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AP Gov The Presidency

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created 6 years ago by notecard

AP Gov The Presidency

updated 6 years ago by notecard

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Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

Presidents may be outsiders; prime ministers are always insiders, chosen by the members of the majority party in parliament

Presidents have no guaranteed majority in the legislature; prime ministers always have a majority

Divided government: one party controls the White House and another controls one or both houses of Congress


Evolution of the Presidency

Defining the chief executive was one of the most difficult tasks for the founding fathers

- Concerned about state authority being compromised

- Concerned that president would use corrupt
political practices to remain in power

Biggest concerns related to how the president was elected, and his relationship with Congress


Electoral College

Almost all states use a winner-take-all system

If no candidate won a majority, the House would decide the election

The Electoral College ultimately worked differently than expected, because the Founders did not anticipate the role of political parties


The First Presidents

The office was legitimated by men active in independence and Founding politics

Minimal activism of early government contributed to lessening the fear of the presidency

Relations with Congress were reserved: few vetoes; no advice from Congress to the president


Powers of the President

Potential for power found in ambiguous clauses of the Constitution—e.g., power as commander in chief, duty to “take care that laws be faithfully executed” (executive power)

Greatest source of power lies in politics and public opinion


The Power to Persuade

Presidents try to transform popularity into congressional support for their programs

Presidential coattails have had a declining effect for years

Popularity is affected by factors beyond anyone’s control – consider Bush’s approval ratings following the September 11th attacks


Figure 14.1 Presidential Popularity

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White House Office

Rule of propinquity: power is wielded by people who are in the room when a decision is made

Pyramid structure: most assistants report through hierarchy to chief of staff, who then reports to president

- Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton (late
in his administration)

Circular structure: cabinet secretaries and assistants report directly to the president

- Carter (early in his administration)

Ad hoc structure: task forces, committees, and informal groups deal directly with president
Clinton (early in his administration)


The Cabinet

Not explicitly mentioned in Constitution

Presidents have many more appointments to make than do prime ministers, due to competition created by the separation of power

Presidential control over departments remains uncertain—secretaries become advocates for their departments


Table 14.1: The Cabinet Departments

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Presidential Character

Kennedy: bold, articulate, amusing leader; improviser who bypassed traditional lines of authority

Nixon: expertise in foreign policy; disliked personal confrontation; tried to centralize power in the White House

Reagan: set policy priorities and then gave staff wide latitude; leader of public opinion

Clinton: good communicator; pursued liberal/centrist policies

George W. Bush: tightly run White House; agenda became dominated by foreign affairs following the September 11th attacks


The Veto Power

Veto message sent within ten days of the bill’s passage

Pocket veto (only before Congress adjourns at the end of its second session)

Congress rarely overrides vetoes

President does not hold line-item veto power


The President’s Program

Resources in developing a program include interest groups, aides and campaign advisers, federal departments and agencies, and various specialists

Constraints include public and congressional reactions, limited time and attention, and unexpected crises


Presidential Transition

Only fourteen of forty-one presidents have served two full terms (George W. Bush will be the 15th if he finishes his full 2nd term)

Eight vice presidents have taken office upon the president’s death


The Vice President

Prior to 2000, only five vice presidents won the presidency in an election without having first entered the office as a result of their president’s death

The vice president presides over Senate and votes in case of tie


The 25th Amendment (1967)

Allows vice president to serve as acting president if president is disabled

Illness is decided by president, by vice president and cabinet, or by two-thirds vote of Congress

The new vice president must be confirmed by a majority vote of both houses



Indictment by the House, conviction by the Senate

Presidential examples: Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon (pre-empted by resignation), Bill Clinton

Neither Johnson nor Clinton was convicted by the Senate


Constraints on the President

Both the president and the Congress are more constrained today due to:

- Complexity of issues

- Scrutiny of the media

- Greater number and power of interest groups

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