The Reactive American Presidency and its Perils

Upcoming Events Login

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 20164:00PM - 6:00PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
+ Register for this Event Print this Event Bookmark this Event


The American presidency is the most powerful political office in the world, and its power continuously grows in the public imagination. Surprisingly, most contemporary presidents have found themselves severely constrained in their ability to pursue their chosen agendas for domestic and foreign policy change. This lecture will explain why, focusing on the nature of government bureaucracy, the range of American challenges and commitments, and the development of the modern media. The constraints on the presidency have turned this powerful office into an essentially reactive institution that is more tactical than strategic, and therefore unlikely to fulfill major promises. The reactive presidency is, therefore, a disappointing presidency. The lecture will close with some reflections on how Americans can improve presidential leadership in future years. Reforms must center on the institution more than the particular occupant of the office.


Jeremi Suri
Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, University of Texas


Please note that events posted on this website are considered to be public events – unless otherwise stated – and you are choosing to enter a space where your image and/or voice may be captured as part of event proceedings that may be made public as part of a broadcast, webcast, or publication (online and in print). We make every effort to ensure your personal information is kept and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If you have any questions please get in touch with our office at or 416-946-8900.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.