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Americans want a president who is powerful and who can do good: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy.
But at the same time, they don’t want the president to be too powerful since we are individualistic and skeptical of authority.
- Elections: most presidents
- Presidents are elected to a term of four years.
- In 1951, the 22nd Amendment limited the number of terms to two.
Succession and Impeachment
- Vice-President succeeds if the president leaves office due to death or resignation or convicted of impeachment
- Impeachment is investigated by the House, and if impeached, tried by the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding.
- Only two presidents have been impeached: A. Johnson & Clinton—neither was convicted.
|Four powers in the Constitution|
- Commander in Chief of the armed forces
- Make treaties with other nations
- Given information on the State of the Union
- Veto bills
- Faithfully execute law
- Nominate officials
Veto: Sending a bill back to Congress with reasons for rejecting it. Can be overridden by 2/3 Congress.
- Pocket Veto: Letting a bill die by not signing it when Congress is adjourned
- Vetoes used to prevent legislation
- No Item Veto for presidents
|Constitutional vagueness/weak president|
- Presidents are constitutionally weak
- Article II: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”
Article I: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress…”
Presidents were “second” to Congress throughout 19th century, except at founding and during war
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln
- 20th Century Expansion of Power
- New Deal Era leads to expanded power of and roles for the office
Although initially limiting presidential power, vagueness of Article II contributes to the expansion of presidential power in modern era.
- Presidents desire
- Good public policy
- Historical achievement
- Presidents use their power to achieve these goals
- Whether or not they are successful is dependent on a number of factors
- So presidential power is the power to persuade (Neustadt)
- Leadership skills
- Ability to persuade is limited, so:
- Presidents must take advantage of favorable conditions:
- Party support in Congress
- Existent public support
- Positive media relations
The skill presidents have in dealing with Congress, public, media, etc.
- Personal appeals, consulting with Congress
- Presidents must use “honeymoon” period effectively.
- Presidents must try to set the congressional agenda.
- Psychological bond
- Agreement on issues, policies
Legislators may win or lose reelection depending on the president
Party control is single best predictor of presidential success in Congress
- Yet presidents cannot always count on party support, especially on controversial issues
- Agreement no more than 2/3 of the time
|Party as strongest predictor of success|
- Presidents seek to cultivate public support through
- speeches and media events
- Going Public
- The president appeals to the public for support to help influence Congress
Requires that the public respond to presidential speeches—rarely occurs
- Otherwise, strategically target policies that are already popular with the American people
- Social security versus tax reform (2005)
How do we measure public support?
- Public Approval: Do you approve or disapprove of
- the job (the incumbent president) is doing?
Impact is an important source of influence in Congress, but occurs at the margins of
- A popular president is more likely to be successful in Congress than an unpopular one, but party control is MOST important
- Especially damaging to be unpopular
White House dedicates countless resources to its cultivation
- Product of:
- predispositions, i.e. party identification
- honeymoon period
- rally events
- national addresses
|Presidents and press; negative coverage|
- Media often more interested in the person, not the policies
- Scandals, negative coverage of president
- Media are everywhere
- “Death Watch”
|President influence over elections|
- Fundraisers and campaign stops, especially during presidential and midterm elections
- Voters vote for Congress and president based on performance in office
- Retrospective voting
- Mandates: perception that the voters strongly support the president’s policies when voting
- If mandate, then increase likelihood of legislative victory
- Party control is vital to presidential success in Congress
- If presidents can affect party makeup, then they have substantial advantage over legislation
- The Vice President
- Immediate successor to the president
- 25th Amendment to the US Constitution
- Selected by president before party convention
- Electoral benefits
- Policy expertise
- Someone who can be president
- Recent VEEPS (since Mondale) have had important jobs
- Dick Cheney—influential advisor on foreign and energy policies
- Al Gore—reinventing government and the environment
- Dan Quayle—Council on Environmental Quality
- The Cabinet
- Presidential advisors
- Made up of the top executives of the Federal Departments, confirmed by the Senate
- The White House Staff
- Chief aides and staff for the president
- Presidents rely on their information and effort
- Chief of Staff filters to president only what’s most important
- Press Secretary helps president communicate with the press