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This week’s guest is Stephen F. Knott of the Naval War College, discussing his terrific new book, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal, just out from University Press of Kansas. Knott, one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of Alexander Hamilton, thinks the American presidency has slipped from the modest republican design of the Founders almost from the very beginning, starting with Thomas Jefferson. (“I have a full-blown case of Jefferson Derangement Syndrome,” Knott admits early in our conversation.)
The point is, presidents and presidential candidates have been promising the moon, the stars, and the planets for a very long time—it didn’t start with Obama and Trump!—and has contributed significantly to our polarized politics and dysfunctional government. The prospects for restoring the republican simplicity of the office are not very good, but Steve and Steve do their best to try out a couple of thoughts—including the thought experiment of why it would have been better for the country if the Clinton impeachment 20 years ago had succeeded in removing Clinton from office. But it was not to be!
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