The Presidency

'The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency'

Watch PrezFest 2019

Prezfest logo - overlaid on a collage of photos of past presidents

The Presidential Ideas Festival was held May 21-23, 2019.

About this video

September 15, 2020

John Dickerson

Hosted by William Antholis

Join renowned journalist John Dickerson for a conversation about his new book, The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency, moderated by Miller Center Director Bill Antholis. In this eye-opening book, Dickerson writes about presidents in history such as Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Eisenhower, and in contemporary times—LBJ, Reagan, Bush, Obama, and Trump—to show how a complex job has been done and why we need to reevaluate what we expect from them once they are in office. What qualities make for a good president? Who did it well? Why did Bill Clinton call the White House “the crown jewel in the American penal system”? The presidency is a job of surprises with high stakes, requiring vision, management skill, and an even temperament. Ultimately, in order to evaluate candidates properly for the job, we need to adjust our expectations, and be more realistic about the goals, the requirements, and the limitations of the office. As Dickerson writes, “Americans need their president to succeed, but the presidency is set up for failure. It doesn’t have to be.”