Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, March 31, 2014

 


 

Current events

 

 

Presidents and the Presidency

 


 

2. The Reality of the Presidency: Who are the Presidents?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. Presidents are only Human

 

 

 

 

 

    1). Presidentsí Personalities Vary

 

 

 

 

 

    2). Presidents' Political & Administrative Skills Vary

-Presidential Leadership Requires Management and Sales Skills

 

 Presidential Leadership

Selling Skills:

Strong


 

Weak

Management Skills
 

Strong

Charismatic
Presidents

Lincoln, 
Franklin Roosevelt

Administrative 
Presidents

Nixon, Bush

Weak

Political
Presidents

Reagan, Clinton 

Mediocre
Presidents

Carter 


 

3. The Reality of Presidential Powers: Using the Presidency is Difficult

 

A). Emergency Powers / Military Leadership

Opportunity:
- Can accomplish goals directly and quickly

 

Constraint:
- must use these powers briefly and successfully, or risk
substantial loss of support
 
 

 

B). Appointment

Opportunity:
Can appoint 2500 top administrators
when the President takes office

 

Constraints:
- the Senate must approve these appointments
- the President appoints only 1% of federal employees
- 2500 loyal and competent appointees are hard to find in three months
 
 

C). Reorganizing Government

Opportunity:
- Can try to improve bureaus' performance

 

Constraint:
- Congress must approve major reorganizations
- Reorganization may not change bureaus at all
 
 

D). The Power to Set The Legislative Agenda

Opportunity:
- To determine some of Congress's priorities

 

Constraint:
- Congress can change or ignore Presidential proposals
 

 
 

E). Party Leadership:

Opportunity:
- To rally the "party-in-government" and end gridlock

 

Constraint:
- American government was designed to make this difficult
- Legislators who now can "go it alone"
 
 

F). The Veto

Opportunity:
- To stop Congressional actions
- To change laws by threatening a veto
- Only 4% of Presidential vetoes are overridden

 

Constraint:
- The veto can only stop something from happening -
it is only a negative power


   
 

G). Publicity

 

Opportunity:
- To build personal popularity

 

Constraint:
-Popularity can swing widely
 

4. The Presidency as An Invitation To Tragedy

 

- We expect Presidents to Use the Presidency Actively, but

   the Presidency is hard to Use
- there are lots of constraints on Presidential Power

 

Presidents will use the tools that are easiest to use.

 

 

  Presidents can most easily control National Security and Publicity, so ... 
 

We tend to get

1). The Covert Presidency:

- Presidents are tempted to abuse "national security"
to achieve their goals
 

 

2). The Permanent Campaign:

- Presidents are tempted to manage their image
instead of improving public policy

 

 

 

 


 

Bureaucracy

 


The Mouse in the House

 

 

 

1. Why Is Controlling The Bureaucracy A Challenge?

 

    A. It's Big & Diverse
   

 

 

    B. Administrators have a lot of independence because they have discretion & expertise
 
 

 

 

    C. Civil Service makes it difficult to control individuals
 

 


 

    D. Political allies can and often do resist change in bureaucracy\

 

        In Congress

 

 

        Interest groups
 
 

 

 

2. Presidents Tried To Control the Bureaucracy by Creating Their Own Personal Bureaucracy

     The Executive Office Of The President (EOP)
 

 

 

3. Conclusion:  Presidents battle to control the bureaucracy, particularly when they are under stress