Guide to the Presidency



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Presidency Assignment



Instructions: Display your understanding of the Executive Branch and Politics using an outline or graphic organizers.
1. Who Can Become President?

2. The Process of Becoming President

3. The Many Roles of the President

4. The President as Party Chief and Superpolitician

5. Special Uses of Presidential Power

6. Abuses of Executive Power and Impeachment

7. The Executive Organization

8. The Vice Presidency

9. Key Terms

Modern Presidency

PROFILE every president from FDR to Obama
-Background (education, family, occupations

-Term(s) of office

-Key Cabinet Positions

-Relationship with Congress (History, Stalemate, Contentious,)

-Relationship with Media (Controversies, Positive Aspects, etc.)

-Spirit of the Times (Major political events/situations)

-Political Party

-Leadership Style

-Controversial appointees

-Domestic Policy

-Foreign Policy

-History’s View & Legacy


LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After students have read and studied this chapter, they should be able to:


  • Identify and explain the roles of the president (including head of state, chief executive, commander in chief, chief diplomat, chief legislator, and chief of party).

  • Identify and explain the types of presidential powers:

    • Constitutional powers.

    • Statutory powers.

    • Express powers.

    • Inherent powers.

  • Explain impeachment, differentiate it from conviction, and give historical examples of the process.

  • Describe the organization of the executive branch:

    • The cabinet.

    • The Executive Office of the President.

    • The White House Office.

    • The Office of Management and Budget.

    • The National Security Council.

  • Discuss the evolving role for the vice president as an advisor and successor to the president.

  • Describe the Twenty-fifth Amendment and discuss potential problems associated with it.

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

How has the presidency evolved from the time of George Washington to the time of George W. Bush?

When the president travels to other countries, he is greeted in a dual capacity: leader of government and chief of state. How does this affect the president?

Did the founding fathers think of the president as chief legislator? Besides the State of the Union message and the veto, what legislative power was granted to the president?

Who develops policy within the executive branch?

What has happened to the power of the presidency in this century? How did the New Deal impact the presidency? How has the role of government changed with the role of the president? If the president has gained power, which branch has lost power? How has Congress tried to protect the balance of power?

Consider the situations in which impeachment has been employed. Ask your students whether they would have voted to impeach Andrew Johnson for choosing to violate an act of Congress that was clearly unconstitutional. Once you’ve made it clear that Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, ask your students whether they would have impeached Clinton for the affair with Monica Lewinsky. Use this as a jumping off point for what they view as an impeachable offense. Finally, consider whether they believe that George W. Bush committed impeachable offenses in deceiving the American people on the necessity of war with Iraq, in so ineffectively planning and executing this war, and finally, in choosing to ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by authorizing the National Security Agency to engage in warrantless surveillance of American citizens who are suspected of communicating with terrorist suspects.

Consider the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Could this amendment be abused? Under what circumstances?
BEYOND THE BOOK

Many supporters of Al Gore were outraged by result of the 2000 elections. Most of the protest, however, came as a result of disputed votes in Florida, which determined the outcome of the election in the Electoral College. In spite of the fact that Gore won the popular vote, there was relative acceptance of the role the Electoral College plays in electing the president. Changing or abolishing the Electoral College would be very difficult. An amendment to the Constitution would have to be proposed by Congress and would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This would require overwhelming support in Congress and from state legislatures, many of which represent smaller states that might lose power as a result of such a move.

If no vice presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the Senate elects the vice president. The last time this occurred was 1836 when Richard M. Johnson, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, did not receive a majority of the electoral votes. The electors from Virginia chose not to support the Democratic vice presidential candidate because he had allegedly lived with an African-American woman and fathered two daughters with her. The Senate elected Johnson as the vice president regardless of the scandal.

The impoundment of funds is the refusal to spend money appropriated by Congress for a specific item. Many presidents have taken this action and there was little disapproval from Congress prior to President Nixon’s impoundment in 1973. Congressional response to this impoundment was enactment of The Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, which required the president to spend the money appropriated by Congress. In 1975 (after President Nixon had resigned from office) the Supreme Court held that the president must spend money appropriated by Congress, unless Congress approved of the impoundment.

In addition to formal advisors, the president sometimes relies on family members. President Kennedy selected his brother Robert Kennedy as the attorney general and he relied heavily on his advice. During the Johnson administration, however, Congress enacted legislation that prohibits the president from appointing family members to formal executive positions. This has not stopped presidents from seeking the advice of family members. Many presidents, including Carter, Reagan, and Clinton, admitted that they often sought the advice of their spouse when making important decisions. President Clinton formed a task force headed by his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to address the issue of health care. Is such reliance problematic? What role would Bill Clinton play in a Hillary Clinton presidency?

Usually the presidential candidate selects a vice presidential candidate who will help to balance the ticket. While this may help to win the election, it presents some problems if the balancing is done in terms of political philosophy. The president is now faced with a vice president who has taken significantly different positions on major policy issues. Ronald Reagan selected a running mate who was his chief rival for the Republican nomination. When campaigning against Reagan, George H.W. Bush referred to Reagan’s economic views as “voodoo economics.” Within nine months of making this statement Bush was sworn into office as the vice president to Reagan. Al Gore chose Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate, despite the fact that Gore and Lieberman had opposing views on school vouchers and other issues (Lieberman favored them, Gore did not).



Under what circumstances would the Cabinet and vice president submit a letter to Congress under the Twenty-fifth Amendment? Had this amendment been a part of the Constitution when President Woodrow Wilson had a stroke it would have placed the vice president and the cabinet in a difficult position. If they had voted to replace the president, they would have been criticized for seeking the executive power. If they had not voted to replace the president, they would have been criticized for failing to take action. To date this provision of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment has not been used. If it were used, it could prove a controversial time in the life of the nation.
CHAPTER OUTLINE

  1. Who Can Become President?

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution sets forth the qualifications to be president. The two major limitations are age, a minimum of 35, and being a natural-born citizen, thus eliminating naturalized citizens. While these minimal requirements would seem to allow most people the opportunity to run, only a few individuals have had a realistic chance. Of the 43 persons who have served as president all have been white males and through 2004 only one, John Kennedy, was not a Protestant or Unitarian. A majority of the presidents have been lawyers and many have been wealthy. Still, presidential candidates have had more varied backgrounds than members of Congress.

  1. The Process Of Becoming President

Because of the two-party system in the United States, it would be exceedingly difficult for someone to be elected without the nomination of one of the two major parties. Once the candidate has received a nomination he or she must win a majority of the votes cast in the Electoral College. Each state’s allocation of electors is determined by their congressional representation (that is, the number of members of the House, plus two more for their Senators). The electors are decided in most states on a winner-take-all system, with the candidate who receives the plurality of votes winning. Thus, it is possible for a candidate to lose the popular vote but still win election as president, as was the case in 2000. Usually, however, the electoral vote serves to exaggerate the successful candidate’s margin of victory. It is possible for no candidate to receive a majority of the votes cast in the Electoral College. As long as there are only two strong candidates, it is unlikely that neither would receive a simple majority of electoral votes, although there could be a tie (269-269). If no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the House will elect the president by voting state by state for a candidate. This would mean that California, which has 52 representatives, would get one vote and Wyoming which has one representative, would receive one vote. Under current and foreseeable circumstances, that guarantees a Republican victory.

  1. The Many Roles of the President

Over time, the institution of the presidency has evolved into numerous formal and informal roles.

    1. Head of State. One role is ceremonial head of state. As head of state the president is afforded a status of symbolic royalty. In most countries the head of state is not the leader of government, but a separate position such the queen in Britain or the president in Germany.

    2. Chief Executive. The president also functions as the chief executive. In this position, the president is leader of government in the executive branch. This position requires that the president administer the laws of the country.

      1. The Powers of Appointment and Removal. The president is responsible for selecting high-ranking unelected officers of the government. As a result of the civil service system, the number of political appointments is a small part of the total number of government employees—somewhat more than 5,000 positions.

      2. The Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons. Key terms: Reprieve, a formal postponement of the execution of a sentence imposed by a court of law. Pardon, a release from the punishment for or legal consequences of a crime; a pardon can be granted by the president before or after a conviction.

    3. Commander-in-Chief.

      1. Wartime Powers. The president also is commander-in-chief, or the head of the military. The founders had George Washington in mind when they assigned this responsibility. This role has become a position that has more power and responsibility than any other.

      2. The War Powers Resolution. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president to report to Congress on the use of force. Congress can require the president to withdraw forces.

    4. Chief Diplomat. As chief diplomat the president has the responsibility for setting the direction of foreign policy.

      1. Diplomatic Recognition. The president determines the governments that the United States will recognize as legitimate. The United States refused to recognize the governments of the Soviet Union and of the People’s Republic of China for decades after these communist governments came to power.

      2. Proposal and Ratification of Treaties. The president has the sole power to negotiate treaties. Two-thirds of the Senate must approve of a treaty before it goes into effect. Even if the Senate ratifies a treaty, it will not be valid unless the president then approves the Senate version of the treaty.

      3. Executive Agreements. The president can also make international agreements with the heads of foreign governments. These actions are called executive agreements and they do not require the approval of the Senate. However, executive agreements do not bind future presidents as treaties do.

    5. Chief Legislator. Some of the powers the president has as chief legislator are prescribed in the Constitution. For example, the president gives a State of the Union message to Congress each year. Frequently this speech is used to outline the president’s legislative agenda.

      1. Getting Legislation Passed. The president attempts to persuade Congress to pass his proposals. If the president is of the same party that has control of both houses of Congress, it is easier for him to work with Congress on his legislative agenda. When the opposition party controls Congress, the president has a more difficult task in gaining the enactment of his proposals.

      2. Saying No to Legislation. If Congress decides to ignore the agenda, the president may attempt to stop legislation by use of the veto. George W. Bush did not have to use his veto power until 2006 when he vetoed legislation dealing with stem-cell research.

      3. The Line-Item Veto. In 1996 Congress enacted legislation that allowed the president to use the line-item veto on bills of revenue. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional.

      4. Congress’s Power to Override Presidential Vetoes. When the president vetoes a bill, it is possible for Congress to override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers. Overall, only about seven percent of vetoes have been over-ridden.

    6. Other Presidential Powers. These include powers that Congress has bestowed on the president by statute (statutory powers) and those that are considered inherent powers. Inherent powers are those powers the head of government needs to fulfill his duties, as prescribed vaguely in the Constitution. An example of inherent powers is the emergency powers used by the president in times of war.

  1. The President As Party Chief and Superpolitician

    1. The President as Chief of Party. To gain the enactment of the specific proposals, the president has relied on the role of leader of a political party and the ability to mobilize public support for the president’s agenda. Increasingly, many party members see the president as chief campaigner and chief fundraiser. Typically, candidates for Congress and even state offices rely on the president’s ability to generate contributions to help fund their campaigns. The president also is expected to “go on the stump” and campaign for politicians of his party who are up for election. This is particularly true of incumbent members of the House and Senate who are members of the president’s party. Frequently, this is beneficial for candidates, particularly if the president is popular in the district. Presidents also have the power to reward loyal supporters with political positions or by supporting “pork.”

    2. The President’s Power to Persuade. Richard Neustadt observed almost fifty years ago that ultimately presidential success comes down to “the power to persuade.” The targets of this persuasion are usually Congress and the American people.

    3. Constituencies and Public Approval.

      1. Presidential Constituencies. These include the people of the country and also the supporters of the president’s party. The Washington community, the whole body of politically active persons in the capital, can be considered as an important constituency.

      2. Public Approval. How much success the president has is, in part, influenced by the public support for the president as measured in public opinion polls. George W. Bush is a veritable case study in the fluctuation of public opinion, going from some of the highest approval ratings in history after 9/11 to only 31% in 2006.

      3. “Going Public.” When the president presents an idea to Congress, he may also “go public” in an attempt to generate popular support for his proposal.

  2. The Special Uses of Presidential Power

    1. Emergency Powers. These can be used during periods of national crisis. The United States Supreme Court identified these powers in the case of United States v. Curtis-Wright Export Corporation in 1936.

    2. Executive Orders. Key concepts: Executive order, a rule or regulation issued by the president that has the effect of law. Executive orders can implement and give administrative effect to provisions in the Constitution, to treaties, and to statutes. Federal Register, a publication of the U.S. government that prints executive orders, rules, and regulations.

    3. Executive Privilege. This is the right of the president, or a member of his administration, to refuse to provide Congress with information. This action is based on the doctrine of the separation of powers.

      1. Limiting Executive Privilege. There are limits to this type of claim as was demonstrated in the case of United States v. Nixon in 1974, which held that executive privilege cannot be used to withhold evidence to be used in criminal proceedings.

      2. Clinton’s Attempted Use of Executive Privilege. While under investigation for allegedly lying about a sexual affair, President Clinton attempted to claim executive privilege in a number of instances. The courts rejected the argument, following the precedent of United States v. Nixon.

  3. Abuses of Executive Power and Impeachment

Article I, Section 2, gives the House the sole power of impeachment. If a majority of the members of the House vote to impeach an officer of the United States, the Senate will conduct a trial. If two-thirds of the Senators vote for conviction, the officer is removed from office. There have been fewer than 25 impeachments in the history of the United States and of this number only two were presidents. Andrew Johnson, who took office after the assassination of President Lincoln, was impeached by the House. The Senate conducted a trial of impeachment but did not vote to convict. President Nixon resigned his position in the face of a vote on impeachment by the House in 1974. President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House on charges he lied to a federal grand jury regarding his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and on obstruction of justice. The Senate refused to convict Clinton. The concept of impeachment is important because without this power there would be little that could be done to control criminal behavior by a top leader. On the other hand, this power could be abused and lead to politically motivated impeachments.

  1. The Executive Organization

The structural organization of the executive branch was not outlined in detail by the founding fathers. All the Constitution provides for is a president and a vice president. The remaining structure was left to the discretion of the president and Congress. This lack of constitutional rigidity has allowed for a flexible expansion of the executive branch. By far the greatest growth in the executive branch occurred in the twentieth century.

    1. The Cabinet.

      1. The Members of the Cabinet. The department secretaries and the attorney general meet to receive directives from the president, provide the president with information from their areas of specialization, and to advise the president on matters of state. The president may appoint other top officials to the cabinet, such as the vice president, the head of the National Security Agency or the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The president may also rely on the advice from close friends who do not hold a seat in government. These advisors are called the “kitchen cabinet.” This type of informal advice may be more important to a president than the advice he receives from the formal executive structure.

      2. Presidential Use of Cabinets. Some presidents have made more use of the cabinet as an advisory body than others. Often, cabinet members represent their departments to the detriment of the administration, which limits their effectiveness as impartial advisers.

    2. The Executive Office of the President. This is made up of a variety of agencies that operate directly under the president:

  • White House Office.

  • White House Military Office.

  • Office of the Vice President.

  • Council of Economic Advisers.

  • Council on Environmental Quality.

  • National Security Council.

  • Office of Management and Budget.

  • Office of National AIDS Policy.

  • Office of National Drug Control Policy.

  • Office of Science and Technology Policy.

  • Office of the United States Trade Representative.

  • President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

  • President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

      1. The White House Office. This includes the legal counsel to the president, secretary, press secretary, appointments secretary, and the chief of staff. Members of this office are highly political and may be former campaign officials. Also, the White House Military Office provides communications, transportation, medical care, and food services to the president and the White House staff.

      2. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This agency prepares the president’s budget, and grades and judges all executive agencies.

      3. The National Security Council. The president’s key foreign and defense policy advisers. It includes the president, the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, as well as other informal members, and the president’s national security adviser. In George W. Bush’s first term this was Condoleezza Rice, the first woman to serve in this position.

  1. The Vice Presidency

    1. The Vice President’s Job.

      1. Strengthening the Ticket. Traditionally the presidential candidate selected a vice presidential candidate who would strengthen the ticket. This usually meant the presidential candidate would select someone from a different geographical area and with different constituency strengths. Sometimes candidates would select a running mate with a different philosophical perspective. President Clinton broke with tradition in selecting Al Gore as his running mate. Both men were from the South and both were considered to be moderates within the Democratic Party. In his selection of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush sought to include someone on the ticket with national political experience and who was recognized as having strengths on issues like foreign policy, an area of weakness for Bush.

      2. Supporting the President. Once elected, the vice president is relegated to perform the tasks assigned by the president, which traditionally have been insignificant. In recent decades, however, vice presidents have served as important presidential advisers.

    2. Presidential Succession. While the vice president has few formal obligations, there is one major responsibility—replacing the president if the president resigns, dies, or is incapable of performing the duties of president. On nine occasions the vice president has replaced the president. Other than Nixon’s resignation, all have been due to the death of the president. When the vice president replaces the president, he becomes the new president with all of the same powers and duties as if he had been elected. One major flaw with this system was that once the vice president became president there existed a vacancy in the vice presidency. On the first seven occasions when a vice president became president there was no way for the president to select a vice president. After President Kennedy was assassinated and Vice President Johnson became the new president, Congress began to work on an amendment that would eliminate this problem.

    3. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Ratified in 1967, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment would be used twice in the next seven years. One of the more controversial provisions in the Twenty-Fifth Amendment concerns the ability of the president to perform the duties of his office. If the vice president and a majority of the principal officers of the executive departments (Cabinet) indicate to the leaders of Congress that the president is not capable of performing the duties of the office, the vice president shall assume power as the acting president.

    4. When the Vice Presidency Becomes Vacant. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment states that a vice president replacing a president can nominate a new vice president who must be confirmed by a majority of both houses of Congress. In 1973 vice president Spiro Agnew resigned. President Nixon nominated the minority leader of the house, Gerald Ford. Ford was confirmed by both houses of Congress. In August of 1974 President Nixon resigned and was replaced by Ford, who nominated Nelson Rockefeller to become vice president. Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress.

  2. Features

    1. What If . . . There Were No Executive Privilege?

Executive privilege is the right of executive officials to refuse to appear before or to withhold information from the legislature or judiciary. Executive privilege is enjoyed by the president and by those officials accorded that right by the president. Usually presidential administrations use executive privilege to safeguard national security secrets. If there were no executive privilege, presidents would know that all of his or her words, documents, and actions could be made public. Such a scenario would make it difficult for the current president to wage war or terrorism, and could lead government officials to resort to “informal” and secret meetings.

    1. Politics and the Presidency—Does the President Have the Power to Execute Only Part of the Laws of the Land?

George W. Bush has made extensive use of “signing statements,” in which he signs a bill into law but expresses reservations about following the law in all circumstances. Some critics contend that if the president opposes a bill that has been enacted by Congress, the president has the obligation to either veto it and send it back to Congress or to sign the bill into law and then abide by the law. However, Bush is not the first president to employ signing statements and some in Congress are unconcerned about the practice, arguing that it simply represents the opinion of the president and does not have the force of law.

    1. Which Side Are You On? Should the President Have the Power to Authorize Warrantless Domestic Surveillance?

One of the most controversial aspects of the Bush Administration’s war on terror was the National Security Agency’s program of warrantless domestic surveillance. Supporters of the president cited the necessity of going beyond the usual rules in this new age of danger from terrorists. Critics argued that the president is required to follow the law of the land in any situation, regardless of the danger.

    1. Beyond Our Borders: Heads of Government Are Not Always Elected As Such

The system employed in the United States, in which the president serves as both head of government and symbolic chief of state, is the exception rather than the rule, and stands in stark contrast to the system employed in Great Britain, in which the Prime Minister and the Queen assume these different roles.

Burns


LECTURE OUTLINE

  1. What If . . . There Were No Executive Privilege?

    1. The right of executive officials to refuse to appear before or withhold information from, a legislative committee. Executive privilege is enjoyed by the president and by those officials accorded that right by the president. Usually presidential administrations use executive privilege to safeguard national security secrets.

    2. If there were no executive privilege, presidents would know that all of his or her words, documents and actions could be made public.

    3. Such a scenario would make it difficult for the current president to wage war or terrorism, and could lead government officials to resort to “informal” and secret meetings. If executive privilege were eliminated, it would also negatively impact the ability of the government to protect its citizens from terrorism.

  2. Who Can Become President?

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution sets forth the qualifications for presidential candidates. The two major limitations are age, minimum of 35, and being a natural-born citizen, thus eliminating naturalized citizens. While these minimal requirements would seem to allow most people the opportunity to be a candidate for president only a few individuals have had a realistic chance. Of the 43 individuals who have served as president all have been white males and only one, John Kennedy, was not a Protestant. Furthermore, all have held positions of leadership and have been affiliated with a major political party prior to their election. Because of the strength of the two major political parties it would seem unlikely that an individual would be elected president without the nomination of one of the two major parties. As females and ethnic minorities assume more positions of power within the two major parties they will have a better opportunity of being a candidate for their party nomination.

  1. The Process Of Becoming President

    1. As explained in detail in Chapter 10 of the textbook, the election process for control of the White House is a complex procedure. Because of the two-party system in the United States, it would be exceedingly difficult for someone to be elected without the nomination of one of the two major parties. The parties each nominate their candidate at a National Party Convention in the summer preceding the November election. Yet potential nominees typically begin campaigning several years before the election. In order to gain the nomination of either of the two major parties, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast by delegates at the national convention of the party. Once the candidate has received the nomination he or she must win a majority of the votes cast in the Electoral College (which is not necessarily a majority of the popular vote).

    2. The Electoral College is a safety net provided in the Constitution to protect the country against “mob rule.” Each state’s allocation of electors is determined by their congressional representation (that is, the number of members of the House, plus two more for their Senators). As in the House of Representatives, the Electoral College can be controlled by the most populous states. The electors are decided in most states on a winner take system, with the candidate who receives the plurality of votes winning. Thus, it is possible for a candidate to lose the popular vote but still win election as president, as was the case in 2000. Usually, however, the electoral vote serves to exaggerate the successful candidate’s margin of victory.

    3. It is possible for no candidate to receive a majority of the votes cast in the Electoral College. When this occurs the House of Representatives elects the president. This has happened twice, the last time was 1824. As long as there are only two candidates it is unlikely that neither would receive a simple majority of electoral votes, although there could be a tie (269-269). If no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the House will elect the president by voting by state for a candidate. This would mean that California, which has 52 representatives, would get one vote and Wyoming which has one representative would receive one vote. In order to win such an election a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast by state.

    4. In the event that no presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes it would be unlikely that a vice presidential candidate would receive a majority of electoral votes. If no vice presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes the Senate elects the vice president. The last time this occurred was 1836 when Richard M. Johnson, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, did not receive a majority of the electoral votes. A significant number of electors chose not to support the Democratic vice presidential candidate because of a rumored sexual scandal involving Johnson. The Senate elected Johnson as the vice president regardless of the scandal.

    5. As was evidenced in the 2000 election, there was outrage, particularly on the part of supporters of Al Gore, as a result of the 2000 elections. Most of the protest, however, came as a result of vote fraud claims in the state of Florida, which determined the outcome of the election in the Electoral College. In spite of the fact that Gore won the popular vote and Bush won the electoral vote, there was relative acceptance of the outcome, and the role the Electoral College plays in electing the president. As was pointed out in 2000, changing the way the president is elected would be very difficult. An amendment to the Constitution would have to be proposed by Congress and then it would have to be ratified by 3/4 of the states. Although this could transpire, it would require overwhelming support in Congress and from state legislatures. While many Americans have requested such an alteration in the Constitution it seems unlikely that such a change will be made in the near future.

  2. The Many Roles of the President

    1. Over time the institution of the presidency has evolved into numerous formal and informal roles. One role is Chief of State. In this position, the president performs the role of the ceremonial head of state. As head of state the president is afforded a status of symbolic royalty. In most countries the head of state is not the leader of government, but is a separate position like the queen in England or the president in France.

    2. The president also functions as the Chief Executive. In this position, the president is leader of government in the executive branch. This position requires that the president administer the laws of the country. He is therefore the head of the bureaucracy and is responsible for selecting all high-ranking officers of the government who are not elected.

    3. The president also is Commander-in-Chief, or the head of the military. This has become a position that has more power and responsibility than most people can comprehend. Clearly the authors of the Constitution did not intend, nor could they have foreseen, the president possessing the amount of power that the head of the military now has at his disposal. As the military power of the United States increases so too does the power of the president. This power has greatly influenced the role that every modern president has had to assume in world affairs.

    4. As Chief Diplomat the president has the responsibility for setting the direction of foreign policy. The president determines which countries the United States will recognize. He will also propose treaties, although 2/3 of the Senate must approve of such action before the treaty is effective. The president can also make international agreements with the heads of foreign governments. These actions are called executive agreements and they do not require the approval of the Senate.

    5. Some of the powers the president has as Chief Legislator are prescribed in the Constitution. In this role the president is the initiator of a legislative agenda for congressional action. The president gives a State of the Union message to Congress each year. Frequently this speech is used to outline the president’s legislative agenda. If Congress decides to ignore the agenda, the president may attempt to stop legislation by use of the veto, although it is possible for Congress to override the veto with a 2/3 majority in each chamber. In 1996 Congress enacted legislation that allowed the president to use the line-item veto on bills of revenue. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional. This law could have had a dramatic impact on the legislative process.

    6. Other presidential powers include powers that Congress has bestowed on the president by statute (statutory powers) and those that are considered inherent powers. Statutory powers include Congressional legislation like the War Powers Resolution, which confines presidential use of force. Inherent powers are those powers the head of government needs to fulfill his duties, as prescribed vaguely in the Constitution. An example of inherent powers is the emergency power used by the president in times of war.

  3. The President As Party Chief and Super Politician

    1. As the roles of the president have evolved the institution of the presidency has gained considerable power and responsibility. In the twentieth century presidents have been expected to take an active role in setting an agenda for both domestic and foreign policy. In order to gain the enactment of the specific proposals the president has had to rely on his role as the leader of his political party and his ability to mobilize public support for his agenda. If the president is of the same party that has control of both houses of Congress it is easier for him to work with Congress on his legislative agenda. When the opposition party controls Congress, the president has a more difficult task in gaining the enactment of his proposals. How much success the president has is, in part, influenced by the public support for the president as measured in public opinion polls. When the president presents an idea to Congress, he may “go public” in an attempt to generate support for his proposal. He is also likely to rely on specific constituencies to contact Congress requesting the enactment of the policy. If the president is not successful in persuading Congress to enact his agenda he will have a difficult task in seeking reelection, or if he is in his second term of office he will have a difficult time in accomplishing his overall goals.

    2. Increasingly, many party members see the president as chief campaigner and chief fundraiser. Typically, candidates for Congress and even state offices rely on the president’s ability to generate contributions t help fund their campaigns. The president also is expected to “go on the stump” and campaign for politicians of his party up for election. This is particularly true of incumbent members of the House and Senate who are members of the president’s party. Frequently, this is beneficial for candidates. But during the 2000 presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore recognized the need to distance himself from President Clinton negative personal baggage, while keeping his links to the administration responsible for a period of strong economic growth.

  4. The Special Uses of Presidential Power

    1. Emergency powers can be used during periods of national crisis. The United States Supreme Court enunciated these powers in the case of United States v. Curtis-Wright Export Corporation in 1936. These powers are rarely used by presidents and when they are used it is most likely to occur in times of war.

    2. Executive orders are rules or regulations issued by the president that have the same effect as a law. This power allows the president to take action within a congressionally proscribed area that results in specific policy directive.

    3. Executive privilege is the right of the president, or a member of his administration, to refuse to provide Congress with information. This is a legitimate action that is based on the separation of powers. There are limits to this type of claim as was demonstrated in the case of United States v. Nixon in 1974, which held that executive privilege cannot be used to prevent evidence from being heard in criminal proceedings.

    4. The impoundment of funds is the refusal to spend money appropriated by Congress for a specific item. Many presidents have taken this action and there was little disapproval from Congress prior to President Nixon’s impoundment in 1973. Congressional response to this impoundment was enactment of The Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, which required the president to spend the money appropriated by Congress. In 1975 (after President Nixon had resigned from office) the Supreme Court held that the president must spend money appropriated by Congress, unless Congress approved of the impoundment.

  5. Abuses of Executive Power: Impeachment

Article I, Section 2, gives the House the sole power of impeachment. If a majority of the members of the House vote to impeach an officer of the United States, the Senate will conduct a trial of impeachment. If two-thirds of the Senators vote for conviction the officer is removed from office. There have been less than 25 impeachments in the history of the United States and of this number only two were presidents. Andrew Johnson, who took office after the assassination of President Lincoln, was impeached by the House. The Senate conducted a trial of impeachment but did not vote to convict the president. President Nixon resigned his position in the face of a vote on impeachment by the House in 1974. President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges he lied to a federal grand jury regarding his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and on obstruction of justice. The Senate did not convict President Clinton. The concept of impeachment is important because without this power there would be little the public or other governmental officials could do if a person was taking action that could be considered criminal. On the other hand this power could be abused and lead to the political impeachment of officers of the United States. Since the adoption of the Constitution this has been a seldom-used power.

  1. The Executive Organization

    1. The structural organization of the executive branch was not outlined in detail by the founding fathers. All the Constitution provides for is a president and a vice president. The remaining structure was left to the discretion of the president and Congress. This lack of constitutional structure has allowed the executive branch to be as flexible as Congress and the president have desired. If the structure had been written into the Constitution, any alteration in structure would have required an amendment.

    2. By far the largest growth within the executive branch has occurred in the twentieth century. Prior to the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the size of the executive branch was less than half its current size. But Roosevelt’s administration, overburdened in its attempts to administer its New Deal programs, increased the size of federal bureaucracy to accommodate its new responsibilities. Chapter 14 of the textbook will focus on the federal bureaucracy; the following represents the organization of those who formally advise the president.

      1. The cabinet - the 13 department secretaries and the attorney general who meet to receive directives from the president, provide the president with information from their area of specialization, and to advise the president on matters of state.

      2. The Executive Office of the President - nine staff agencies that assist the president in performing the duties of the executive branch.

        1. White House Office

        2. Council of Economic Advisers

        3. National Security Council

        4. Office of the United States Trade Representative

        5. Council of Environmental Quality

        6. Office of Management and Budget

        7. Office of Science and Technology Policy

        8. Office of Administration

        9. Office of Policy Development

    3. In addition to formal advice, the president may rely on the advice of individuals who are not in the executive branch organization. President Kennedy selected his brother Robert Kennedy as the attorney general and he relied heavily on the advice of his brother. During the Johnson administration Congress enacted legislation that prohibits the president from selecting family members to serve in formal executive positions. This has not stopped presidents from seeking the advice of family members. President Carter and President Reagan admitted that they often sought the advice of their spouse when making important decisions. President Clinton formed a task force headed by his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to address the issue of health care. In addition to family members the president may also rely on the advice from close friends who do not hold a seat in government. These advisors are called the “kitchen cabinet.” This type of informal advice may be more important to a president than the advice he receives from the formal executive structure.

  2. The Vice Presidency

    1. Traditionally the presidential candidate selects a vice presidential candidate who will appeal to voters. This usually means the presidential candidate will select someone who is from a different geographical area and who has different constituency strengths. Sometimes candidates also will select a running mate with a different philosophical perspective. Examples include: Richard Nixon, a moderate from California, selecting Spiro Agnew, a conservative from Maryland; Jimmy Carter, a moderate from Georgia selecting Walter Mondale, a liberal from Minnesota; Ronald Reagan, a conservative from California selecting George Bush, a moderate from Texas; and George H. W. Bush, selecting Dan Quayle, a conservative from Indiana.

    2. Selecting the running mate on the basis of how well he or she would serve in a particular capacity would be a major break with tradition. It would probably mean that the presidential candidate was not primarily concerned with the impact the vice presidential candidate would have on the election. Since the major objective of the presidential candidate is to be elected it would seem unlikely that the decision of whom to select as a running mate would not be a political decision. President Clinton did break with tradition in selecting Al Gore as his running mate. Both men were from the South and both were considered to be moderates within the Democratic party.

    3. Usually the presidential candidate selects someone who will help to balance the ticket. While this may help to win the election, it presents some problems once the president has been elected. The president is now faced with a vice president who has taken significantly different positions on major policy issues. Ronald Reagan selected a running mate who was his chief rival for the Republican nomination. When campaigning against Reagan, George H. W. Bush referred to Reagan’s economic views as “voodoo economics.” Within nine months of making this statement Bush was sworn into office as the vice president to President Reagan. Al Gore chose Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate, despite the fact that Gore and Lieberman had opposing views on school vouchers (Lieberman favored them, Gore did not). Once elected the vice president is relegated to perform the tasks assigned by the president, which in most cases are insignificant.

    4. While the vice president has few formal obligations, there is one major obligation that can occur: replacing the president if the president resigns, dies, or is incapable of performing the duties of president. On eight occasions the vice president has replaced the president. Other than Nixon’s resignation, all have been due to the death of the president. When the vice president replaces the president, he becomes the new president with all of the powers and duties as if he had been elected. One major flaw with this system was that once the vice president became president there was no vice president. On the first seven occasions when a vice president became president there was no way for the president to select a vice president. After President Kennedy was assassinated and Vice President Johnson became the new president, Congress began to work on an amendment that would eliminate this problem.

    5. The Twenty-fifth Amendment was ratified in 1967 and was used twice in the next seven years. This amendment states that a vice president replacing a president is the new president and can nominate a new vice president. If a majority of both houses of Congress approve of the nominee the individual will be sworn into office as the new vice president. One of the members of the House who supported this amendment was Carl Albert, who would become the next Speaker of the House. In 1973 the vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned. President Nixon nominated the Minority Leader of the House, Gerald Ford and he was confirmed by both houses of Congress. In August of 1974 President Nixon resigned and was replaced by Ford. Had the Twenty-fifth Amendment not been ratified Ford could not have become vice president. This would have meant that Carl Albert, the Speaker of the House, would have had to replace Nixon as president. Although it is possible Nixon would not have resigned if Ford was not the vice president, it is interesting to speculate as to what would have occurred without the new amendment.

    6. One of the more controversial provisions in the Twenty-fifth Amendment concerns the ability of the president to perform his normal duties. If the vice president and a majority of the principal officers of the executive departments (Cabinet) indicate to the leaders of Congress that the president is not capable of performing the duties of the office, the vice president shall assume power as the acting president. Under what circumstances would the Cabinet and vice president submit such a letter to Congress? Had this amendment been a part of the Constitution when President Woodrow Wilson had a stroke it would have placed the vice president and the cabinet in a difficult position. If they had voted to replace the president, they would have been criticized for seeking the executive power. If they had not voted to replace the president, they would have been criticized for failing to take action. To date this provision of the Twenty-fifth Amendment has not been used. If it is, it could prove a controversial time in the life of the nation.

This chapter offers a historical perspective on the evolution of the presidential office and explains the steady increase in its power surpassing the original expectations of the Framers. It also examines the presidential selection process and the staffing of the modern presidency, both of which contribute to the president’s prominence in the American political system. The main points of the chapter are:

Public expectations, national crises, and changing national and world conditions have required the presidency to become a strong office. Underlying this development is the public support that the president acquires from being the only nationally elected official.

The modern presidential election campaign is a marathon affair in which self-selected candidates must prepare for a strong start in the nominating contest and center their general election strategies on media, issues, and a baseline of support. The lengthy campaign process helps to heighten the public’s sense that the presidency is at the center of the U.S. political system.

The modern presidency could not operate without a large staff of assistants, experts, and high-level managers, but the sheer size of this staff makes it impossible for the president to exercise complete control over it.

The presidency has become a much stronger office than the Framers envisioned. The Constitution grants the president substantial military, diplomatic, legislative, and executive powers, and in each case the president’s authority has increased measurably. Underlying this change is the president’s position as the one leader chosen by the whole nation. The public’s support and expectations underlie presidential claims of broad authority.

National crises have contributed to the growth of presidential power. The public looks to the president during national emergencies, in part because the presidency is better suited than Congress to the decisive and continuous action that emergencies require. Changing world and national conditions have also enhanced the presidency. In the twentieth century, the United States has emerged as a world political and military leader, while the foundations of America’s economy and society have changed from an agrarian to an industrial base. These changes have placed new and greater demands on the federal government, demands that the president is in some ways better able than Congress to meet. The president’s ability to exercise decisive leadership has been an important factor in the strengthening of the office (see OLC audio, "Kennedy’s Inaugeration Address," at www.mhhe.com/patterson5).

The nation has had four systems of presidential selection. The first centered on Congress and the electoral college, the second on party conventions, the third on a convention system with some state primaries, and the current one on state primaries and open caucuses at the dominant method of choosing presidential nominees. Each succeeding system has been more "democratic" in that it was designed to give the public greater influence in the choice of the president and thus to make the selection more legitimate.

To gain nomination, a strong showing in the early primaries is necessary because news coverage and other resources flow toward winning candidates. This momentum is a critical factor in nominating races but normally benefits a candidate who, by virtue of his past record, stands on issues, ideology, or other factors, already is in the strongest position to win nomination. Once nominated, the major-party candidates receive federal funds for the general election campaign; much of this money is spent on televised political advertising. The candidates themselves spend their time traveling around the nation, concentrating on the states with large numbers of electoral votes and trying to get favorable coverage from the journalists who follow their every move. Winning candidates must meet the formal requirements for office outlined in the Constitution, and most meet the informal requirements (on gender, race, etc.) that have evolved over time. To be elected president, a candidate must win an absolute majority (270) of the electoral votes. The length, expense, etc., of the modern presidential campaign has led to calls for its reform (see OLC simulation, "Presidential Campaign Reform," at www.mhhe.com/patterson5).

Although the campaign tends to personalize the presidency, the responsibilities of the modern presidency far exceed any president’s personal capacities. To meet their obligations, presidents have surrounded themselves with large staffs of advisors, policy experts, and managers. (See OLC Graphic, "Growth of the Presidential Cabinet," at www.mhhe.com/patterson5.) These staff members enable the president to extend control over the executive branch while providing him with the information necessary for policymaking. All recent presidents have discovered, however, that their control of staff resources is incomplete and that some things that others do on their behalf actually work against what they are trying to accomplish.

This chapter focuses on the correlates of presidential success and failure in policymaking. It studies the factors affecting presidential leadership, also explaining how presidents help and hurt themselves in their efforts to lead the country. The main points of the chapter are:

Presidential influence on national policy is highly variable. Whether presidents succeed or fail in getting their policies enacted depends heavily on the force of circumstance, the stage of their presidency, partisan support in Congress, and the foreign or domestic nature of the policy issue.

The president’s election by national vote and his position as sole chief executive ensure that others will listen to his ideas; but, to lead effectively, the president must have the help of other officials and, to get their help, must respond to their interests as they respond to his.

The president often finds it difficult to maintain the high level of public support that gives force to his leadership. The American people have unreasonably high expectations of the president and tend to blame him for national problems.

No president has come close to winning approval of all the programs he has placed before Congress, but presidents’ records of success have varied considerably. Thus Lyndon Johnson had a very high success rate with Congress in 1965 (Democratic majorities in both houses), while Reagan and Bush, Republican presidents facing a Democratic Congress, had problems in the 1980s. The factors in a president’s success include the presence or absence of national conditions that require strong leadership from the White House; the stage of the president’s term (success usually comes early, especially during the so-called "honeymoon period"); the strength of the president’s party in Congress; and the focus of the policy issue (presidents do somewhat better in the area of foreign policy than in domestic policy). A president must learn to use the resources at his disposal to persuade others, particularly Congress, to agree to his policy initiatives. Presidents sometimes can force Congress to accept their position through the threat or use of the veto, since Congress can rarely override a veto (see OLC graphic, "Tracking Presidential Vetoes," at www.mhhe.com/patterson5). However, the use of the veto is often a sign of presidential weakness rather than strength, since it means that other means of persuasion have failed.

The concept of the "two presidencies" in explaining presidential success was particularly relevant in the aftermath of World War II. Today, with the demise of the Cold War, presidential power seems to be diminished in both the domestic and foreign policy spheres. Congress now is less deferential to the president in both foreign and domestic affairs and is more willing to legislate to correct what it perceives as presidential excesses. The War Powers Act remains a symbol of potential congressional authority in constraining the president (in this case, his decision to send troops overseas). Still, the president’s advantage in foreign policy is likely to continue, especially with his advantage of access to a variety of intelligence agencies in the national government. Congress also retains the ability to control the president through its power of impeachment; the removal of a president is such a drastic action, however, that impeachment is very rarely used. (See OLC simulation, "Impeachment," at www.mhhe.com/patterson5.)

As sole chief executive and the nation’s top elected leader, the president can always expect that his policy and leadership efforts will receive attention. This is especially true given that the president is almost guaranteed access to the media, especially television. However, other institutions, particularly Congress, have the authority to make his leadership effective or ineffective. If the president is to succeed over the long run, he must have a proper conception of the presidency and understanding that the power of the presidency is the "power to persuade." Even more important, he must have the help of other officials, and to get their cooperation he must respond to their concerns. The president operates within a system of divided powers, and if he tries to go it alone, he is almost sure to fail.

To retain an effective leadership position, the president also depends on the strong backing of the American people. While many presidents have high support ratings early in their administrations, these ratings invariably decline due to disappointment, scandal, or general disillusionment. Unfortunately, the public expects far more from the president than he can deliver. The media is also a problem here, as it tends to dwell on presidential "broken promises" and/or difficulties, instead of what the chief executive has actually accomplished. Finally, the president’s efforts at public relations can backfire by raising public expectations too high.


Executive Privilege?

The right of executive officials to refuse to appear before or withhold information from, a legislative committee. Executive privilege is enjoyed by the president and by those officials accorded that right by the president. Usually presidential administrations use executive privilege to safeguard national security secrets.




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