It's really getting to be crunch time in studying for exams (only 9 days until my the first one)! So this weekend, I needed to buckle down and try to finish some of the readings I hadn't yet gotten to.
Last Monday, I started reading "Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use of Information and Advice," which talks about the various psychological difficulties for individuals and small groups when making decisions in conditions of uncertainty. It also goes into detail about various types of organizational schemes past presidents have used to organize their staff and advisers. I finished that one on Saturday.
Then, during most of Saturday and Sunday, I read "Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan." It's central thesis is that the president's power comes entirely from his ability to persuade those around him to do what he wants - not just from any constitutional powers he's given. This power to persuade depends in part on those constitutional powers, but also on his professional reputation and his public prestige. He argues that presidents need to think about how each decision they make will affect their own personal power. Finished that one just after lunch today.
Now I've moved on to "Presidential Leadership in Political Time: Reprise and Reappraisal," and I'm only on page 3, so I don't know too much about this one yet. From the introduction, it seems to be based on the idea that there are different 'types' of presidents that tend to recur throughout history.
During the week, I plan to turn in my final papers (last bit of work for classes!) on Monday and Tuesday. But my focus is going to be on answering practice questions and trying to build up some confidence and experience in writing the types of essays that will be on the comprehensive exams. I'll also be trying to do a bit more catch-up reading, and I do still intend to work and have (a little) fun.
Also, my mom is coming to DC tomorrow! She's attending a conference outside the city, so I may not see her until Thursday, but still, very cool!