Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Communication and Information

Major Professor

John Haas

Committee Members

Kelly K. Halone, Michelle Violanti


Neustadt transformed academia’s fundamental conception of presidential leadership by arguing that extra-constitutional resources such as strategic persuasion, public prestige, and professional reputation are more critical to effective presidential governance than the simple application of the president’s constitutional powers. Professional reputation, which refers to political elites’ appraisals of the president as a leader, is a central yet scholastically understudied pillar of Neustadt’s theory. Neustadt argued that the “echoes” of a president’s professional reputation typically emerge from the newspaper columns of prominent political commentators (1990, p. 53-54). In essence, newspaper columns function as public forums where elites engage each other in interactive dialogue regarding their assessments of presidential leadership. The president’s professional reputation literally emerges from the give and take of those public discussions, thus the president’s reputation can be regarded as a socially constructed concept that emanates fundamentally from a communicative process (Denton & Hahn, 1986; Graber, 1981; Littlejohn, 2002). The purpose of this study is to explore through qualitative methods the opinion-editorial section of The New York Times in order to discover the thematic structure of President George W. Bush’s professional reputation as it relates to his stewardship of Iraq policy in the fall of 2002. In accordance to the tenets of Neustadt’s theory, this study identified “a dominant tone, a central tendency” in elite assessments of President Bush’s leadership on Iraq policy within the specified population of elite writings (Neustadt, 1990, p. 53).

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