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Date Created: 09/11/14
The Powers of the President Set forth in Article II of the Constitution and of two sorts 1 Those he can exercise in his own right wo formal legislative approval 2 Those that require the consent of the Senate or of Congress as a whole Powers of the President Alone Serve as commander in chief of the armed forces Commission officers of the armed forces Grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses except impeachment Convene Congress in special sessions Receive ambassadors Take care that the laws be faithfully executed Wield the quotexecutive powerquot Appoint officials to lesser offices Powers of the President That Are Shared with the Senate Make treaties Appoint ambassadors judges and high officials Powers of the President That Are Shared with Congress as a Whole Approve legislation Woodrow Wilson wrote a book in 1884 Congressional Govemment in which he described the business of the president as quotusually not much above routinequot mostly quotmere administrationquot to succeed he only need obey Congress and stay alive 0 But he was overlooking some examples of enormously powerful presidents and was not attentive enough to the potential for presidential power to be found in the more ambiguous clauses of the Constitution as well as in the political realities of American life Powers have expanded 0 President39s authority as commander in chief has grown to encompass not simply the direction of military forces but also the management of the economy and the direction of foreign affairs gt army officer hands new president a suitcase with secret codesorders to permit the launching of nuclear weapons upon his inauguration 0 President39s duty to quottake care that the laws be faithfully executedquot has become one of the most elastic phrases in the Constitution Cleveland sent troops to stop a labor strike Eisenhower sent troops to integrate the school in Little Rock Arkansas 0 Greatest source of presidential power is found in politics and public opinion gt Congress has passed laws that confer on the executive branch broad grants of authority to achieve some general goals leaving it up to the president and his deputies to define the regulations and programs that will actually be put into affect The American people look to the president for leadership and hold him responsible for a large and growing portion of our national affairs public thinks wrongly that the presidency is the quotfirst branchquot of govemment The Of ce of the President Wasn39t until 1857 that the president was allowed to have private secretary paid for with public funs and it wasn39t until after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 that the president was given a Secret Service bodyguard O Wasn39t able to submit a single presidential budget until after 1921 Cleveland personally answered the White House telephone and Lincoln often answered his own mail Today president has large staffmuch different than before gt quotIf the president was once helpless for lack of assistance he now confronts an army of assistants so large that it constitutes a bureaucracy that he has difficulty controlling 0 Ability of a presidential assistant to affect the president is govemed by the rule of propinquity in general power is wielded by people who are in the room when a decision is made Presidential appointments can be classi ed in terms of the proximity physical and political to the president Three degrees of propinquity The White House Office the Executive Office and the cabinet The White House Office President39s closest assistants have offices in the White House usually in the West Wing Titles do not often reveal the functions they actually perform quotcounselquot quotcounselorquot quotassistant to the presidentquot quotspecial assistantquot quotSpecial consultantquot etc titles even can vary from one administration to the other 0 In general those who hold these positions oversee the political and policy interests of the president 0 Part of the presidential staff do not need to be confirmed by the Senate president can hirefire them at will Three ways president can organize their staff 0 Pyramid Structure most assistants report through a hierarchy to a chief of staff who then deals directly with the president i used by Eisenhower Nixon Reagan Bush Clinton 0 Circular Structure cabinet secretaries and assistants report directly to the president i Used by Carter 0 Ad Hoc Structure task forces committees and informal groups of friends and advisers deal directly with the president i Clinton used this brie y ii Ex Clinton39s health care policy planning was spearheaded not by Health and Human Services secretary Donna E Shalala but by First Lady Hilary Clinton and a White House adviser It is common for presidents to mix methods 0 Ex FDR altemated between the circular and ad hoc methods in the conduct of his domestic policy and sometimes employed a pyramid structure when dealing with foreign affairs and military policy 0 Each method has advantages and disadvantages Pyramid structure provides for an orderly ow of information and decisions but does so at the risk of isolating or misinforming the president Circular method has the virtue of giving the president a great deal of information but at the price of confusion and conflict among cabinet secretaries and assistants Ad hoc structure allows great exibility minimizes bureaucrat inertia and generates ideas and information from disparate channels but it risks cutting the president off from the govemment officials who are ultimately responsible for translating presidential decisions into policy proposals and administrative action All presidents claim that they are open to many sources of advice and some presidents try to guarantee that openness by using the circular method of staff organization 0 Difficulty of managing the large White House bureaucracy and of conserving their own limited supply of time and energy makes it necessary for them to rely heavily on one or two key subordinates 0 Many presidents such as Carter Reagan and Clinton have changedadjusted their methods of organization
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