Keeping an Eye on the Oval Office
Every day, Bruce Buchanan brings people closer to the President of the United States.
Reporters, policy analysts and students regularly call upon the government scholar for his insights into the American presidency—and for his unique ability to make sense of the ever-changing political landscape.
The nationally recognized expert in presidential and american politics focuses on presidential accountability, a system of punishments and rewards that keeps the chief executive on the straight and narrow.
“Punishments such as impeachment are intended to discourage abuses of power such as the Watergate or Iran-Contra scandals,” Buchanan explains. “Rewards such as re-election are designed to encourage good performance.
“But the system isn’t perfect. Sometimes, threats of punishment do not deter abuses of power and re-election does not reflect the country’s satisfaction with a president’s performance. Instead, voters may select a president based on party loyalty or the fear of the unknown.”
To improve the commander-in-chief’s accountability to the people, Buchanan calls for more civic participation—not more institutional checks and balances.
“The surest way to ensure accountability is through a better, closer relationship between the president and the American people,” Buchanan says. “This requires people to choose their presidents carefully and then watch them like hawks every day that they’re in office.”
Interested in learning more about presidential accountability and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s relationship with Mark Felt, the source known as Deep Throat? Visit the Harry Ransom Center online to listen to Bruce Buchanan’s interview with Woodward and Bernstein.