Richard Neustadt, "Presidential power".
33: Art Schlesinger, "Imperial Presidency".
34: Thomas Cronin, "Paradoxes of Presidency".
36: Richard Posner, "Affair of State." [+]
Charles Black, "Impeachment." [Discontinued]
• “powers” are no guarantee of power
• despite his “powers” the President does not get results simply by giving orders
• Presidential power is the power to persuade
• The Constitutional Convention supposedly created a government of “separated powers”
instead it created a government of separate institutions “sharing powers”
• our political parties are composed of separated organizations sharing public authority
• White House has too small a share in nominating congressmen
• Congress has too little weight in nominating president
• party links are stronger than supposed, but nominating processes assure party separation
• presidential power is inconclusive when he commands but remains relevant when persuading
• presidents main task is to persuade others that his idea is best for everyone
• authority and status give president advantage when persuading others to perform actions
• Presidents advantages are greater than a list of his “powers” may suggest
• Presidents advantages are checked by the advantages of others
• Provides for a relationship of mutual dependence between president and congress
• President depends on persons whom he would persuade, therefore they too possess status or
authority or they would be of little use to the president
• power to persuade is power to bargain
• status and authority yield bargaining advantages
• in government of “shared powers” authority and status yield advantages to all sides
• presidents current choices must be made “looking toward tomorrow from today”
• today congress and president share powers fully, yet uncomfortably across the board of policy
• after the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war should be less of a burden on the president and
the contemplation of the presidents humanity should become less haunting for the American people
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~idea of imperial presidency
initially evolved for a clear and identifiable reason, then grew at
the expense of the constitutional order
says that the presidential primacy has turned into
supremacy and that the assumption of power by the presidency was gradual
and usually under the demand or pretext of emercency
Imperial presidency born in the 1940's and 1950's
~foreign policy had given president command of war/peace
~decay of parties gave him command of political scene
ticket splitting, independant voting, parties had lost function
~Keynesian revelation placed him in command of economy
Believes that a big part of imperial presidency
~power to withhold, power to leak, and power to lie
WITHHOLD: deny the public the knowledge that would make possible an
independant judgement on executive policy.
LEAK: to tell the people what it served the government's purpose
that they should know
~the secrecy system instilled in the executive branch the idea that
foreign policy was no one's business save its own and an uncontrolled
secrecy made it easy for lying to become routine
The longer the secrecy system dominated government
the more the
government assumed the right to lie.
Schlesinger believes that only condign punishment
would restore popular
faith in the presidency and deter future Presidents for illegal conduct.
Schlesinger was a noted
Saw the Presidency as a gradual accumulation of power that eventually led to the "Imperial
The Imperial Presidency initially evolved for a clear and identifiable reason, but then grew
due to other secondary factors
Certain presidents have used this power well (Roosevelt and Kennedy), while others
(Nixon) have abused and eventually destroyed the Imperial Presidency
The Imperial Presidency
Presidential primacy has
turned into Presidential supremacy
The Imperial Presidency received its decisive impetus from foreign policy, in specific the
decision to go to war
The assumption of power by the Presidency was gradual and usually under the demand or
pretext of emergency (FDR, the Great Depression, and WWII)
The Imperial Presidency grew at the expense of the constitutional order
The Imperial Presidency overwhelmed the traditional separation of powers in foreign
affairs (Vietnam), and began to grow toward a centralization of powers in the domestic
By the 1970s ticket-splitting had become common, and independent voting was spreading
Party loyalties reached an all time low in this era
As the parties wasted away, the Presidency stood out in solitary majesty as the central
The Imperial Presidency was born in the 40s and 50s to save the outer world from
perdition through presidential control and use of foreign policy through war
It began to find a place in US life in the 60s and 70s because of the decay of parties and
the economic revolution
The Presidency changes its shape, ethos, and intensity according to the man in charge
Every President reconstructs the Presidency to meet his own psychological needs
Nixon was the most monarchical of all the Presidents
Nixon's attitude, combined with an increasingly powerful Imperial Presidency due to the
Vietnam War, led to an institutionalization secrecy within the Executive
Secrecy gave the President three advantages: the power to withhold, the power to leak,
and the power to lie
Watergate blew away the mystique of secrecy and set off a spark that brought the
Imperial Presidency to an end
If the Nixon White House had escaped the legal consequences of its illegal behavior in
Watergate, future Presidents would have continued to feel that the Executive was above
Punishment for Watergate, then, restored popular faith in the Presidency and detered
future Presidents from illegal conduct
If corruption appears
to visit the White House in 50 year cycles as noted, then the
American people should go on alert around the year 2023
As long as Watergate is a vivid memory, the Presidency is inoculated against similar
When this memory wears off, the Presidency can run unchecked until brought down again
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w In the vignette the concept of citizens holding contrary images of the president is introduced, and a previous section is quoted with Michael Kammen saying that Americans are “people are paradoxes”.v The Origin of Presidential Ambiguity
w “With such paradoxical expectations of a president, is it any wonder that Americans judge the executive so harshly?”
w Historian Barbara Tuchman says “No aspect of society, no habit, custom, movement, development, is without cross-currents…” –In other words contradictions are a part of life and most people live never consciously realizing their judgment is polarized.
w How To Make Sense of the Presidency
w The physical and political laws that seem to constrain one president, liberate another.
w American Presidency could be best understood as a series of paradoxes, clashing expectations and contradictions.
w Good Leaders take advantage and even embrace contradictions when it comes to elections and policy making.
w Our expectations of, and demands on, the president are frequently so contradictory as to invite two-faced behavior by our Presidents
w The Founders purposely left the position imprecisely defined due to their fears of a monarchy and public opinion on a strong centralized government with a position resembling a king.v Today’s Dilemma
w The Framers hoped when the time came the people would want the Constitution interpreted into having a more powerful office of President.
w Executive power expands and contracts in response to varying situational and technological changes.v Paradox #1
w The informal and symbolic powers of the presidency account for as much as the formal, stated ones. (Means the president is responsible for things he isn’t even obligated to be responsible for)
w “While difficult, at the least we should develop a better understanding of what it is we ask of our presidents, thereby increasing our sensitivity to the limits and possibilities of what a president can achieve. This might free presidents to lead and administer more effectively in those critical times when the nation has no choice but to turn to them.”
w Americans demand powerful, popular presidential leadership that solves the nation’s problems. Yet we are inherently suspicious of strong central government and the possibility of power abuse.v Paradox #2
w We admire power but fear it. Also we recognize the need for secrecy, but hate to be left in the dark.
w We may not approve of the way a President acts, but we often approve of the end results.
w FDR and Lincoln both acted outside of Constitutional limits, but no one will argue that it was a bad thing because of the things they achieved while in office or happened directly because of them.
w We yearn for democratic “common person” and also the uncommon, charismatic, heroic, visionary performance. (We want our presidents to be like us, but better than us.)v Paradox #3
w If a president gets too special he is “roasted”, but if he tries too hard to be a commoner people get bored.
w Jimmy Carter ran as a local, down-home, farm-boy-next door, which contributed to his national success, but when this image died down, he introduced himself as a nuclear physicist and a peanut farmer.
w Ronald Reagan ran as a small town, Midwestern All-American, when in reality was a rich movie star. He boasted being a Democrat but campaigned as a Republican.
w Bill Clinton wanted to seen as both a Rhodes Scholar and a ordinary saxophone playing member of the high school band from Hope, Arkansas; as the next Kennedy, even Elvis, and also just another jogger who stops in at McDonalds after a run.
w We want a decent, just, caring, and compassionate president, yet we admire a cunning, guileful, and, on occasions that warrant it, even a ruthless, manipulative president.v Paradox #4
w We admire modesty, humility, and a sense of proportion, but most of our leaders have been vain and crafty. Most have aggressively sought power and were not concerned with ethics.
w One of the ironies of the American President is that those characteristics we condemn in one president, we look for in another.
w Carter was a Sunday school teacher and was criticized for not being “rotten enough”, something that LBJ was most know for.
w We admire President who are “above politics” and who are nonpartisan, but the presidency is the most political office in our system.v Paradox #5
w Presidents are never supposed to act with their eyes on the next election, yet their power demands they must
w They are supposed to be President of all the people, but are also asked to lead their individual party.
w We want a president who can unify us, yet the job requires taking firm stands, making unpopular or controversial decisions that necessarily upset and divide us.v Paradox #6
w Closely related to #4, we want the president to bring the country together with his decisions, although he often has to make unpopular decisions and set priorities which automatically polarize the nation.
w Our country is one of the few where its head of government is also its symbolic figurehead, usually the task is split between a monarch and prime minister.
w A president, as a creative executive leader, cannot help but offend certain interests if he makes decisions
w Supporters for FDR’s reelection made a sign which said “We love him for the enemies he has made.” (If you are doing your job, you will be hated)
w We expect our presidents to provide bold, visionary, innovative, programmatic leadership and at the same time to pragmatically respond to the will of public opinion majorities. (We expect presidents to lead and to follow)v Paradox #7
w We want principled leadership and flexible, adaptable leaders. Lead us, but also listen to us.
w We want change, but we resist being led too far in any one direction.
w Americans want powerful, self-confident presidential leadership. Yet we are inherently suspicious of leaders who are arrogant, infallible, and above criticismv Paradox #8
w We celebrate the gutsy presidents who make a practice of manipulation and pushing Congress. We perceive the great presidents to be those who stretched their legal authority and breathed down the necks of other branches (Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts)
w But there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, between firmness and inflexibility.
w What it takes to become president may not be what is needed to govern the nationv Paradox #9
w Ambition (in heavy doses) and stiff-necked determination are essential for a presidential candidate, but in excess these characteristics can produce a cold, frenetic candidate.
w We want a “fresh face”, an outsider, as a presidential candidate and a seasoned, mature, experienced veteran who knows the corridors of power and the back alleyways of Washington.
w The presidency is sometimes too strong, yet other times too weak.v In Conclusion
w Too strong given our worst fears of tyranny and our ideals of “government by the people.”, and with the power to wage nuclear war.
w Too weak when we talk about nuclear proliferation, the rising national debt, the budget deficit, poverty, and other problems yet to be solved.
w All of this doesn’t make the presidency incomprehensible.
w We can rid the Presidency of all paradoxes, and why would we want to?
w Executive Interpretation is the basis of citizen democracy
34: Thomas Cronin and Michael Genovese- The
Paradoxes of the American Presidency
Tiffany Holley, 2002
-Thomas Cronin and Michael Genovese use the concept
of paradox to explore the many images that
citizens hold of their president. Each image they describe is accompanied by a contrary image.
-"No aspect of society, no habit, custom, movement,
development, is without cross-currents"
-In life we are confronted with paradoxes for which we seek meaning.
-We admire presidential power, yet fear it.
-We yearn for the heroic, yet are also inherently suspicious of it.
-We demand dynamic leadership, yet grant only limited powers to the president.
-We want presidents to be dispassionate analysts and listeners, yet they must also be decisive.
-American presidency might be better understood as a series of paradoxes, clashing expectations
-Living with, even embracing, contradictions is a sign of political and personal maturity.
-The effective leader understands the presence of opposites.
-The aware leader knows when to bring in various sections, knows when and how to turn the
volume up and down, and learns how to balance opposing sections to achieve desired results.
-"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the
ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same
-Our expectations of, and demands on, the president are frequently so contradictory as to invite
two-faced behavior by our presidents.
-The founders purposely left the presidency imprecisely
-Presidential powers expand and contract in response to varying situational and technological
-Presidents and presidential candidates must constantly balance conflicting demands, cross
pressures, and contradictions.
-Perhaps some contradictions
are best left unresolved, especially as ours is an
imperfect world and our political system is a complicated one, held together by
-Paradox #1-Americans demand powerful, popular presidential leadership that solves the nation's
problems. Yet we are inherently suspicious of strong centralized leadership and especially the abuse
of power and therefore we place significant limits on the president's powers.
-Paradox #2- We yearn for the democratic "common
person" and also for the uncommon,
charismatic, heroic, visionary performance.
-We want our presidents
to be like us, but better than us.
-It is said the American people crave to be governed by a president who is greater
than anyone else yet not better than ourselves.
-Paradox #3- We want a decent, just, caring, and compassionate president, yet we admire a cunning,
guileful, and, on occasions that warrant it, even a ruthless, manipulative president.
-We may admire modesty,
humility, and a sense of proportion, but most of out great
leaders have been vain and crafty.
-One of the ironies of the American presidency is that those characteristics we
condemn in one president, we look for in another.
-Paradox #4- We admire the "above politics" nonpartisan or bipartisan approach, yet the presidency
is perhaps the most political office in the American system, a system in which we need a creative
entrepreneurial master politician.
often expected to be above politics in some respects while being
highly political in others.
-Paradox #5- We want a president who can unify us, yet the job requires taking firm stands, making
unpopular or controversial decisions that necessarily upset and divide us.
-We ask the president
to be a national unifier and a harmonizer while at the same
time the job requires priority setting and advocacy leadership.
-Paradox #6- We expect our presidents to provide bold, visionary, innovative, progmmatic
leadership and at the same time to pragmatically respond to the will of public opinion majorities; that
is to say, we expect presidents to lead and to follow, to exercise "democratic leadership"
-Lead us, but also
listen to us.
-We want our presidents to offer leadership, to be architects of the future and to
offer visions, plans, and goals. At the same time we want them to stay in close
touch with the sentiments of the people.
-We expect vigorous, innovative leadership when crises occur. Once a crisis is
past, however, we frequently treat presidents as if we didn't need or want them
-Paradox # 7- Americans want powerful, self-confident presidential leadership. Yet we are inherently
suspicious of leaders who are arrogant, infallible, and above criticism.
-We celebrate the
gutsy presidents who make a practice of manipulating and pushing
Congress. We perceive the great presidents to be those who stretched their legal
Authority and dominated the other branches of gov't.
-Paradox #8- What it takes to become president may not be what is needed to govern the nation.
-A candidate must be bold and energetic, but in excess these characteristics can
produce a cold, frenetic candidate.
-Paradox #9- The presidency is sometimes too strong, yet other times too weak.
-It often seems that our presidency is always too strong and always too weak.
-The presidency is always too strong when we dislike the incumbent.
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About Richard Posner
- Graduation from Harvard Law School
- Assistant to Commissioner Philip Elman of the Federal Trade Commission
- Stanford law associate professor
- 1981: Appointed as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Chief judge of that court from 1993 to 2000
- Posner weighs the damage dealt to America’s governmental institutions against the ability of those institutions to be able to smoothly run America.
- His theme is that many individuals were revealed as less than admirable people during the impeachment process of Clinton and that the organization involved acted badly.
Basics of the Impeachment
- January 21, 1998 – world learned that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was investigating charges that President Clinton had committed perjury and other crimes of obstruction of justice.
- It was only second impeachment in American history.
- Although the Senate trial ended on February 12, 1999, aftershock’s still continue.
Ex. Juanita Broaddrick’s rape charge and Lewinsky’s television interview.
Better of for Worse after the Incident?
- Certainly Better in Some Aspects
- People think more seriously about important issues.
- Contributed to a franker public discourse on matters of sex.
- Neutralized scandal-mongering because of the high percentage of politicians with ‘skeletons in their closets.’
- Things we have Learned
- Has shown the resilience of American Government. Its ability to continue.
- Despite the resilience, has shown the flaws. (media pundits, Supreme Court Justices, President, …)
- Professionalism is no guarantor of being able to cope with novel challenges.
- Too much law can be a bad thing.
-President’s Mystique was damaged
- Everyone knows the president is human like everyone.
- It is different when you know in riveting and exact detail the normally hidden
private life of the President.
- Other branches mystique damaged also
- Courts will be remembered for Morrison v. Olson and Clinton v. Jones.
- The senate is too politicized an organ of government to play a judicial role in the Presidential impeachment.
- Most abiding effect is the difficulty some will have taking the President serious.
- The shattering of the Presidential mystique has been a disaster that Clinton ought to
have by rights paid with his job.
- Americans have reached a level of sophistication where they realize that the political
and intellectual leaders are their peers and not their paragons.
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Impeachment means "accusation" or "charge"
The House has the "sole Power of Impeachment"
The Senate "tries" all impeachments
The three offenses that are impeachable:
The Constitution defines treason in Article III...
"Treason against the U.S, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."
Bribery is taking as well as the giving of a bribe.
Black points out that There is nothing wrong with receiving campaign contributions from a special interest group. He uses the example that one can take campaign contributions from dairy intrests...and one can raise the price of milk. However, is it right that one be paid by the dairy interest to raise the price of milk?
The third impeachable offense is a little more
broad and undeniable: "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" The difficulty
in defining "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" is that many impeachable
offenses may not be criminal. an example of this is using the presidency
for sexual gain...Black uses the example of a president moving to Saudi
Arabia so that he can have four wives.
While this isn't unlawful, it is "obviously wrong, to any man of ordinary honor."
he finally defines the third term as "offenses (I) which are extremely serious, (II) which in some way corrupt or subvert the political and governmental process, and (III) which are plainly wrong in themselves to a person of honor, or to a good citizen, regardless of words on the statute book."
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