Of the four institutions of the federal government (Presidency, Congress, Courts, Bureaucracy) it is the presidency that has evolved into the focal point of politics and government in America - the political plum for those seeking elected office.
When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were creating the office of the presidency they feared the possibility of tyrannical tendencies if the office was made too powerful. On the other hand they felt that a large nation with foreign enemies required an executive with substantial powers. They were also concerned that the president should not dominate Congress and that Congress should not dominate the president.
Regardless of what the founders had in mind, presidential power since the beginning of the 20th century has shown a tendency to expand and become a much more "imperial presidency".
The assumption that George Washington (a man famous for his self-restraint) would be the first president, coupled with the creation of the Electoral College (which was designed to (a) prevent the "untrustworthy ignorant American people" from electing the "wrong" president and (b) gain the support of the small states) allowed the framers to grant substantial powers to an indirectly elected presidency.
The number of electoral votes a state is allotted is determined by the number of congressional members it has. Each state determines how to cast its electoral college votes. Today, the winner-take-all system is practiced by all states. If no candidate wins 270 electoral votes the House of Representatives chooses the president from among the three leading candidates and the Senate chooses the Vice President. When a presidential election is thrown into the House, one vote is cast by each state delegation.
Since the New Deal era the presidents have headed a vast bureaucracy responsible for implementing government policy and providing policy initiatives. The job has become too big for any single person to manage and in 1937 the White House Staff and Executive Office of the President (EOP) were created. In selecting members of the White House Staff, presidents primarily seek people who are personally loyal to the president.
The EOP, which includes the Office of the Vice President, consists of agencies that perform services for the president but are not located in the White House itself. Most of these agencies have a specific function outlined in the law and their heads must receive Senate confirmation. (The president is not legally required to consult Congress when making appointments to, and reorganizing the White House Staff). The most important agency in the EOP in terms of providing administrative assistance is the Office of Management and Budget.
The cabinet consists of the heads of the executive departments. Cabinet members are heads of vast organizations which they seek to defend and enlarge. The loyalties of cabinet members are often divided between loyalty to he president and loyalty to their own executive departments. A president has relatively little power over his cabinet departments because only a tiny proportion of employees in cabinet departments (under 1 percent) can be appointed by the president. The president is fortunate if most of the cabinet heads agree with him on major policy questions and there is inevitable rivalry between the White House staff and cabinet.
Immediately upon taking office, the president is faced with the need to present a State of the Union Address, fill hundreds of appointive posts, and submit a new budget.
From the time of winning office to the time of leaving it, the personal popularity of most recent presidents tends to decrease (except at election time).
1. List three constitutional requirements to be a presidential candidate (Constitution Article II) ?
2. With the exception of (c), give an example of a President performing each of the following enumerated powers.(pgs.400-401)
a) administrative head of the nation (chief executive)
b) Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces
c) convene Congress
d) nominate officials and judges
e) negotiate treaties
f) grant pardons
3. In addition to the ability to appoint people to office and to pursuade the public, the president has four additional means with which to influence policy. Give an example for (a) and (b).
a. the veto -
b. Executive Privilege -
c. impoundment - Many presidents have refused to spend money appropriated by Congress for programs they did not like Nixon was particularly aggressive in doing this and eventually provoked Congress to pass the Budget Reform Act of 1974 which severely limited presidential impoundment.
d. use of the media (going public) - This is one area where the president has a distinct advantage over Congress.
4. Give a specific example of the inherent powers of the presidency (pgs.401-403)
5. Give a specific example of delegation of powers by Congress (pg.403)
6. According to political scientist Richard Neustadt, the essence of presidential power is the power to pursuade. Describe the three main elements involved in effective pursuasion. (pgs.403-404)
7. According to Neustadt how does each of the following factors affect presidential power ?
b. professional reputation and prestige
c. modern communication technology
d. the "honeymoon" period
e. high popularity
8. What was meant by Dwight Eisenhower's "hidden hand" strategy ? (pg.404)
9. Describe the role of the President's Chief of Staff ? (pg.413)
10. The White House Staff has more influence on the president than either the Cabinet, Vice President, or National Security Council. The organization of the White House Staff is determined by each president according to his personal needs. Contrast the way each of the following presidents organized their White House Staff ?
11. The president's cabinet is composed of the heads of the departments in the executive branch plus a small number of other key officials. What are three reasons the cabinet does not serve as an effective advisory body to the President ?
12. Why must the President be careful when choosing their personal staffs ? (pg. 418)
14. Describe the role of the legislative liason staff in the relationship between the president and Congress ? (pgs.422-423)
15. Explain the main emphasis of the president's role in foreign policy; (pg.425)
a. from the end of WWII until the collapse of communism in the early 90's ?
b. since the fall of Communism
16. The president's personality characterictics have a profound influence in determining a president's success or failure in office. Discuss the impact of character on the performance of (pgs.428-429)
a. Bill Clinton
b. Lyndon Johnson (see Feature 12.2 on pgs.430-431)
c. Richard Nixon
The Great Society
line item veto
War Powers Resolution (1973)
separation of powers
U.S. v. Nixon
National Security Council (NSC)