Troy, Tevi 1967-
TROY, Tevi 1967-
Born 1967. Education: University of Texas, Ph.D.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 4501 Forbes Rd, Lanham, MD 20706.
Writer and U.S. government policymaker. White House Domestic Policy Council, special adviser. Worked at the Hudson Institute and American Enterprise Institute, as deputy assistant secretary for policy for the U.S. Department of Labor, and as policy director for former senator John Ashcroft.
Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians?, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., (Lanham, MD), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including New Republic, Wall Street Journal, and Reason.
The performance of the President of the United States is strongly influenced by the staff that surrounds him. With access to experts in areas such as economics, law, defense, and policy, the president's success depends largely on the accumulated wisdom, experience, and intellect of the staff that advises on the minutia of executive leadership. When the Executive Office of the President was created during Franklin D. Roosevelt's tenure, it was accompanied by the "unchallenged assertion" claiming that "the president needs help," wrote Roger Porter in Times Literary Supplement. In Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians?, White House policy advisor Tevi Troy "examines the role intellectuals play in American political campaigns, what they do once a president is in office, and presidents' efforts to make connections between their staffs and the intellectual community," Porter wrote.
"Troy believes it is essential for presidential candidates to align themselves with highly visible academics," wrote Michael Genovese in Library Journal. Because of this association with the highly educated and with people of letters, the president's proposals and decisions gain credibility, bolstering the image of the president and his policies. "As the stories of the past eight administrations show, the interrelation of intellectuals and presidents has developed into a crucial factor determining presidential success," Troy wrote. Intellectuals and the American Presidency offers "a comprehensive account of how modern presidents have used public intellectuals as political and policy advisers," wrote Colleen Shogan on the Institute for Human Studies Web site. Troy explains that "intellectuals make a difference in the White House because they influence how presidents are perceived publicly, both in the near and distant future," Shogan observed. "Troy suggests," remarked Porter, "that intellectuals have often played a crucial role in persuading voters that a candidate has ideas, weight, and a coherent message."
Beginning with John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign, Troy traces the evolution of intellectuals and their presence in presidential circles. The first true intellectual in the White House, Troy wrote, was historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, who served Kennedy's administration. "Troy uses Schlesinger to define what he means by an intellectual in the White House," wrote Matthew Robinson on the Claremont Institution Web site, which is "a person who has an independently established, well-respected reputation in the journalistic or scholarly community and who takes on the task of rallying intellectuals to the presidential standard."
To Troy, "the intellectual is not merely someone who combines in work and play the art of thinking," wrote Jackson Murphy on the Enter Stage Right Web site. "The intellectual is those things as well as someone harboring the characteristic of being in dire need of appreciation of his efforts." In that aspect, "Troy is less concerned with how intellectuals have fared in the White House than with how well or badly Presidents since 1960 have managed them," wrote James Nuechterlein in Commentary.
Some presidents made exceptionally astute use of intellectuals, Troy observed, noting that Bill Clinton made the most effective use of intellectuals since Kennedy. "Clinton courted the liberal intellectual establishment, and after twelve years of Republican administrations, they were hungry for attention," Shogan remarked. Clinton's influence with intellectuals was so strong that during the president's impeachment proceedings, "a group of 412 historians placed a full-page ad in the New York Times that defended Clinton and argued that the charges against him were not grounds for impeachment," Shogan wrote, unconcerned with any damage to their reputation or professional standing that such a stance might bring.
Other presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and George Bush, Sr., were unable to connect with their intellectual aides and use their knowledge and skills to best advantage, largely due to lack of solid ideas, "political drift," or the "lack of ideological focus in an administration," Robinson observed. Ronald Reagan "had a clear and coherent set of beliefs," Nuechterlein commented, but "he had no interest in persuading liberal intellectuals of the rightness of his ideas, and conservative thinkers needed no persuasion."
In return for the aura of credibility intellectuals offered, they received validation for their positions, acclaim for their credentials, and sometimes simple egoinflation. "The book pulls no punches and taps original sources to give readers a sense of how the egos are stroked and politics is conducted inside the White House," Robinson remarked. Kennedy's communications with Schlesinger included remarks such as: "I don't know if I mentioned to you before how impressed both Ted and I were with your memorandum on the future role of the Democratic Party. We are the wiser for reading it, and intend to use it further." Such compliments have consistently been paid to intellectuals in the White House. "From Troy's work it becomes clear such effusive language to critically minded intellectuals is common," Robinson continued. "And it works."
Troy himself is well aware of the treatment of intellectuals in American government. Possessing a Ph.D. in American civilization from the University of Texas, Troy has worked at such prominent think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute. He has served as policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Labor and, most recently, to the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Frank J. Coppa, writing in Perspectives on Political Science, called Intellectuals and the American Presidency "an extraordinary work." Porter noted that the book could have been improved with "insights that could be gained by interviews with the participants themselves, most of whom are accessible and willing to explain nuances and to separate fact from speculation." Still, critics such as Robinson found it to be "a wonderfully written insight into politics today." The "readable and compelling account" makes it clear that "presidents cannot operate in a vacuum" in the White House, Murphy remarked. Intellectuals and academics "can be useful in shaping and articulating ideas, reflecting criticism, shoring up support on the political base, or partisan hackery," Murphy observed. "No president is an island but intellectuals are no substitute for a president's personal political instinct."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Troy, Tevi, Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians?, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., (Lanham, MD), 2002.
Commentary, October, 2002, James Nuechterlein, "Brain Trust," review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians?, pp. 81-83.
Library Journal, April 15, 2002, Michael Genovese, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, p. 111.
Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2002, Frank J. Coppa, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, p. 250.
Public Interest, fall, 2003, Jason Bertsch, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, p. 120.
Reason, August, 2002, Sara Rimensnyder, "Potus and the Brain," interview with Tevi Troy, p. 17.
Times Literary Supplement, October 25, 2002, Roger Porter, "President's Professors," review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, pp. 7-8.
Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2002, Lee Bockhorn, "Shallow Opinions, Misty Visions," review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, p. D9.
Washington Post, May 2, 2002, Jonathan Yardley, "The Presidents' Brains," review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, p. C02.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 2002, Jeff Greenfield, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency, pp. 122-124.
Claremont Institute Web site,http://www.claremont.org/ (October 5, 2002), Matthew Robinson, "Brains and Brawn in the White House," review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency.
Enter Stage Right,http://www.enterstageright.com/ (June 10, 2002), Jackson Murphy, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency.
Institute for Human Studies,http://www.theihs.org/ (July 11, 2003), Colleen Shogan, review of Intellectuals and the American Presidency.
National Review Online,http://www.nationalreview.com/ (June 2, 2002) Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Egg-heads in the White House," interview with Tevi Troy.*