Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, April 2, 2014



Current events



Presidents and the Presidency



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



G). Publicity


- To build personal popularity


-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








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. The Executive Office Of The President (EOP): The president's bureaucracy for controlling the regular bureaucracy



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





The Clash of Institutions and the Abuse of Presidential Power

For a Watergate Chronology, click here


"Watergate" Was A Different Kind Of Political Corruption


The Setting: Deep Divisions In The Nation, 1968-1969


Richard Nixon

Nixon increasingly depended on White House loyalists, especially

Haldeman and Ehrlichman ("The Palace Guard)

The Motive: National Security Leaks

- June 1971: The New York Times and other papers begin publishing
The Pentagon Papers (read excerpts) leaked by Daniel Ellsberg

The Weapons: Surveillance And Plugging The Leaks

The Plumbers Unit is set up in the White House.


The Crime and The Coverup

June 17, 1972: Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.


Washington Post reporters begin to investigate

April 30, 1973: Haldeman, Ehrlichman resign; White House counsel John Dean is fired



Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox begins an investigation

Senate Watergate Committee begins hearings



July, 1973: Hearings show that Oval Office conversations were taped;

The Senate Watergate Committee and Cox each subpoena the tapes;


October 20, 1973: Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon orders Cox fired


April, 1974: Nixon releases written transcripts of the tapes, with words deleted;

the House Judiciary Committee, considering impeachment, demands the original tapes


July 27, 1974: The House Judiciary Committee votes for the first article of impeachment.



August 8, 1974: Nixon resigns



Lesson: The Continuing Temptation of the Covert Presidency