Teacher is right and Fox Fox as well.
In fact, the "lightning rod" is a presidential institution in the United States, somebody that is a lightning rod is to take the blame, to divert criticism from somebody else (like
the Franklin lightning rod itself diverted to the ground, the eletricity that would hit buildings.
So, in some ways one is a "boi de piranha" to presidency, but that would not necessarily be bad to him/her.
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Presidential Lightning Rods: The Politics of Blame Avoidance. University Press of Kansas, 1994.
Description: H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon's former chief of staff, is said to have boasted: "Every president needs a son of a bitch, and I'm Nixon's. I'm his buffer and I'm his bastard. I get done what he wants done and I take the head instead of him."
Richard Ellis explores the widely discussed but poorly understood phenomenon of presidential "lightning rods" - cabinet officials who "take the heat" instead of their bosses. Whether by intent or circumstance, these officials divert criticism and blame away from their presidents. The phenomenon is so common that it's assumed to be an essential item in every president's managerial toolbox. But, Ellis argues, such assumptions can oversimplify our understanding of this tool.
Ellis advises against indiscriminate use of the lightning rod metaphor. Such labeling can hide as much as it reveals about presidential administration and policymaking at the cabinet level. The metaphor often misleads by suggesting strategic intent on the president's part while obscuring the calculations and objections of presidential adversaries and the lightning rods themselves.
Published by University Press of Kansas, 1994.
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46. Richard J. Ellis
Presidential Lightning Rods: The Politics of Blame Avoidance
* Presidents often position members of their administration to take blame for unpopular policies.
Pros and Cons of Lightning Rods:
Good rationales exist supporting and opposing the use of lightning rods to deflect blame; each position, though, holds certain risks
In support of lightning rods:
-- lightning rods serve important goals of minimizing societal conflict and maintaining public support for authority
-- because presidents serve a fixed term, it is necessary for them to avoid being discredited by daily political battles
-- The risk of utilizing lightning rods is that a president can retreat too far into the background
Against lightning rods:
-- presidents benefit by taking responsibility themselves
-- supporters of party government oppose the use of lightning rods as just another way politicians manipulate the system and avoid accountability
-- The risk of leading without lightning rods is greater polarization as presidents, closely associated with specific policies, become sources of division and argument
Ellis wants to outline "conditions under which a president can successfully deflect blame onto subordinates" :
* When presidents are unconcerned about an initiative's outcome, "blame avoidance may be a fitting strategy".
* When presidents feel strongly about a program or idea, they will probably need to use their prestige directly, without hiding behind others.
Which of the following demonstrates use of a "Presidential lightning rod", as explained by Richard J. Ellis?
a) the President blames Congress for stalling passage of a bill.
b) the President, in a major speech, takes responsibility for a failed military action.
[x] c) the President fires his chief advisor after a new tax proposal fails in Congress.
d) the President resigns his office after being caught in a scandal.