Dr. James Hedtke, department chair for the history and political science department, has written and released his first scholarly work entitled “Lame Duck Presidents: Myth or Reality.” Combing the whole process for writing the book, it took Hedtke 10 years to gather his information for its release.
The book, Hedtke’s first, looks into the history of lame duck presidents in the United States. Hedtke also explores the concept of lame duck presidents and whether their power is impinged by the 22nd amendment, the amendment that restricts the president from running over two terms in office.
“I use eight empirical measurements to attempt to look at whether or not in the seventh and eighth year, whether or not the president loses power,” Hedtke explains. “The basic findings are that they don’t.”
The book includes a chapter on President Clinton; the last person considered a lame duck president. “It is interesting because in spite of the impeachment, he actually gains power.” Hedtke waited for Clinton to finish his second term before he finished his book, as he only had two modern presidents to with on, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. “I decided to hang on a little longer and let Clinton to finish up so I could see if he kind of went along with the trend and he did, so that was good news.”
Hedtke started the seven-chapter book in 1991, basing five of the chapters on his dissertation work, updating his work to look at new studies in his field and to include Clinton. The American presidency is on of Hedtke’s passions, therefore, his found work on lame duck presidents intriguing.
“I am always interested in people who say ‘this is the way it is,’ and then they don’t have any empirical proof. Since I was a little kid, every teacher I have ever had said lame duck presidents lose power in their seventh and eighth year in office.” Finally, in graduate school, Hedtke began to wonder whether or not this concept was true.
After doing research with a committee, Hedtke was shocked to find that there was no lame duck presidency. His committee had him check and re-check his information, but he would soon find that the lame duck president was siply a myth.
The topic of lame duck presidents has never really been covered before and Hedtke said he simply wanted to create a new niche of knowledge. “I always thought that’s what a dissertation was about. You actually did original research about an original subject. Nobody had ever worked in this area of the presidency because they all said it was to difficult to measure a lot of these components of power. It was a bit like Columbus.”
Since no one had ever tried to explore Hedtke’s concept, the finding of information was varied. Certain things were easy to come by, as they were in the public record. Others were hard to come by, like information from the state department or the executive branch. “The two things your found out was either they did not have time to be bother with you or they gave you information that was contradictory with other government information.” Hedtke called Pennsylvania Representa-tive Curt Weldon to cut through the “red tape.”
The rest of Hedtke’s information came from the internet and two students who worked in his office making telephone calls everyday to get information from the government. “Sometimes it’s the squeaky wheel who gets the grease.”
The book has been released and can be found in the school bookstore for $50. It is also available on the Internet from Amazon.com, but Hedtke says, “The best price is in the Cabrini bookstore.”