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The Presidency

The Executive Function

Each branch has a primary function
and virtue
Executive Function - Executing the Law
(power of the sword)
Executive Virtue - Energetic Action
Institutional Design to Match Function

What makes them powerful?

Decision, Activity, Secrecy & Dispatch

Why do you need a President?

Rule of a Single Man
Need a Strong
Individual who can give
us direction.
Problems of Law
Not Self-Executing
Cannot possibly foresee
every event
Prerogative Power

Lessons Learned from the Articles

Lessons learned from the Articles of
Executive power restrained initially.
Legislative power became predominant
leading to legislative tyranny.

This showed a need for an independent,

national executive
All situations cannot be foreseen need
someone to lead.

Creating the Presidency

American Founders sought to remedy

problems of Articles.
How did they make it energetic?
Vested in a single person
Congress does not select
Four Year Term
Substantial Constitutional Powers
How did they make it accountable?
Each branch is supreme within
Checked by other branches often

Vesting clause
The executive Power shall
be vested in a President of
the United States of
America. (Article II, Section
How does this differ from
Congress vesting clause?

Constitutional Powers and Duties

The Constitution empowers a president to do certain things

Opinions in Writing
Constitution provides powers that cannot be taken away by

Constitutional Powers and Duties

The Constitution places duties on a president that they must

State of the Union

Receive Ambassadors
Take Care that the Laws be Faithfully Executed
Commission Officers of U.S.
The President is the only federal officer required to take an
oath of office.

Informal Sources of Presidential Power

Presidential Popularity
More popular better suited to
get people to listen to you
Less popular, you are a liability
to your party
Rhetorical Ability
Presidents who can speak
better are more successful
Scandals and Public Perception
Public perceptions determine
how you use your legal powers

Roles of the Presidency

Formal Roles
Top Diplomat
Policy Initiator
Head of Bureaucracy
Chief Law Enforcement
Informal Roles
Head of State
Chief of Party

Characteristics of the Office

Natural-born American citizen
At least 35 years of age
A resident of the United States
for at least 14 years
Term of 4 years
May only serve for 10 years total
VP takes over last two years of
predecessors term
National Constituency

Considerations about Term Limits

Importance of re-eligibility
President may not try to acquire
public good

Incentivize staying within the

boundaries of the law
Experience/Wisdom important for

Changed with the 22nd Amendment


The Early Presidency

We had a limited constitutional role of

the President originally
Sentiments of the Washington very different
than modern presidents
National government originally very small.

The Early Presidency

First presidents were
very cautious
EX: Thomas Jefferson

Post-New Deal Change

Washington: The precedent setter

Office designed with Washington in
Six Precedents:
1.Circumventing Congressional
power grabs
2.Establishment of a Cabinet
3.Removal Power of officials in
executive branch:

Washington: The precedent setter

Six Precedents:
4. Exercise of Take Care Clause
(Whiskey Rebellion).
5. Chief foreign policy actor:
6. Two-term presidency

Andrew Jackson & The Constitutional

Appealed over the heads of
Congress directly to the
Creation of a mandate
First use of veto for policy
disagreement on the
National Bank

Lincoln & The Constitutional Presidency

Lincoln remembered for his leadership
and for his forceful use of executive
authority in order to preserve the
Lincoln extended the use of
presidential prerogative (exercised the
full extent of his office) due to the civil

Theodore Roosevelt: The beginning of the

rhetorical presidency?
TR cultivated public opinion
through use of the bully
Founders concerned about

Stewardship theory of the


Woodrow Wilson & The Modern

President should rely on
shaping public opinion
Use of rhetoric relevant
President representative of
national opinion
President should be legislative

A Wilsonian Understanding of the

The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The
government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of
checks and balances. The trouble with the theory is that
government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not
under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of
organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is
modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to
its functions by the sheer pressure of life.
No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as
checks, and live.

A Wilsonian Understanding of the

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in
structure and in practice. Society is a living organism
and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it
must develop. All the progressives ask or desire is
permissionin an era when development,
evolution, is the scientific wordto interpret the
Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.
Wilson (1912)
Checks and balances outdated.

FDR & The Modern Presidency

Fireside chats
Federal government directly
responsible for well-being of
Long-term changes to presidency

Structure of the Executive Branch

Command and Responsibility
Vice Presidency
Executive Office of the President
Problems of a Large Bureaucracy
(see next slide)
Magnitude of Government

The Presidency and Other Branches:

Cooperation VS Conflict
Depending on the issues
they handle, presidents may
mix up strategies in order to
obtain their goals:
Deliberation (on merits of
Congressmen pursue a
similar strategy

Presidents Use of Direct Authority:

Executive orders
Signing statements

Constitution and War Powers

Declare War
Raise & Regulate Military
Appropriate Funds
Vesting Clause
Treaty Power
Conflict between the branches is
never fully resolved, but encourages
political deliberation

Key Provisions of the War Powers

Resolution of 1973
Definition of the
Presidents Power to
put Forces in Combat
Consultation with
Reporting to Congress
Withdrawing Troops

Factors in Presidential Leadership

Public support
Events and issues
Rally round the flag effect
The televised presidency
Kernell: Going public
Potential issue with overuse

The Illusion of Presidential Government

Negative press portrayals and
consequences for a president.
Credit claiming/Avoiding

Picture above details results from

a 2012 poll.