Presidents and political parties
o Association with partisanship
Has modern presidency ___ partisanship?
■ Agenda setting
■ Rhetorical president
■ Little or no coattails
■ Divided government
● Is this good or bad?
○ It is by design that the house and senate are presidency all have separate constituencies, designed to have the ability to get things done and the ability to have the power to put things in place
■ Checks by factional power
■ By design
■ Feeds on self
If you want to learn more check out What is the correlation between product market and resource market?
o Relationship to party coalition of interest groups- agreement for cooperation among different political parties on common political agenda
Roosevelt with the New Deal
● In Roosevelt’s view, the party system, which was essentially based on state and local organizations and interests and therefore was suited to congressional primacy, would have to be transformed into a national, executive-oriented system organized on the basis of public issues. (political parties were more important to congress rather than the president so he wanted to change that)
● In this understanding Roosevelt was no doubt influenced by the thought of Woodrow Wilson. The reform of parties, Wilson believed, depended on extending the influence of the presidency. The limits on partisanship inherent in American constitutional government notwithstanding, the president represented the party’s “vital link of connection” with the nation:
○ “He can dominate his party by being spokesman for the real sentiment and purpose of the country, by giving the country at once the information and statements of policy which will enable it to form its judgments alike of parties and men.”
● To build national organizations rather than allowing patronage to be used merely to build senatorial and congressional machines. If you want to learn more check out Who are considered mestizos?
Don't forget about the age old question of What stereotype is broken by landfill harmonic?
Don't forget about the age old question of Is cognitive psychology evidence-based?
● Roosevelt’s purge campaign to remove conservative democrats from the house ● Roosevelt’s massive partisan effort began the process of transforming the parties from local to national and programmatic organizations. At the same time, the New Deal made partisanship less important. Roosevelt’s partisan leadership ultimately was based on forging a personal link with the public that would better enable him to make use of his position as leader of the nation, not just of the party that governed the nation.
● "The civil service reform that the Roosevelt administration carried out was another important part of the effort to replace partisan politics with executive administration. The original reorganization proposals of 1937 contained provisions to make the administration of the civil service more effective and to expand the merit system. Although the reorganization bill passed in 1939 was shorn of this controversial feature, Roosevelt found it possible to accomplish extensive civil service reform through executive action and other legislation. "
○ "the new practices created a new kind of patronage, “a sort of intellectual and ideological patronage rather than the more traditional partisan type.”" Lyndon Johnson
● Johnson’s attempt to create the Great Society marked a significant extension of programmatic liberalism and accelerated the effort to transcend partisan politics. Johnson, who came to Congress in 1937 in a special House election as an enthusiastic supporter of the New Deal, well remembered Roosevelt’s ill-fated efforts to guide the affairs of his party. He took Roosevelt’s experience to be the best example of the generally ephemeral nature of party government in the United States, and he fully expected the cohesive Democratic support he received from Congress after the 1964 election to be temporary. Johnson, like Roosevelt, looked beyond the party system toward the politics of “enlightened administration.” Don't forget about the age old question of What is ethnocentric fallacy?
● Tried to deemphasize the role of the traditional party organization ● Like Roosevelt, Johnson “had always regarded political parties, strongly rooted in states and localities, capable of holding him accountable, as intruders on the business of government.” Moreover, from the beginning of his presidency Johnson had envisioned the enactment of an ambitious program that would leave its (and his) mark on history in the areas of government organization, civil rights, conservation, education, and urban affairs. Such efforts to advance the New Deal goal of economic security and also to enhance the “quality of American life” necessarily brought Johnson into sharp conflict with established elements of the Democratic Party, such as the national committee
and local machines. As one Johnson aide put it, “Because of the ambitious reforms [LBJ] pushed, it was necessary to move well beyond, to suspend attention to, the party.” We also discuss several other topics like What is locke's position when it comes to the social contract theory?
● After a meeting with district party leaders from Queens, New York, White House domestic adviser Joseph Califano reported that “they were . . . totally unfamiliar with the dramatic increases in the poverty, health, education and manpower training areas.” The uneasy relationship between the Johnson presidency and the Democratic Party was particularly aggravated by the administration’s aggressive commitment to civil rights, which created considerable friction with local party organizations, especially, but not exclusively, in the South. It is little wonder, then, that when riots began to erupt in the cities in the mid-1960s, the president had his special assistants spend time in ghettos around the country instead of relying on the reports of local party leaders.
○ This created a lack of trust in the democratic party encouraged johnson admin to renew the new deal reform
● These working groups were made up of leading academics throughout the country, who prepared reports in virtually all areas of public policy. The specific proposals that came out of these groups, such as the Education Task Force’s elementary education proposal, formed the heart of the Great Society program. The administration took great care to protect the task forces from political pressures, even keeping their existence secret. Moreover, members were told to pay no attention to political considerations; they were not to worry about whether their recommendations would be acceptable to Congress and party leaders. The de-emphasis of partisan politics that marked the creation of the Great Society was also apparent in the personnel policy of the Johnson presidency.
● The rupture between the presidency and the party made it difficult to sustain political enthusiasm and organizational support for the Great Society. The Democrats’ poor showing in the 1966 congressional elections precipitated a firestorm of criticism about the president’s inattention to party politics, criticism that continued until Johnson withdrew from the presidential campaign in 1968. Yet Johnson and most of his advisers felt that they had to de-emphasize partisanship if the administration was to achieve programmatic reform and coordinate the increasingly unwieldy activities of government.
● The legacy of Johnson’s assault on party politics was apparent in the 1968 election. By 1966 Democratic leaders no longer felt that they were part of a national coalition. As 1968 approached, the Johnson administration was preparing a campaign task force that would work independently of the regular party apparatus. These actions greatly accelerated the breakdown of the state
and local Democratic machinery, placing party organizations in acute distress in nearly every large state. By the time Johnson withdrew from the election in March 1968, the Democratic Party was already in the midst of a lengthy period of decay that was accentuated, but not really caused, by the conflict over the Vietnam War.
● the expansion of presidential primaries and other changes in nomination politics that the commission initiated were a logical extension of the modern presidency. The very quietness of the revolution in party rules that took place during the 1970s is evidence in itself that the party system was forlorn by the end of the Johnson era. Those changes could not have been accomplished over the opposition of alert and vigorous party leaders. Richard Nixon
● Considering that the New Deal and Great Society were established by replacing traditional party politics with administration, it is not surprising that when a conservative challenge to liberal reform emerged, it entailed the creation of a conservative “administrative presidency.”
● the administrative reform program that was pursued after Nixon’s reelection, in which he concentrated executive authority in the hands of White House operatives and four cabinet “super secretaries,” was the culmination of a long-standing tendency in the modern presidency to reconstitute the executive branch as a formidable instrument of government.
● A strong Republican Party provided Reagan with the support of a formidable institution, solidifying his personal popularity and facilitating support for his program in Congress. As a result, the Reagan presidency was able to suspend the paralysis that had seemed to afflict the executive office in the 1970s, even though the Republicans still lacked control of the House of Representatives. In turn, Reagan’s popularity served the party by strengthening its fund-raising efforts and promoting a shift in voters’ party loyalties, placing the Republicans by 1985 in a position of virtual parity with the Democrats for the first time since the 1940s.
● he strengthened the Republican beachhead in the nation’s capital, solidifying his party’s recent dominance of the presidency and providing better opportunities for conservatives in the Washington community. Reagan’s landslide reelection in 1984 did not prevent the Democrats from maintaining control of the House of Representatives; nor did his plea to the voters during the 1986 congressional campaign to elect Republican majorities prevent the Democrats from recapturing control of the Senate. The 1988 election, in which Vice President Bush defeated the Democratic Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis, appeared to confirm
the limits of the Reagan revolution, reflecting in its outcome the underlying pattern that had characterized American politics since 1968: Republican dominance of the White House, Democratic ascendancy almost everywhere else. In fact, the 1988 election represented an extreme manifestation of the pattern. Never before had a president been elected while the other party gained ground in the House, the Senate, the state legislatures, and the state governorships. Never before had voters given a newly elected president fewer fellow partisans in Congress than they gave George H. W. Bush
● “Change we can believe in”: pledged to bring Americans together and overcome the raw partisanship that had polarized the Washington community for nearly two decades and that divided the country during George W. Bush’s eight years in office
● Just as the Bush–Cheney machine of 2004 resulted in a wide-ranging Republican victory, the Obama–Biden campaign of 2008 yielded not just a decisive triumph at the presidential level but also substantial gains in House and Senate races. This success was in large measure the result of voters’ unhappiness with Bush, who had mired the country in an unpopular war and a severe financial crisis. But Obama’s sophisticated grassroots campaign linked a vast network of volunteers, elicited enormous enthusiasm among potential supporters, and mobilized the highest voter turnout since 1968. Coming on the heels of the substantial increase in voter participation in the 2004 election, the 2008 campaign appeared to confirm the emergence of a national party system that was ameliorating the chronic voter apathy that had afflicted the presidency-centered administrative state.
● Congressional republicans near-unanimous resistance to the President’s main initiatives during his first term- an economic stimulus package, a financial reform program, and Obama’s signature accomplishment, a national healthcare bill, appeared to confirm the need to sustain a strong Democratic organization.
● When GOP recalcitrance continued amid the Obama administration’s willingness to compromise key features of his plan, most notably a public health care option that would compete with private providers, the president’s politics, hitherto “ruthlessly pragmatic,” took a decidedly partisan turn. The final push for health care reform featured Obama in a series of campaign-style rallies in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia, where an impassioned president repeatedly taunted Republicans for failing to take on the responsibility of expanding coverage and reducing health care costs. Beyond making public appearances at rallies and town hall meetings to whip up support for reforms among Democrats, Obama deployed Organizing for America to pressure
members of Congress into supporting the legislation. In the immediate aftermath of Obama’s multistate swing, health care reform was passed into law through the unorthodox—and esoteric—budget reconciliation process, which exploited the Democrats’ firm control of both chambers of Congress. Although the Republicans’ unwillingness to compromise gave eloquent testimony to their partisan approach to legislating, Obama’s leadership throughout the debate—and his acceptance of the use of the reconciliation process, which circumvented the filibuster rules of the Senate, to enact health care reform—revealed a partisan streak of its own. The New York Times concluded that “in the course of this debate, Mr. Obama has lost something. . . . Gone is the promise on which he rode to victory less than a year and a half ago—the promise of a ‘postpartisan’ Washington in which rationality and calm discourse replaced partisan bickering.” Shaped by a polarized party system, the signal legislative achievement of the president’s first two years became the only major entitlement program ever to become law without a single Republican vote.
○ Partisanship is increasing because of each party’s unwillingness to compromise and how legislation is one sided and becoming a battle ○ President’s that promise to pass bipartisan legislation and then use to his advantage his party majority of Congress will lose support of the other party and turn them against him
○ Republicans gained 63 seats in the house(the worst defeat for a President’s party since 1963) and regained control of the lower chamber after Obama health care was passed
● after Obama and congressional Republicans reached an impasse on fiscal policy that almost brought the government into default, the White House launched a “We Can’t Wait” initiative, dedicated to advancing policies that the president and his Democratic allies supported through unilateral executive action. During the final two years of his first term, Obama took measures that authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to implement greenhouse gas regulations that were stalled in the Senate; issued waivers that released states from many of the requirements of No Child Left Behind, which Congress had failed to reauthorize, only to bind them to the administration’s own education policies; and bypassed the usual confirmation process to make four recess appointments that Senate Republicans had been filibustering
● “This is important and we’re going to do whatever it takes”
Presidents and bureaucracy
○ Definition: a body of non-elective government officials
○ An administrative policy making group
o Problems in controlling
● Exercise control over the bureaucracy but issuing signing statements to legislation and shaping public policy
● Presidents take many actions throughout their terms of office to bring the bureaucracy more under control
● The bureaucracy grew and so did the presidency, evolved into a complex institution of the office of management and budget, the national security council, the white house domestic policy staff, the white house appointments unit and many others which are devoted to provide the president with the ability to put control on the bureaucracy
● bureaucracy is so central to public policy, Congress cares about the bureaucracy too. Indeed, this is putting it mildly. Congress knows that, unless it can shape the substance of bureaucratic action, the laws its legislators write and the benefits they attempt to bring home to constituents and powerful interest groups are worth little more than the paper on which they are written. Congress has formidable weapons to employ, moreover, in bringing its preferences to bear: it authorizes the agencies’ programs, supplies the agencies’ money, and oversees the agencies’ behavior.
● Struggle between congress and the president over who controls the bureaucracy ○ Not mentioned in the constitution
● However, presidents have the advantage to control
The president, congress and the dynamics of control
● For what an agency does depends on who controls it and what they want it to do ○ Organization does not matter if power falls into the wrong hands ○ The key is to ensure its own control and protect against the control of others
● The best way to establish control is
○ Specify the agency’s organization by establishing decision procedures, standards, time tables, personnel rules and structural features.
■ These rules serve to tell the agency what to do and how to do it ● As national leaders with a broad, heterogeneous constituency, presidents think in grander terms than members of Congress about social problems and the public interest, and they tend to resist specialized appeals.
● because presidents are held uniquely responsible by the public for virtually every aspect of national performance, and because their leadership turns on effective governance, they have strong incentives to seek centralized control of the bureaucracy, both for themselves and for their policy agendas.
○ They then try to insulate agencies from presidential influence
● All the formal restrictions mentioned here help to do that: by specifying the features of agencies’ organization—and thus the rules that ultimately guide their behavior—in excruciating detail, they help to insulate agencies from external control, including presidential control.
● Other restrictions are aimed directly at presidents themselves. The independent commission, for example, is a popular structural form that restricts president’s appointment and removal powers, as well as their budgetary and managerial reach. Similarly, legislation is sometimes crafted to limit the number of presidential appointees in an agency and to use civil service hiring procedures and professional credential requirements as protections against presidential control.
● Presidents are in charge of the executive branch, but it is hard for them to exercise genuine control
Presidential Discretion and Unilateral Power
● Presidents have advantages over Congress for the struggle of control ● Chief executive, so they have many opportunities to make unilateral decisions about structure and policy
○ Develop their own institutional capacity
○ Review or revise agency decisions
○ Coordinate agency actions
○ Make changes in agency leadership
○ Or impose their views on the bureaucracy
○ Then leave it to Congress to react
● Constitution- unilateral and executive power of the president
● If president’s perform their duties effectively, then they must have executive power (manage, coordinate, staff, collect information, plan, reconcile conflicting values)
● President’s have been pushing to claim the gray areas of the law, asserting their rights of control, and exercising them whether or not Congress agrees ● Congress has their own powers to exercise- such as following the orders ○ Separation of powers- president’s have their own power coequal to congress but not subordinate to it
● There are still goals and requirements for the laws the president executes ○ Congress writes those laws and can be as specific they want
■ It can specify policy and structure in enough detail to narrow
agency discretion and with it, the scope of presidential control
■ It can impose requirements that qualify and limit how presidents may use their powers- protecting members of independent
commissions from removal
● These powers cannot contain presidential power
○ Discretion is the foundation of their power and ultimate success so they can fight for the statuses that give them the most discretion and veto the ones that don’t
○ All legislation in some way is shaped by the presidential drive to increase administrative discretion
● legislators have their own incentive to craft bills that delegate considerable discretion to agencies and presidents in order to pursue their own goals. ○ Legislators’ main concern, politics aside, is for the effective provision of benefits to their constituents
○ Agency professionals then delegate how much discretion they want to allow
○ So presidents and agencies do the controlling- not congress
● although legislators and groups may try to protect their agencies by burying them in rules and regulations, a good deal of agency discretion will remain, and presidents cannot readily be prevented from turning it to their own advantage
○ They are centrally and supremely positioned in the executive, they have great flexibility to act, they have a vast array of powers and mechanisms at their disposal, they have informal means of
persuasion and influence, and they, not Congress, are the ones who are ultimately responsible for day-to-day governance. Even when
Congress directly limits a presidential prerogative, such as the removal power, presidents have the flexibility simply to shift to other avenues of discretionary action.
○ Congress can try to impose rules that would work in the owners best interests, but the manager still has his own agenda and will behave in his own best interests.
■ For bureaucracy and the president, Congress can try to structure things as much as it wants, but they will always have their own
● Presidents use the bureaucracy to forward his own policy
○ Congress does not hire presidents, nor structure their powers and incentives
● Late 1800s and early 1900s- Government became bigger and more bureaucratic harder to manage the national budget
● Fragmented organization was part of the problem
● The diffusion of control made it difficult for congress to establish priorities in its spending
● After WW1 pushed debt from 1 to 25 billion
● Creation of bureau of budget (BOB) authorized it to pull together the budget estimates of every agency into a single federal budget and made presidents responsible for improving the economy and efficiency of administration
○ Supposed to compensate for congress’ collective action problems and create a more coordinated structure for budget
● BOB expanded presidential power- collected agency budgets and revised them and this bring them into line with his own priorities and policy goals ○ Strengthened his capacity for directing national policy
● Presidents began to use budget to promote their own legislative goals (what gov should do and how they do it)
Presidents and Congress
o Advantages in agenda setting
Has the power shifted too much from Congress to the president?
○ Mandates are false
○ Term limit reduces accountability
○ Ideological congress
○ Moderate populace
○ National constituency
● Under the constitutional system of “separated institutions sharing powers,” to use Neustadt’s apt description, the president and members of Congress are compelled to share the responsibilities of governing.
○ But the Constitution also ensures that they will do so from fundamentally separate vantage points because they have different constituencies, terms of office, and responsibilities.
○ In theory, during an era of nationalized elections, a shared party affiliation between the president and members of Congress can help to bridge these otherwise distinct institutional perspectives. With control of enough seats in Congress, presidents should find it easier to legislate primarily through their party majority, exercising a form of “responsible party government” in which the voters hold both president and party responsible for policy outcomes.
● The same conditions that promote party government also encourage the minority party to unite in opposition to majority rule. This reduces the incentive for bipartisan action, and instead motivates presidents and their majority party to pursue policies that many moderate voters perceive as too extreme. If enough voters act on this perception, the resulting electoral backlash can cost the president and his (someday her) party their congressional majority.
● The Democrats’ successful effort to pass Obamacare in 2010 perfectly illustrates this dynamic. Despite promising to govern in a bipartisan fashion, Obama was forced to push health care legislation through both congressional chambers by
relying only on his party’s support; not a single Republican voted in favor of Obamacare. In midterm elections that fall, Democratic legislators who voted for Obamacare along with the $800 billion stimulus bill were punished by voters, and Democrats lost sixty-three seats and their House majority. Nor does this wave election appear to be an isolated event. The president’s party also lost significant seats in the 1994, 2006, and 2014 midterms—losses attributed in part to the public’s opposition to key portions of the president’s legislative agenda.
● Party labels did not always accurately reflect the ideological leanings of senators and reps so a president could never reply on full party support
● It is hard for the president to set his agenda if he does not have the support of congress, he might have to tweak bills in order to obtain majority support ● If you do something that is only in the benefit of the majority party, everyone else gets upset and you could possibly lose the majority seats
○ Clinton and Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate in 1994, two years into his presidency, and he faced unified Republican majorities in Congress thereafter. Bush’s Republicans lost their majority status in both congressional chambers after six years of his presidency—an outcome partly explained by the backlash to his effort to reform Social Security. And Democrat’s House majority disappeared in 2010 when voters punished them for supporting Obama’s economic stimulus and health care bills. They would lose their Senate majority four years later in an election in which Republicans sought to make the vote a referendum on Obama’s presidency.
● Focus on issues that can bridge the divide by attracting support from the other party- that’s how you can keep the congressional seats
● Although Bush did not veto a single bill during his first term, he issued twelve vetoes during his second term, all but one of them when Congress was controlled by the Democratic Party. Similarly, ten of Obama’s twelve vetoes occurred after Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections. Of course, the veto is a negative weapon, better at preventing action than at ensuring a positive outcome and thus not always an appropriate bargaining tool. However, the threat of a veto can move congressional deliberations closer to a president’s preferred outcome. To date, Trump has issued no vetoes, but that will surely change if Republicans lose their congressional majority.
● Limited number of issues that have bipartisan appeal and there is a difficulty in framing those issues to attract democratic and republican support ● Trump’s effort to go public to move democratic legislators and pursue his public agenda will most likely not help because of how disliked he is and how that will probably not change
● (unilateral directive) Whatever the final court ruling, however, the backlash to Trump’s efforts to institute a travel ban likely contributed to his historically low approval ratings. As Richard Neustadt warned, when it comes to making significant and enduring policy change and protecting the president’s sources of power, reliance on executive orders and other acts of “command” are a poor substitute for bargaining with Congress.
● The average first-term midterm losses for the president’s party dating back to Harry Truman in 1946 has been just under twenty-five seats in the House and slightly less than two seats in the Senate. This means Trump has little time to move his legislative agenda before lawmakers focus more on the upcoming elections than on working with the president. After the midterm elections, if history holds, Trump’s congressional support is likely to be even weaker.
● When presented the draft by Republican representative Eric Cantor, Obama rejected it, reportedly saying, “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won. So I think on that one I trump you.”99 Because Obama’s statement seemed to ignore the fact that the Republicans with whom he was negotiating had also won their elections to Congress, it likely did little to further his goal of creating a bipartisan atmosphere. Two years later Obama’s party had lost their House majority, in part due to public opposition to Obama’s stimulus bill.
● Bush said “If i had to do it all over again I would have pushed immigration reform as the first major initiative” because it had bipartisan support and might not have caused him to lose congressional republican majority
Presidents and Judiciary
o Use of litmus tests
o Qualification for nominations
● Should presidential politics enter SCOTUS?
■ People’s representative
■ Check on power of SCOTUS
■ Already political
● SCOTUS selection
● Interest groups and nomination
■ Designed as apolitical
■ Independent judiciary part of democracy
■ Ability to appoint is luck
The Presidency and the Judiciary
● The judiciary can make or break a president’s policy agenda so many modern president’s have tried to shape the courts in their own image and form alliances ○ Numerous democratic presidents have benefitted as the judiciary helped advance progressive causes and republican presidents emphasized the role of the courts to achieve important political gains
● A president who tries to avoid the courts proved unable to do so, and witness’ testimony in Jones vs. Clinton gave rise to events that led to his eventual impeachment by the house of reps
● President George W. Bush put his own stamp on the process, placing extremely conservative judicial nominees on the courts through the use of recess appointments. With some success the Bush administration pressured the courts including the supreme court to back its agenda on fighting the war for terrorism after 9/11. These republican presidents viewed the courts as crucial allies in policy battles waged against Congress.
○ President’s should not even have the power to appoint because they can manipulate the process this way and create too much power for
● Obama tried to create a more broad and diverse coalition that could pursue political ends without the help of the courts
● With Congress seemingly unwilling to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Donald Trump attempted to enact immigration policy on his own
through controversial executive orders that faced judicial scrutiny as well. The Trump administration’s initial immigration ban—by which the federal authorities limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days—expired before reaching the Supreme Court. Yet another version of the administration’s travel ban, issued on September 24, 2017, would have placed varying levels of restrictions on foreign nationals from eight different countries including Venezuela and North Korea. This latest form of the ban was still making its way through the lower courts at the time this book went to press. Few doubt that one or more of the administration’s travel bans will eventually end up before the Supreme Court. Once there, Justice Neil Gorsuch will be in a position to exert considerable influence over their fate
● For the president, the judicial branch offers opportunity as well as danger to his policy agenda. You either have to win over the courts or risk your agenda. ● The judiciary can validate the president’s most controversial actions and bestow them upon a measure of credibility
Presidential campaigns and the judiciary
● Even before they take office, presidents must address the way in which they hope to shape the judiciary
● the recently formed Republican Party used the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford as an effective target of Northerners’ frustrations during the election campaign of 1860. The Dred Scott decision invalidated the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had divided U.S. territories into free and slave states. In the process, the Court aggressively articulated the theory that slaves were the personal property of their owners.
○ Running on the Republican ticket, Abraham Lincoln alleged that the timing and substance of Dred Scott pointed to a conspiracy by the Democrats to nationalize slavery. According to political scientist Donald Grier
Stevenson, the 1860s were the nadir of Supreme Court influence, largely because Lincoln’s 1860 victory placed the mostly Democratic Court on the losing side of the presidential election.
● Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency in 1968 marked the first concerted attempt by a major-party candidate in the twentieth century to place the Supreme Court and its recent rulings squarely before the voters. Blaming the Warren Court and its “pro-felon” decisions such as Miranda v. Arizona for the civil unrest sweeping the country, Nixon promised that he would appoint only conservative “law and order” judges who would “strictly interpret” the Constitution and not “make law.” Nixon’s campaign strategy made political sense, especially in the South, where resentment against civil rights and other liberal initiatives had spilled over into resentment against the Warren Court. By securing a Republican
plurality in the South for the first time in history, Nixon showed that when legal issues were carefully couched in the right electoral rhetoric, they could make a difference.
○ Presidents should not have this power because it is easy to abuse and makes them too powerful because they can then gain control over
congress as well… defeats the concept of checks and balances
● Court related rhetoric is now considered an essential aspect of every presidential campaign, it apparently sways relatively few voters
○ Still, voters continue to inquire as to candidates’ positions on those issues related to the judiciary. Since 1968, all presidential candidates have provided their views on the right to abortion (all Republican candidates have opposed the right; Democrats have supported it),
affirmative action (Republicans oppose; Democrats support with
qualifications), and the “philosophy of judging” that the candidate favors (Republicans tend to support “strict interpretation”; Democrats support the notion of a “living Constitution”)"
● Winning presidents tend to keep their promises on their implications for judicial selection
○ As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama said he hoped to appoint judges who would be “sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless.” Three years earlier, that had been the basis of Senator Barack Obama’s vote against John Roberts’ nomination as chief justice. Now as president, it provided some indication of his commitment to nominate more liberal justices to the high court. Obama’s selections of Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Court in 2009 and 2010,
respectively, offered proof that his commitment to reverse conservative gains on the court matched his rhetoric in at least this one respect. Presidential Appointments to the Supreme Courts
● The appointments have changed
○ Presidencies have grown which means there are more people helping the president with choosing who he should nominate
Presidential appointments to lower federal courts
● A president can expect to fill 40 to 50 vacancies on the federal bench each year ● Litmus test: questions asked of a potential candidate which would determine whether or not they would be proceeded with an appointment or nomination ○ Qualifications of the intentions of candidates which are looked at by presidents
● Obama appointed more women and hispanics than any of his predecessors
○ The obama judges are the most diverse group in US history
Presidential influence on the judicial process
● Presidents have sought to gain through the courts what they could not gain elsewhere
○ Congressional inertia
○ Interest group inertia
○ Or white house fears that legislative solutions would be harmed by Congress
To be most successful, you should seek alliance with the courts, integrating a litigation strategy as well as the strategic use of judicial appointments as an approach to national policy making. Over the long run presidents will be able to stock the lower courts with jurists who are most receptive to the president’s initiatives
● Components- (what you want to observe when spectacles occur) ○ Audience- to whom
■ Talks initially to the voting public (selectorate, the real decision makers)
● Talks to their supporters in the public
● The politically active public (go to rallies, sign petitions, etc.)
○ Message- what is the idea, what is the action
■ Idea or action
■ The symbolism is always a simplification
■ Presidential image
■ The president can do these things
o Contribution to agenda setting
● The presidency as spectacle
○ Spectacle: a symbolic event
■ A narrow focus, limited set of responses
■ Gestures that carry moral significance
○ The media keeps the president in front of the public
■ Makes it visual and dramatic, promotes stories
○ The public may not know about policy but they are aware of everything the president is doing
● The spectacle makes the president appear exceptionally decisive, tough, courageous, prescient, or prudent.
○ Whether the president is in fact all or any of these things is obscured. What matters is that he or she is presented as having these qualities in magnitudes far beyond what ordinary citizens can imagine themselves to possess.
○ The president must appear confident and masterful before spectators whose very position as onlookers denies them the possibility of mastery. ● "The presidential qualities most likely to be magnified will be those that contrast dramatically with the attributes that drew criticism to the previous president. Reagan, following a president perceived as weak, was featured in spectacles that highlighted his potency. George H. W. Bush, succeeding a president notorious for his disengagement from the workings of his own administration, was featured in spectacles of hands-on management. Clinton, supplanting a president who seemed disengaged from the economic problems of ordinary Americans, began his administration with spectacles of populist intimacy. George W. Bush, replacing a president notorious for personal indiscipline and staff disorder, organized a corporate-style White House where meetings ran on time and business attire was required in the Oval Office. Obama, coming after a president disparaged as intellectually incurious and ideologically stubborn, emphasized his openness to dialogue and pragmatism. Trump, following a president criticized for excessive deliberation and caution, has disdained the need for expert knowledge and dismissed the risks in impulsive decision-making. "
● The presidents aides and advisors help enhance the spectacle and certain qualities
○ "A member of the team can call too much attention to himself or herself, upstaging the president. This was one of the disruptive practices that made the Reagan White House eager to be rid of Secretary of State
Alexander Haig, and it was at the core of the short-lived tenure as communications director of Anthony Scaramucci in the Trump White House. A team member can give away important secrets to the audience; Budget Director David Stockman’s famous confessions about supply-side economics to a reporter for the Atlantic jeopardized the mystique of economic innovation that the Reagan administration had created in 1981. Worst of all, a member of the team can, inadvertently, discredit the central
meanings that a presidential spectacle has been designed to establish. The revelations of Budget Director Bert Lance’s questionable banking practices deflated the lofty moral tone established at the beginning of the Carter presidency."
● The white house hopes that the audience watching the spectacle is as impressed by gestures as by results
● Gestures overshadow results and facts
● A successful spectacle must be more powerful than any of the other facts on which it draws
○ They cannot be completely scripted in advance
■ Unexpected things will happen during spectacles
■ If the white house is skillfull, it can capitalize on those events by enhancing the spectacle
■ If not, it can undermine it
● the presidential variety often has more than one audience. Its primary purpose is to construct meanings for the American public. But it also can direct messages to those whom the White House has identified as its foes or the sources of its problems.
○ In 1981, when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) because they engaged in an illegal strike, he presented to the public the spectacle of a tough, determined president who would uphold the law and, unlike his predecessor, would not be pushed around by grasping interest groups. The spectacle also conveyed to organized labor that the White House knew how to feed popular skepticism about unions and could make things difficult for a labor movement that became too assertive.
● spectacle production and policy production are fundamentally different: Spectacle deploys gestures to enhance the president’s image, while policymaking employs means to solve problems affecting others.
○ As the cases of Obama and Trump suggest, a balance between spectacle and policy can be difficult to achieve. A president can pay a political price for focusing on policy while slighting spectacle; but the political price can also be high when a dramatic spectacle cannot conceal the weaknesses of presidential policies.
● The triumph of spectacle: Ronald Reagan
○ Marked by failures and success
○ Basis of success was the character of RR
■ Was portrayed in movies and tv made him comfortable with the spectacles
■ Presented a multifaceted character, funny yet powerful, ordinary yet heroic, individual yet representative
○ Came into office after jimmy carter and projected more potency than him
○ His administration featured a number of spectacles in which Reagan displayed his decisiveness, forcefulness, and will to prevail. The image of masculine toughness was played up repeatedly. The American people saw a president who, even though in his seventies, rode horses and exercised vigorously, a president who liked to quote (and thereby identify himself with) movie tough guys such as Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone. Yet Reagan’s strength was balanced nicely by his amiability; his aggressiveness was rendered benign by his characteristic one-line quips. The warm grin took the edge off the toughness, removed any intimations of callousness or violence.
○ Came into office at an anxious time, was able to reassure the public with his character
○ He told Americans that the Vietnam War was noble rather than appalling, that Watergate was forgotten, that racial conflict was a thing of the distant past, and that the U.S. economy still offered the American dream to any aspiring individual. Reagan (the character) and America (the country) were presented in the spectacles of the Reagan presidency as timeless, above the decay of aging and the difficulties of history.
● All spectacle all the time- Trump
○ His rallies resembled rock concerts
○ Obsessed with his own image
■ Focuses on spectacle rather than policymaking and the administration’s policy agenda
■ Inability to grasp any policy ideas
○ “My use of media is not presidential, its MODERN PRESIDENTIAL” ○ Sent messages to his reporters rather than news
○ Strikes back at news organizations who call him out
Presidents and Media
Has social media brought the president closer to the people? ● Pro (closer)
○ Illusion of proximity
○ Immediacy- you can answer immediately
○ Bond- creates this close bond
● Con (further)
○ Actually more distant
○ More choice in voices
○ Self selecting
○ More informed (?)
○ New audience
Has this helped or hurt the American President?
○ Direct platform
○ Target on ‘base’
○ Bypass traditional media
○ Set agenda
○ Diminishes office
○ Control of message
○ Strategy over policy
○ Backlash- traditional media, opponents
o Changes with new media
o Elements of persuasive power
● The president and the media
○ The president and media rely on each other but they have different priorities
○ When presidents have strong public support they are more likely to persuade their officials to back their proposals
■ To generate that support they must rely on news media
○ Media need presidents to draw audiences
○ media people choose to cover events that attract audiences.
■ This produces a particular definition of “news.” News is something immediate—a change from what usually happens. News requires drama, conflict, threat, or fear—similar to the types of stories that attract ratings on entertainment media. News is something we can personalize; journalists report about unemployment by opening with the story of one individual who has been laid off, because that interests audiences more than the impersonal concept of
○ President’s news are the ice cream parlors while the federal reserve’s news are the broccoli parlors
○ The president is an individual, whereas the other major figures of the federal government—Congress, the bureaucracy, and the judiciary—are institutions with large numbers of legislators, employees, and judges.
■ A story about a person, especially a familiar individual such as the president, draws people’s attention more easily than a story about congressional committees or legislative oversight. Presidents deal with dramatic matters every day. Theirs is the hand that controls the nuclear codes. Their elevation to the presidency means that a sizable part of the population considers them interesting and important. Americans have bought millions of books in recent decades about presidents’ political maneuvering and personal relationships.For all these reasons, media coverage focuses on the president more than on any other individual in American politics.
○ Presidents typically invest major effort into influencing the nature of their coverage. They hire communications directors and press secretaries. They urge other members of the administration to speak to reporters on the president’s behalf, while trying to snuff leaks of information the president doesn’t want publicized. The volume and tone of their coverage can affect their electability and public approval because many Americans are too little interested in politics to seek out alternative sources of political information. Yet the media spotlight can become uncomfortably hot. Especially in these polarized times, commentators and bloggers can build a lucrative following by stoking hostile reactions to a president’s decisions. Journalists’ focus on drama and conflict often leads them to look for disputes between presidents and congressional leaders, strains among White House staffers, and problems in a president’s personal life. The extensive leaks from within the Donald Trump administration attracted massive coverage, not necessarily because media people wanted to
damage Trump but rather because the leaked information attracted readers—and Trump’s condemnation of those leaks attracted even more. ○ Presidents care about their image and journalists care about their audience
○ Presidents still rely heavily on their persuasive power to deal with other elected and appointed officials
● The new media have brought the president closer to the people ○ Roosevelt realized that when people turned on their radios they were allowing him into their home- made it more personal
○ The new media brings people closer to the president
■ For ex. Barack obama celebrated his 54th birthday in 2015 on twitter and citizens were able to tweet at him their own personal
wishes so you could connect with him in a virtual way that was not possible before social media
○ TV is an old medium in which only one person can communicate a message to thousands of people in the way the president wants to, with social media permit a wide range of interactions to develop a deeper bond
○ Tv was successful in going public to market plans and shape the public agenda and possibly move public opinion
○ Social media could reach out to and connect with individual constituents ○ Social capital is key to a virtuous cycle where strong relationships engender trust and cooperation, leading to greater public engagement and support for political institutions and individuals like the president ■ These were absent in the television age, support for the
government decreased and so did political participation
■ Regardless of how scripted the appearances were, tv news
coverage dwelled on the negative scheming ways of the president and showed their motivations for power
■ Of all the presidents between 1964-2000 only Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton left office with approval. The electorate discarded the other 5.
○ The internet is built on architecture to build relationships
○ Mybarackobama.com created a way for voters to create their own campaign experience, voters could take the campaign into their own hands and and build their own networks with other supporters
■ Reached out to people in their own social networks to convince them to support obama, raise money and even plan campaign
■ Supporters could become personally invested in the campaign
○ Obama has social media accounts and on one posted “I am Barack obama president of the US- ask me anything” so people asked him questions for about an hour and a half and he was able to respond to them personally
○ The open nature of the internet breaks down barriers and strengthens the relationship between politicians and citizens
○ Social networks have “trust filters”- ordinary individuals can act as gatekeepers for the information others post a role that used to be prohibited to only newspaper editors and tv broadcasters
○ Once trust is established, the president is able to influence those who open their networks to him
○ Social capital: the trust created through social media
○ Effective social media connections require ordinary citizens to feel empowered to act on their own, and that could spell difficulty for a president who is not secure enough to relinquish top-down control of the media. - trump
○ Social media can create a bond so strong with the president to inspire voting, involvement in policy campaign, and countless birthday tweets ○ Social media can also inspire voting against a president, for example Trump’s dumb tweets shocked the world with how careless and immature they are- can inspire voting against him