In This Review

Counting the Public In: Presidents, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy
Counting the Public In: Presidents, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy
By Douglas C. Foyle
Columbia University Press, 1999, 379 pp
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Foyle tackles the same subject as Kull and Destler but from the side of the policymakers. Two questions underpin his analysis: Do presidents think public opinion should guide foreign policy? Or do they at least work concern over public opinion into implementing their policies? Some presidents -- the author calls them "guardians" -- simply marched to their own drummer. For Foyle, this means Reagan, Truman (doubtful), and even Johnson (who should not be in this category at all). At the other extreme are obedient "delegates," namely Clinton. And in the middle is the "executor" model -- a president who believes public opinion is important in choosing a policy but not in fashioning its implementation. Carter alone falls in this curious category. The rest are "pragmatists"; Eisenhower's pragmatism is especially stressed in Foyle's case studies. Such labels seem artificial, like singling out the colors of a rainbow. But there is a spectrum of beliefs about the public role in policymaking, and Foyle helpfully draws attention to it.