The insights into the Reagan presidency were fascinating, as well. Smith's descriptions of the relative lack of power Reagan had at so many different points during his presidency, even though today revisionist history paints him as an instinctive cowboy who floated around the White House putting out crisis after crisis with nothing more than Midwestern sensibility and a staunch belief in supply side economics.
Thinking about the real limits of executive power (even if in some sectors, such as national security, power is being concentrated more and more in the executive branch) as opposed to its perceived boundlessness won't stop being relevant. Even looking at something like President Obama's State of the Union speech. An unbelievable amount of focus was put on the SOTU by the media, with every commentator on every channel from CNN to Fox News to Telemundo to ESPN having to register an opinion on whether they thought it was a good speech or not, whether it accomplished what Obama needed it to accomplish. But the fact is, people never remember SOTU speeches, even though every year it gets a ton of hype, because tomorrow morning, things will go back to business as usual. Tomorrow morning, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill will re-draw their lines in the sand and continue playing chicken with the country's future, because even the most articulate and forceful of presidents, capable of reducing the Speaker of the House to tears (alright, so that's not actually much of an accomplishment), isn't going to change that.