Celebrity in Chief; A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom.

Author:Call, Anna
Position:Book review

Kenneth T. Walsh; CELEBRITY IN CHIEF; Paradigm Publishers (Nonfiction: Political Science) 27.95 ISBN: 9781612057064

Byline: Anna Call

This history of presidential fame and how it has shaped American progress is relevant to the digital age and is a fascinating examination of the power of popularity.

Highlighting an increasing trend toward American leaders with a media presence, Celebrity in Chief examines sitting presidents in light of their personal appeal to the American people.

Examining the promise and pitfalls of presidential celebrity status, the book ultimately makes the point that a strong media and cultural presence represents a leadership resource for American heads of state. Several examples, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, illustrate the extra influence that culturally savvy presidents enjoy. However, the book makes it clear that celebrity can turn on a president, as when the media-saturated Bill Clinton unwisely answered a question about his underwear, and can even serve as a scant bandage for unpopular decisions. Barack Obama's example here is particularly fascinating, especially since the president, who has famously appeared on Buzzfeed and "Between Two Ferns," has enjoyed relatively low approval ratings despite his aggressive courting of the media.

Admirably, Celebrity in Chief avoids partaking in partisanship while still managing to examine the...

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