Richard E. Neustadt’s book Presidential Power and the Modern President is designed to teach a select audience about the power of the President and ultimately its formulas can appraise the personal performance of a President. Johnpoll and Loss write, “The audience of Presidential Power includes presidents and future presidents, their assistants, their friends, journalists and academics concerned with presidential leadership”. What Neustadt wished to inform this elite body of leaders is that “presidential power is the power to persuade”. This thesis is often noted in reviews about Neustadt’s book, yet there is a foundational thesis that supports this more ostensible one. That is that a President’s power is only as good as it lasts and the protection of that power and the assurance of its longevity requires a dedicated wisdom on the part of the President to continue to “look toward tomorrow from today”.
The President must influence people, therefore he must take care to establish and preserve his influence. Neustadt’s discussion of this preservation of influence takes into account both the formal powers of the President as well as the personal powers. The President is both influenced by and must answer to a complex body that includes the executives that are part of the “presidency;” Congress; Presidential partisans; American public; and from all those President watchers abroad. Of course, no President has the power to answer squarely to each and every demand that is placed upon him by various sources. He cannot expect committed loyalty from all quarters as in every case, the parties have other commitments and loyalties that draw them away from the President. Thus, the very people surrounding the President and the legislators, judges, foreign emissaries, and all other public and private enterprises, are not in total service to the President nor is he in total service to them. It is up to the President, then, to get people to do what he wants them to do; hence, to persuade them to his way of thinking and doing. This is the President’s power.