Discussion 2: The Modern Presidency Becomes An Imperial Presidency?
Please note: This discussion will be graded and you need to post twice: one original post and one post responding to someone else. Please cite pages and consider using direct quotes from the reading to support your points. Be considerate in your responses to your peers (and follow the norms of ‘netiquette’ listed in the introduction module). Please post both of your posts by the end of the day on July 29.
Schlesinger argues that the power of the modern presidency has moved in dangerous directions in contrast to the idea of “checks and balances.” Much of his argument is about the potential power of the executive branch to act independently of the other branches. In theory, this gives the president a lot of opportunity to shape government policies.
Is Schlesinger’s analysis convincing? Please explore that question while thinking about at least one of the following topics:
A. What does Schlesinger see as the historical context leading to an imperial presidency? Would this still apply today?
B. What formal powers of the presidency might allow the president to act without the other branches?
C. How does this Schlesinger perspective build on or challenge any of the other presidency scholars we have already encountered (Laski, Rossiter, Neustadt)? Could any of their ideas challenge his views?
D. Looking at Chapter 6 on the executive branch by Pika et al. and/or at their discussion of military force in the assigned section of Chapter 10, do you see any examples/details that either fit with or potentially challenge Schlesinger’s ‘imperial presidency’ perspective?
274 The President and the Government
151. Arnold, “Bill Clinton and the Institutionalized Presidency,” 31.
152. Evan Thomas, “Acquittal: The Inside Story,” Newsweek, February 22, 1999, 24-31; and Kirk
Victor and Carl M. Cannon, “Promise and Peril,” National Journal. January 23,1999,170-175.
153. Jack N. Rakove, “Taking Prerogative out of the Presidency: An Originalist Perspective,” Presiden-
tialStudies Quarterly 37 (March 2007): 85.
154. Rudalevige, “The Contemporary Presidency.”
155. Owens, “A Post-Partisan President,” UO.
156. Sinclair, “Congressional Leadership in Obama’s First Tvro Years”; Robert Draper, Do Not Ask
What Good We Do: Inside the House of Representatives (New York: Free Press, 2012), xv-xviii.
157. This is the central theme ofPeterson’s Legislating Together, in which he advocates a “tandem insti-
tutions” perspective on presidential-congressional relations.
President Trump displays a newly signed executive order in an early 2017 Oval Office ceremony. Trump issued more than thirty
such orders during his first one hundred days in office.
mericans commonly think of the president as the “chief executive” of the
federal government, held responsible for its many activities and responsi-
•bilities. As the federal government assumed more powers ia the twentieth
century, popular expectations rose and presidents became the focal point for citi-
zens’ blame or credit for bad or good times. Activist executives m the twentieth
century—Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson in
the forefront—heightened this image of strong presidential leadership by launch-
ing major policy initiatives. Citizens imagine the president directmg the activities
of millions of federal officials. But presidents do not fully control the executive
branch. Even followmg the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington,
D.C., in 2001, when the nation seemed most unified. President George W. Bush
struggled to be master of his own house.
In the wake of9/U, President Bush and his administration took responsibility
for preventing another terrorist attack and for minimizing the consequences if one
should occur. To accomplish this goal. Bush signed legislation in November 2002
276 The President and the Government
creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As he declared, “We’re
taking historic action to defend the United States and protect our citizens from
the dangers of a new era.”1 The mammoth new department consolidated twenty- .|
two agencies and units from other departments into a smgle entity with about
170,000 workers, making it the federal government’s third biggest department.
This move was the largest single government reorganization since the creation of
the Department of Defense (DOD) in 1947.
Bush also proposed a new pay system for DHS that would replace the one cre-
ated in 1949. In Bush’s view and that of many other reformers, the old system
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