Washington, Lincoln and FDR are revered as leaders who helped shape the course of history. They are often referred to as “great” presidents. But is it possible to have a great president today? And is greatness a quality that Americans even want in their chief executive?
Aaron David Miller examines the history of the U.S. presidency to explore those questions in his book, The End of Greatness. In the book, Dr. Miller makes the case that greatness as a presidential virtue is largely overrated – and that it occurs too infrequently to be relevant to current politics.
We selected The End of Greatness for this program prior to the November general election, not knowing who would win the presidency, or what the national mood would be. As President Obama’s eight years in office come to an end, and Donald Trump is sworn in as the next president, Dr. Miller’s book offers a thoughtful perspective on how the concept of greatness plays out at the highest level of government.
Dr. Miller is vice president for New Initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. For two decades, he served as an adviser to Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State. His pieces on the presidency have appeared in many national publications and he appears regularly on CNN, NPR, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, the BBC, and other major media outlets.