, it is strongly recommended. You, or somebody else, are/is paying for this opportunity to gain knowledge—Take advantage of it!    


Once again, please attend class.  The examinations will consist of lecture materials, and information absorbed, comprehended and otherwise discerned from assigned readings.  However, I understand a class may be missed, skipped or “blown off” on occasion.  It is your responsibility to acquire the missed class material. Please, don’t—I repeat—do not ask me for lecture notes or missed materials. If a class is missed, ask a fellow student for the lecture notes. You might have to wash his\her car, but the reward of increased knowledge and understanding is worth it!!!


            g. Cheating, Plagiarism and Student Conduct:

                        If found cheating on an exam, the student(s) will receive a grade of zero for                       that exam.  If plagiarism occurs, the student(s) will also receive a                                               zero for that paper, activity or project.  Northern Illinois permits the                                     instructor to withdraw the student(s) from the course if found plagiarizing                               or cheating on an assignment, paper or examination.  I will not hesitate in                           doing so in the aforementioned cases. Each student is responsible for                                  adhering to the code of Student Conduct as stated in the NIU Undergraduate              Student Catalogue.






VI. Grading Policies/Procedures:

a.       There will be two (2) examinations: one (1) midterm examination and one (1) final examination. Each examination will be worth 100 points. You will be tested on the required readings from the textbooks, websites and handouts, as well as the information presented during class lectures. The examinations will consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer and essay questions. The final examination will not be cumulative.


b.      Additionally, you will be required to complete a research paper. The research paper will explore some aspect of the George W. Bush Presidency. Your grade will be determined by your ability to compose a well-written, legible, grammatically correct research paper (minimum 7 pages in length with 5 cited scholarly sources, double-spaced, spell-checked and typed). The paper will be evaluated according to the quality (support for the thesis, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, organization) of the information presented. The expectations for the paper will be discussed in detail during the second week of class.  The final paper will be due no later than November 20, 2007. No exceptions! However, papers may be submitted prior to 11/20/07. The research paper will be worth 80 points.


However, to assure you are actively researching your chosen paper topic, I will have you email me an abstract by October 4, 2007 stating your thesis and providing an annotated bibliography including 4 sources (basically, cite each source and provide 3-4 sentences explaining why the book or journal article is relevant to your research topic).  This will be worth 20 points.


c.       The remaining portion of your final grade will be based upon your contributions during class. Specifically, you will be required to prepare 3 discussion questions along with the appropriate answers for the assigned week’s readings. Each student will be assigned two groups (two groups per week: A or B) of readings and expected to submit (to me) 3 questions based upon the assigned readings and answers to these questions.  Each week’s questions will be worth 50 points. So, 100 points total. The groups will be chosen by lot (i.e. drawing numbers from a hat) during the second class.


Submissions should include THREE TYPED QUESTIONS and THREE TYPED ANSWERS to the questions. The answers do not have to be elaborate (one or two paragraphs will suffice).  I will evaluate the assignment based upon  the quality of the questions and the answers. The three typed, double-spaced questions and the corresponding answers should (will) be emailed to me at nomad14005@comcast.net, by 12:00 am Tuesday (a.k.a. Monday’s midnight or the Monday before Tuesday’s class).  If I don’t have three questions and answers once I arise from my much needed slumber early Tuesday morn’, the student will receive a “0”. Finally, bring a copy of your questions and answers to the week’s classes (both Tuesday and Thursday) for reference, as I will occasionally need your assistance when analyzing the readings.


d.      The final grade will be based upon your performance on and successful completion of the aforementioned examinations, activities and research paper.


e.   The individual assignments will comprise the following percentages of your   

      final grade:


                  Midterm Examination :           100 points       (25%)

                  Final Examination:                  100 points       (25%)

                  Research Paper Abstract           20 points       (05%)

                  Research Paper:                         80 points       (20%)

                  Discussion Questions #1:          50 points       (12.5%)

                  Discussion Questions #2:          50 points       (12.5%)

                                                      Total:   400 points       100%


e.   The grading scale will be as follows:

                                    360-400 points =A

                                    320-359 points =B

                                    280-319 points =C

                                    240-279 points =D

                                    239 or below     =F     


            d.    No extra credit will be awarded.

e.    No late papers will be accepted.

f.    Make-up exams and incompletes will be allowed only with the PRIOR   

      approval of the instructor. 


VII. Students With Disabilities:

NIU abides by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that mandates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please tell me early in the semester so I can help you attain the needed assistance.  You will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities.  The CAAR office is located on the 4th Floor of the University Health Services Building (telephone #: 753-1303). 


VIII.   Student Athletes

            Student athletes should submit the official NIU Student-Athlete Academic Support          Services (SAASS) form to me as soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in            unsatisfactory reports when academic progress is requested from the NIU         Associate Director of Athletics.





IX. Course Schedule/Calendar:

 Fall 2007 Semester Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments

(Assigned Readings and Examinations May Change At the Discretion of Instructor. If so, I will inform the class prior to the change(s).  However, the due date for Discussion Questions and Answers will not change)


Week/Date:         Group          Required Readings


Part I: The Origins and Evolution of the Presidency


First Week                              

August 28:                              Introduction, distribute syllabi and other necessary stuff


August 30:                              Lecture: Approaches to Studying the Presidency

                                                Readings Edwards and Wayne, Chapter 1, pp. 13-27


Second Week                                     

September 4                            Lecture: The Constitutional Convention and Creating                                                           the Presidency

                                                Reading: Milkis, Chapter 1, pp. 1-23 and

                                                                 Pfiffner, Chapter 1, pp. 1-18

                                                                 Federalist Papers #s 47-48 can be accessed via:


http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed47.html (Paragraphs 1-3)




September 6                            Readings: Milkis, Chapter 2, pp. 26-64 and

                                                                  Brattebo, Chapter 2, pp. 17-27


Third Week                             (Group #1 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):   


September 11      A                 Lecture: The Pre-modern Presidency and Sources of                                                             Constitutional Ambiguities     

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 3, pp. 68-93 and the

                                                                   Pacificus/Helvidius Debates, Access from the                                                                        website:



September 13      B                 Readings: Milkis, Chapter 4, pp. 97-114 and

                                                                   Chapter 16, pp. 451-475 





Fourth Week                           (Group # 2 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


September 18      A                 Lecture: Jacksonian Democracy

                                                (Distribute handout: Elite versus Popular Democracy)

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 5, pp. 121-147 and

                                                                   Brattebo, Chapter 4, pp. 34-44


September 20      B                 Lecture: Expanding Presidential Power

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 6, pp. 151-170 and Chapter 7,                                                      pp. 173-180 (Reaction against Presidential Power) 


Fifth Week                              (Group #3 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


September 25     A                  Lecture: The Rise of Executive Power, the Progressives

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 8, pp. 208-232 and Chapter 9,                                                      pp. 237-255


September 27     B                  Lecture: The End of the Progressive Era

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter10, pp. 258-277     


                                         Part II: The Modern Presidency


Sixth Week                             Research Paper Abstract due by the beginning  of class!


                                                (Group #4 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


October 2        A                     Lecture: The Consolidation of Executive Power

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 11, pp. 280-317 and

                                                                 Brattebo, Chapter 8, pp. 84-94                                         

October 4        B                     Lecture: The Executive Office of the President

                                                Readings: Brattebo, Chapter 9, pp. 95-106 and

                                                                  Edwards, Chapter 6, pp. 193-219


Part III: The President and the Public


Seventh Week                         (Group #5 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


October 9        A                     Lecture: Selecting the President

                                                (Distribute Handout: The Nomination Process)

                                                Readings: Edwards, Chapter 2, pp. 28-58 and

                                                                  Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 19-25


October 11      B                     Lecture: Public Opinion and Polling

                                                Readings: Edwards, Chapter 4, pp. 100-153


Eighth Week


October 16                              Review for the Midterm Examination


October 18                              Midterm Examination


Ninth Week                             (Group #6 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


October 23      A                     Lecture: The Presidential Election

                                                (Distribute Handout: The Electoral College)

                                                Readings: Edwards, Chapter 3, pp. 59-99 and

                                                                Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 31-35


October 25      B                     Lecture: The President and the Media

                                                Readings: Pfiffner, Chapter 2, pp. 36-45 and

                                                                  Edwards, Chapter 5, pp. 154-192            


      Part IV: Institutional Checks on the Executive Branch


Tenth Week                             (Group #7 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


October 30      A                     Lecture: The President and Congress

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 10, pp. 150-197


November 1    B                     Lecture: The President and the Judiciary

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 11 pp. 378-404


Eleventh Week                        (Group #8 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


November 6    A                     Lecture: The Federal Bureaucracy    

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 9, pp. 286-324


November 8    B                     Lecture: The Federal Budget

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 13, pp. 442-471






Part V: Executive Leadership


Twelfth Week                         (Group #9 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


November 13      A                 Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Domestic Policy

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 12, pp. 409-438


November 15      B                 Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Foreign Policy

                                                Reading: Edwards, Chapter 14, pp. 475-494


Thirteenth Week


November 20                          Research Paper Due (Final Draft)!!!!!!!!

                                                Lecture: The Presidency of Ronald Reagan

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 12, pp. 323-352 and Chapter                                                        13, pp. 366-384


November 22                          Thanksgiving Vacation: No class!!!!


Fourteenth Week                    (Group #10 Discussion Questions and Answers due

                                                for the following readings):


November 27      A                 Lecture: Case Studies in Presidential Leadership

                                                Reading: Pfiffner, Chapter 7, pp. 217-248


November 29      B                 Lecture: Presidential Abuse of Power

                                                Readings: Pfiffner, Chapter 8, pp. 255-284 and

                                                                  Brattebo, Chapter 11, pp. 128-139


Fifteenth Week

December 4                             Lecture: The Presidency of George W. Bush and Beyond

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 14 and Chapter 15, pp. 398-447

                                                Concluding Remarks


December 6                             Review for Final Examination


Sixteenth Week                       Final Exam Week


12/11/07                                  Final Exam:           

                                      Special Time: 10:00-11:50 a.m.         in DuSable 252