Richard Neustadt, who died in 2003, was the most influential scholar of the American Presidency. He was a founder of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an adviser to Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton, and, in his book “Presidential Power” (1960), he wrote the most frequently quoted line in Presidential studies: “The power of the presidency is the power to persuade.” On August 31st of last year, President Barack Obama prepared to exercise that power. Frustrated with the slow recovery of the economy, he wanted to throw the weight of his office behind a major new stimulus package, the American Jobs Act. To this end, the White House announced that the President would deliver a televised speech to a joint session of Congress, and, as is customary, the President sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, asking him to schedule the address for September 7th. Boehner, the man Obama needed to persuade above all others, said no.
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