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PSC 305: Presidency & Congress

Students' Outlines of

Nivola & Rosenbloom (eds) Classic Readings in American Politics, 3/e

Section VII: Presidency

Compiled by Jeremy Lewis, revised 8 Mar. '16, with new outline..
28: Hamilton, "Federalist 69"
29: Wildavsky, "Two Presidencies"
30: Neustadt, "Power to Persuade" 
31: Jones, "Separating to Govern: American Way"
32: Kearns, "Lyndon Johnson & American Dream"


Nivola, #28 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 69: 
by Walt Cobb, Spring 2016 (others below)

- Outlines the design of the Presidency according to the Constitution
- Executive Authority is to be vested in a single Magistrate 
- President is to be different than a Monarch
- Compares the Presidency to the British Monarchy and the Governor of New York on multiple occasions
I. President will be elected every 4 years

- President is eligible for reelection as often as the people deem him worthy
- Presidency is not hereditary unlike the British Monarchy
-  Governor of New York is elected every 3 years
II. President can be impeached from office
- Liable to be impeached, tried, and convicted for Treason, Bribery, etc.
- Whereas British Monarch is sacred and inviolable 
III. President has the power to Return a Bill Passed by Congress for Reconsideration 
- However, if congress returns the bill it becomes law
IV. Commander- In- Chief
- Authority over Army and Navy
- Unlike monarch, the President cannot declare war 
- Only has control over militia if they are called up for national service whereas the Gov. of NY and British Monarch have control over entire military in their territory
V. President may grant Reprieves and Pardons
- Cannot pardon impeachment
- Governor of NY has the power to pardon in all cases including impeachment, only exceptions are treason and murder
VI. President has the power to make Treaties
- Only with the advice and consent of the senate provided 2/3rds of the Senators present concur
- Monarch of GB is the sole diplomatic figure of the country and needs no consent to make treaties


by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008

  • This Federalist Paper ‘explains the constitutional design of the presidency’. 
    • Hamilton emphasizes the ‘limitations on presidential power and the extent to which presidential actions will depend on congressional participation.’ 
    • First, the executive will be a single individual, who is to be elected for four years and can be re-elected if the people find him worth. 
    • Second, the president can be impeached and tried on the conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and be removed from office. 
    • Third, the President possesses veto power which can be overturned by the legislative branch. 
    • Fourth, he is the Commander in chief of the arm and navy, and the militia of the several States which can be called into the service of the union. 
    • Fifth, he holds the power to pardon and reprieve. 
    • Sixth, he has the power to make treaties—with the advice and consent of the Senate. 
    • Seventh, the President can appoint and receive ambassadors, public ministers, judges, and general all offices of the U.S. established by law. 
  • All of these responsibilities are highlighted by the ways in which the system protects the people against the monarchial power of the British King and how there are established limitations within the judicial and legislative branches that assure them against their government. 

  •  

     
     

    28: Alexander Hamilton, "Federalist 69"
    by Rick Riley, 2008

    I. Hamilton’s purpose for Federalist 69
       A. Opponents to the Constitution claim that the proposed Head of State (the President) would be as powerful as the King of England. (Americans had just fought to free themselves from the rule of that King, they didn’t want another King.)
      B.  Many Americans feared Constitution would give to much power to a smaller number of individuals and the National Government.
      C. Hamilton sells the proposed executive to the American people as an executive with limited power and contrasts the President to the King of England and even State Governors that had less limits on their power than the President did.
    II. Powers of the President according to Hamilton
         A.   Can stop a bill unless Congress approves it w/ ¾ vote.
         B.   Commander in chief of army, navy (at all times), and militias of the states (at certain times)
         C.  Pardons and reprieves in all cases except Impeachment
         D.  Can convene both houses of Congress in extraordinary circumstances
         E.    Commission all officers of the United States.
         F.   Recommend measures of expediency to Congress
         G. can nominate Ambassadors, Public Ministers, Supreme Court Justices and any other officers not mentioned in the Constitution W/ Advice and Consent of Senate.
    III. President V. King of England
          A. King: Hereditary, Sacred, not questionable, rules for whole lifetime.  President: up for election every 4 years, subject to Impeachment, amendable to personal punishment and disgrace.
          B. King:  Can command and Raise Armies and declare war. President: Commander in chief but can only fund army w/ Congressional Approval and cannot declare war. 
          C. King:  has vast control of the economy.  President: Cannot make rules for nation’s Commerce.
          D. King:  Head and Supreme Governor of Nat’l Church.  President: No spiritual authority.
         E. King: Can dissolve Parliament for as long as he wishes and when he wishes.  President:  Can only dissolve Congress in certain situations of disagreement about the time of adjournment.
         F. King has unlimited appointment powers.
    IV. Powers Held by State Governors and not by the President.
          A.  Impeachment:  Easier to Impeach President than Gov.s of NY., VA., Del.
          B.  Pardons: Gov. Of NY could pardon in Cases of Impeachment (but not in Murder or treason.)  President cannot pardon an impeachment.
          C. Gov of NY can dissolve legislature more often than the President.
          D. Gov. of NY can appoint with consent of a Council of himself and four state senators.  President- Advice and consent of Senate.
    V. Conclusion: President obviously has less power than King of England.  Has fewer limits to his power that state Governors in some respects but has more limitations in some respects. 

     

    Nivola, #29 Aaron Wildavsky, The Two Presidencies: 
    by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008

  • Wildavsky argues that there are two presidencies: 
    • one which deals with domestic affairs and one that deal with defense and foreign policy. 
    • Being more effective in foreign affairs stems from Congressional power over the domestic agenda, when he usually finds the support he needs in the foreign arena. 
    • Also, there is more persistence and clarity within the domestic arena—Presidents can be either for or against a specific issue and only modest changes can be made to them. 
    • Contrastingly, the world is always changing and their policies towards it are always changing, therefore Presidents have to focus more of their energy there. 
  • Wildavsky argues that it takes a great crisis for a President to be successful in domestic politics; therefore Presidents fail more often on the domestic front than on the international front. 
    • In relation to this, the influence that the U.S. holds on the international stage helps Presidents to be more successful, creating a higher priority for American executives because their decisions there are considered irreversible and important. 
    • In contrast to this, domestic policies are considered narrow and experimental. 
    • The difference is also noted by the amount of power the executive is given in dealing with foreign affairs versus domestic (Congress holds much more power in domestic issues, while the president has war and negotiation powers when dealing with other countries). 
    • The public also depends more on the President for foreign affairs than they are on domestic issues, while Congress and interest groups hold influence over domestic issues. 
  • Wildavsky argues that ‘some analysts say that the success of Presidents in controlling foreign policy decisions is largely illusory.’ It is only achieved by anticipating the actions of others and keeping from proposing anything they would think to oppose. 
    • He also claims that the stakes are a lot higher on the international stage, and because of this, domestic issues can fall to domestic organizations. 
    29: Aaron Wildavsky, "Two Presidencies" (1966)
    (Woojung Lee, 2002), another is below
    1. Two presidencies in U. S.
      1. One for domestic affairs and the other is for defense and foreign policy.
      2. When there is problem with
        1. Domestic policy: need to get congressional support
        2. Foreign affairs: can almost always get support for policies
      3. Domestic v. Foreign policy
        1. Relatively simple to make minor adjustments vs. cannot or do not know how to alter since the world has become a highly intractable place with a whirl of forces.
    2. The Record of Presidential Control
      1. From the end of 30’s, Presidents have often been frustrated in their domestic programs, i.e. F. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy
      2. In foreign policy, there has not been a single major issue on which Presi. have failed.
      3. From 1948-64, shows that Presi. have significantly better records in foreign and defense matters than in domestic policies.
    3. World Events and Presidential Resources
      1. How does the Presi. manage his control of foreign and defense policy?
        1. It does not reside in the constitutional power, has been changed since 1945.
        2. The awareness of the possibility of nuclear war
        3. Vastly increase our rate of interaction with most other nations.
        4. The increasing speed of events in the int’nal arena.
        5. The perception that decisions in foreign affairs is irreversible.
    4. The Power to Act
      1. As Commander-in Chief to move troops: once they have committed American forces, it is difficult for Congress or anyone else to alter the course of events.
      2. Can use executive agreement instead of treaties
      3. Far greater ability to obtain info on abroad through Dept. of State and Defense.
    5. Competitors for Control of Policy
      1. The public
        1. General public is much more dependent on Presi. in foreign affairs.
        2. Pres. Popularity rises after he takes action in a crisis.
        3. Problem of public opinion
          1. Hard to get operational policy directions
          2. Difficult to interpret
      2. Special Interest Groups
        1. The group structure is weak, unstable, and thin in foreign policy matters i.e. matters in Africa and Asia
        2. The strongest interest groups are probably the ethnic associations
      3. The Congress
        1. A self denying ordinance: they do [not] think it is their job to determine the nation’s defense policies.
        2. The congressional appropriations power has tended to reduce its effectiveness since the end of WWII.
        3. However, there have been occasion when individual legislators or committees have been influential.
      4. The Military
        1. The modern tech. and int’nal conflict increased the defense budget.
        2. The military have not been united on any major matter of defense policy.
      5. Military Industrial Complex
        1. Do not control policy and budgeting decisions, nor is there much evidence that they actually try.
      6. The State Dept.
        1. Modern Presi. expect the State Dept. to carry out their policies.
        2. When the Presi. knew what he wanted, he got it.
        3. The growth of a special WH staff to help expresses their need for assistance and their refusal to rely completely on the regular executive agencies.
        4. Remain in control of their staff
    6. How complete is the Control?
      1. The success of Presi. in controlling is largely illusory
        1. Anticipated reaction:it is achieved by anticipating the reactions of others, and eliminating opposite proposals.
        2. Foreign Aid
    7. The World Influence
      1. The forces concerning the foreign and defense policies affect the ways in which they calculate their power stakes.
      2. Presi. now expect to pay the high costs themselves if the world situation deteriorates.
      3. Presi. engaged in world politics are more concerned with meeting problems on their own terms.
      4. It is worthwhile to organize political activity in order to affect his agenda.

      5. The best way to convince Presi. to follow a desired policy is to show that is might work.
     Nivola 29: Wildavsky, “Two Presidencies”
    By Brady Lamborne, Spring 2008

    • The President has two jobs in which he deals with domestic affairs and with defense and foreign policy.

    • The problem with the President’s domestic policy is that he can’t get congressional support for the programs he supports.
    • On the other hand the President can get support for the policies that he believes will protect the nation.
    • In foreign policy there has not been a single major issue in which they were serious and determined and not failed which was the entry into the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the Truman Doctrine.
    • The number of nations with which the United States has diplomatic relations has increased from 53 in 1939 to 113 in 1966.
    • The foreign policy concerns of the President tend to drive out the domestic policy.
    • The importance of foreign affairs to Presidents is intensified by the increasing speed of events in the international arena.
    Domestic policy-making is usually based on experimental adjustments to an existing situation.
    • Presidents have to be careful therefore to husband their resources for pressuring future needs because they can not always count on congressional support.
    • Presidents don’t always get support from the public so they have to be careful on what they do in office.
    • The two Presidencies also deal with how the president deals with the public, congress, military, and the interest groups.
    • There Are a Number of Competitors For the Control of Policy Making.
    • With the President dealing with foreign affairs the Public is much more involved and concerned with.[domestic]
    • There are the Interest Groups that compete for control in which the strongest competing for control is the ethnic associations.
    • Congress has not been very effective in policy since the end of WWII.
    • There have been occasionally a number of individual legislators or committees that have been influential in Congress.
    • The Militaries technology and international conflict has increased a deficit in our defense budget which is not helping our economy rise.
    • The Military Industrial Complex doesn’t deal with controlling the policy and the budgeting decisions in which there is really no evidence that proves that they deal with it all.
    • The World influence deals with the foreign and defense policy of the president and at his own power and stakes.
    • The President is expected to pay the costs of his decisions that he made if the situation of the world is deteriorating away.
    • To convince the president to approve a policy is show him that it will actually work and is not a waste of time and money.
    • To sum it all it up the two Presidencies deals with how the president toggles between domestic affairs and foreign and defense policy and what he can and can’t do within these programs.

    Richard Neustadt, "The Power to Persuade"
    by Alexis Johnson, spring 2010

    -“Presidential Power is the power to persuade.”
    - Presidents are expected to do much more than their authority allows them to do.
     -Means to influence policy are persuasion and bargaining. 

      -Not only are Presidents supposed to persuade Congress, but also the executive branch. A president cannot simply command things of his aides because they too have ideas.
    -“Power is the product of vantage points in government, together with [the President’s] reputation in the Washington community, and his prestige outside.”
     A President’s Three Sources of Power
      -Professional Reputation- How others perceive him and expect to react in various    circumstances. He can have failures, but if these failures form patterns, it weakens the    President.
      -Public Prestige- A President’s popular support outside Washington. He does not    necessarily watch opinion polls, but rather the public’s opinions of Congress and the    legislation they have presented. 
       -Congressional Bargaining
        -Because there is an innate reverence for the office of the Presidency, the President has an increased power over Congress. If is President is popular, failing to go along with him can be damaging to members of Congress. Also, more people need favors from the President, giving him bargaining power. 
      -Power of the Presidency- The misconception of power surrounding powers of the President. The only person who can safeguard this power is the President. Even members of the executive branch have biases of their own.

    - A president affects the flow of power, but never decides alone whether it flows freely or runs dry.
     -When he chooses what to say, as well as how to say it, he does so to dissipate his power.

    - Like Madison, Neustadt chooses a pluralist view explain politics. Under this theory, the powers of government are shared not separated. Competing factions persuade and argue until policy reaches what the typical citizen would want.

    -In his book, Going Public, Sam Kernell says that the need for the President to persuade Congress and the executive branch has been replaced with the need to persuade the public directly. 
     
     

    Nivola, #30 Richard E. Neustadt, "The Power to Persuade" 
    by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008

  • Due to the limitations of the executive office, the President must not only rely on their formal authority or partisan loyalty, they must also possess the power to persuade other government actors, interests groups, and the public to support their initiatives. 
  • The Constitution created a government of separate institutions that share power, not separate power. ‘The separateness of institutions and the sharing of authority prescribe the terms on which a president persuades.’ 
  • Therefore, the White House authority depends on the executive’s ability to persuade others that they are doing something for their sake, in their interests, and for their good. 
  • The executive’s ability to do this is based on his logic and his charm, as well as the status and authority he harbors. 
  • This puts the President at an advantage for getting what he wants, but he is still kept in check because the idea of persuasion is a ‘two-way street’, which leads to bargaining within the political structure. 
  • What happens when the president attempts to persuade outside of the political system? 
  • This usually allows for the executive to assert his authority under persuasion; individuals can be met through political party affiliation, which the president controls influence over. 
  • In foreign policy, persuasion plays a large part seeing as ‘power is persuasion and persuasion becomes bargaining.’ Pressuring an ally is a very effective tool in foreign affairs. 
  • What influence does the Executive’s power have in dealing with the executive branch? 
  • Ideally, the executive would hold complete power over the executive branch, but history has shown that is sometimes not the case. 
  • The stronger the individual within the branch, the less effective the President’s power of persuasion appears to be. 

  • Nivola #30 - “The Power to Persuade” by Richard E. Neustadt (1960)
    Maegan McCollum Spring 2008

    - “When one man shares authority with another, but does not gain or lose his job upon the other’s whim, his willingness to act upon the urging of the other turns on whether he conceives the action right for him.” The essence of a president’s persuasive task is to convince these men that what the White House wants of them is what they ought to do for their sake and on their authority.

    - The status and authority the president has add to his logic and charm.
    - Status adds to persuasiveness, authority adds more.
    - Example: Truman urging wage changes on his secretary of commerce, while the SC was administering the steel mills; Truman’s status gave him claims to his SC’s loyalty.
    - Truman had the advantage: possessing formal authority to intervene in matters concerning the SC which ranged from jurisdictional disputes to legislation pending before Congress, and the tenure of the SC.

    - Each “power” is a vantage point for him in how other men use his authority; from veto to appointments, publicity to budgeting, etc. the White House controls the most encompassing array of vantage points in the American political system.

    - Men in government are aware that at sometime, to some degree, the doing of their jobs, furthering of their ambitions, may depend upon the president. Their need for presidential action, or fear of it, is consistent. Their fear or need is his advantage.
    - The men with whom he deals must work with him until the last day of his term; what the president could do tomorrow gives him the advantage today. Continuing relationships change “power” into vantage points in most cases. A president can use their dependence now and later.
    - Continuing relationships pull in both ways; a president depends on the men he persuades, and has to reckon with his need or fear of them. Their vantage points confront his own.
    - The power to persuade is the power to bargain. A president may be far more persuasive than his logic or his charm.
    - Command has limited utility; persuasion becomes give-and-take.
    - Example: Little Rock and Eisenhower
    - Even in national nominates a president’s advantages are checked by those of others.
    - Influence is even more give-and-take when dealing with allied governments. Example: Suez affair.
    - Power is persuasion and persuasion becomes bargaining.
    - Americans instinctively resist the view that power in the sphere of executive relations resembles power in all others.
    - The executive establishment consists of separated institutions sharing powers.
    - The Constitution gives the president the “take-care” clause and the appointive power; statutes give him central budgeting and some personnel control
    - Agency administrators are responsible to him, but they are also responsible to Congress, their clients, their staffs, and themselves. They have five masters; only after those do they owe loyalty to each other.
    - Executive officials are not equally advantaged in their dealings with a president. The variance is heightened by particulars of time and circumstance. And when officials lack “powers” or depend upon the president for status, their counter pressure is limited.
    - Any aide who demonstrates to others that he has the president’s consistent confidence and part in presidential business will gain business on his own account until he becomes in some sense an independent chief. Nothing in the Constitution prevents an aide from converting status into power, even that that is usable against the president.
    - The essence of a president’s persuasive task with congressmen and everyone else “is to induce them to believe that what he wants of them is what their own appraisal of their own responsibilities requires them to do in their interest, not his.”
    - Because people differ in their views of public policy, because differences in outlook stem from differences in duty (to one’s offices, constituents, self) “that task is bound to be more like collective bargaining than like a reasoned argument….”
    - Persuasion deals within the self-interest of men who have some “freedom to reject what they find counterfeit.”

    Nivola, #31 Charles O. Jones, Separating to Govern-The American Way: 
    by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008

  • Jones argues that a divided government does not create the ‘stalemate’ that some claim occurs when the two different parties control the different branches. 
  • He does state that the system of elections (which is essential to the idea of separation of powers) lacks a structural feature for ensuring partisan unity, but that idea is based on the need to ‘form a government’, because how can you measure a stalemate? 
  • Passing of significant legislation can be used to measure stale-mate—but in doing so you find that there is no difference between a split and unified government in achieving this. 
  • Next, even once a president is elected; it does not induce unity within the political system, even when the one party wins both branches and certainly not when the parties share control of three elected branches because building a support coalition takes a long time and a lot of effort, but they shift all the time, making it difficult to establish a consistent unified party. 
  • Jones argues that ‘the agenda includes a series of basic questions on what government should do, on which government should do it, and on the capacity of the private sphere to solve public problems. This debate should not and will not be settled by one party or one institution’. 

  • 31: Charles O. Jones, "Separating to Govern: American Way" (1996?)
    Joey Hollis, 2002

    -"Democracy is a political system for those who aren't too sure that they are right" 
    -Unlike other countries, the American system welcomes criticism, and thrives on conflict
    between parties 
    -Responsible-party, Presidency centered model holds that political parties should be prepared
    to overcome constitutional divisions, primarily through Presidential Leadership. 
    -Under the U.S. Constitution, due to the Separation of Powers, and the encouragement of
    conflict within Congress, it is not feasible to "form a government", meaning primarily the
    centralization of power as clear in the British system. 
           Because we truly do not have, nor can form one government, meaning a total centralization
    of power, we cannot hold the President accountable for the sucess or failure of his overall
    program, because he lacks the power to put that plan into effect. 

    SPLIT PARTISAN CONTROL 

    -Split party government - President of one party with the other party having majorities in one or
    both houses 
    -The system of disconnected, independent elections, which is necessary for the separation of powers, ceases to ensure partisan unity 
    -With two parties sharing power results in gridlock
            > The production of major legislation is the indicator of gridlock 
    -While 12.8 acts passed per Congress while 1 party ruled both houses, 11.7 passed during a split-party Congress 
    -Different political combinations will produce different solutions to the same public problems 
    SHARED INSTITUTIONS COMPETING FOR SHARES OF POWER 
    -In a federalized, and therefore seperated system, voters can choose a Democrat here,
    Republican there 
    -Political Parties are organizations to facilitate action in the seperated system 
    -Since WWII the President's party has lost on average 30 seats, with a range of 4 to 5 seats [in midterm elections]
    -Elections don't automatically produce unity, even when all are ruled by one party 
    -Because partisan strategies for coalition building won't work, Presidents and leaders devise cross-party strategies 
    -The electoral system fosters co-partisan, cross-partisan, and bi-partisan lawmaking 
    -Seperated elections produce an ever-shifting coalitional base- 

    STABILITY IN CONGRESS 

    -House and Senate have become increasingly professional, career oriented, and institutionalized
    -Congressmen and Senators have unprecedented knowledge and experience
    -Congress has a well-articulated committee structure
    -Incumbent return rate in the House is 90%, while in the Senate its 67% 
        >Average length of service for members after WWII is about 10 years for House and
    Senate 
    Because in Congress there is NOT high turnover, amateurism, and short memories, the President cannot gain a conceivable edge over the Congress 
    POLICY ERAS 
    -Presidents and Congresses usually work within an agenda orientation that is naturally
    associated with broad policy developments
    Reagan's Philosophy 
            Thought that government was the problem, and therefore installed a contractive agenda.
             There were two approaches 
               Programmatic: seeking to cut back, eliminate, and devolve various federal
    programs 
               Fiscal:  Seek to reduce taxes, thereby starving revenue and preventing enactment
    of new programs, while forcing serious re-consideration of others 

    But, taxes were raised several times during Reagan's Presidency to avoid the debt, and give
    more latitude in policymaking. 

    After Bush, the result was an example of a separated system following the 1994 elections 
    A policy-ambitious Democratic President with a weak statusa highly energized Republican
    House of Representatives, and a Senate with competitive Republican "would be" Presidentials. 

    PRESIDENT CLINTON AND THE SEPARATED SYSTEM 
    -Clinton had the least political capital when he entered office 

    Weaknesses of Clinton 

    -He was governor of a small state, a distance away from Washington, never holding a position in the federal government 
    -Because he had worked with a Democratic Legislature, he never had to take Republicans into account 
    -Lacked experience in foreign and international relations policies 
    -"Policy wonk" (couldn't prioritize and concentrate on a few issues, promising more than could be done) 
    -Lacked direct experience in forming, and accomodating to an elaborately articulated staff
    To compensate, Clinton relied on his presumed strength - campaigning 



     

    Nivola, #32 Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: 
    by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008

  • The American presidency is a personal dimension within the American political system, intertwining the individual and the office. 
  • Kearns compares the individual personal qualities of Lyndon Johnston to the institutional aspects of the president. 
    • 1. Different institutions reward different qualities: Johnson used his ability within the Senate to gain power on the political stage and his performance there was his means of advancing his ambition. 
      2. Johnson demonstrated hitherto unsuspected powers in the executive branch: even though people believed that power was being centralized in the executive, Johnson ‘gave it a new dimension’. Johnson discovered that the president could exert a lot of power without being noticed—through undisclosed information and the private interpretation of information. 
      3. ‘This aspect of institutional change suggests that the most effective checks on presidential power are not the committees that form the constitutional system of ‘checks and balances.’ Instead they are the media who more effectively restraint president actions. 
      4. ‘Johnson’s career also helps to reaffirm the significance or consensus politics to effective leadership.’ For Johnson, the lack of serious division and favorable economic conditions allowed him formulate programs that would increase his public support and interest. 
      5. Johnson proved that the qualities of a leader do not change when he assumes new and larger responsibilities. Kearns argues that the basic abilities, ambitions grounded on inner needs, modes of conduct, and inclinations of behavior are deeply and permanently embedded in an individual. The point of noting this is that it is essential to look at the foundations of that character to evaluate the power they will assume in such a high office as presidency. 
      6. There are many outside influences on the president’s abilities as well: cabinet, institutionalization, party, responsibilities.
      7. ‘The President’s ability to focus national attention upon his every word and deed is both a source of both power and illusion.’ 


    32: Doris Kearns, "Lyndon Johnson & American Dream" (1976)
    By Charles Walter, Fall 2007

    Kearns explores how the office of the presidency and the individual become intertwined.
    Different Institutions reward different qualities

    • rewards depends on the nature of the individual leader’s ambition as well as the institution
    • To Kennedy and Nixon the Senate was but a platform to advance their careers
    • Johnson, in contrast, held all the qualities to become powerful Senate leader the institution rewarded his qualities and those rewards were the object of his ambitions. He had other aspirations of course but he wouldn’t focus on other chances for more power in another institution because it delineated the work he was currently involved in. He had to depend upon effective performance where he needed to control his current institutional environment
    • Thus he was unable to move from majority leader to president on his own
    • Demands of institutions are often contradictory (what may be acceptable in one setting is not in another) 64 and 65 allowed Johnson to be successful due to certain circumstances but when the circumstances changed his qualities became ill-suited. His search for control caused him to move toward coercive action to transform the executive branch into his personal instrument.
    • Important to understand whether or not a leader is able to achieve his ambitions in a particular setting
    Making the executive branch more powerful
    • previous evolution had relied on economic policy and welfare, significance of foreign policy, defense establishment, involvement in war, etc with the knowledge of the public and Congressional acquiescence
    • Johnson concealed what he was doing and represented a change in the relationships within the constitutional framework which moves, in some part, the presidential institution outside the framework itself.
    The most effective checks and balances are not the committees that form the constitutional system of checks and balances but rather that of the media and public opinion

    Johnson’s career helps to reaffirm the significance of consensus politics in effective presidential leadership

    • he constructed a consensus from an assembly of particular groups and interests using individuals with whom he could deal directly to influence Congress directly, he created an interlocking web of services and obligations—it became a pluralistic consensus with often contradictory interest which Johnson knew would shape the actions of congress
    • Popular support consensus would come from achievement, not a source
    Johnson’s career shows that the basic qualities of a leader do not change when he assumes new and larger responsibilities 
    • Not realistic to assume a man “grows” in office, they do learn but inclinations of behavior, ambitions, and modes of conduct are deeply embedded (the new Nixon was the old Nixon with more power)
    the presidential institution has grown in power as well as the president’s ability to concentrate the power in his hands—a consequence not as much of tyranny than as much as the steady weakening of various institutions designed to check the president (cabinet, congress, party)
    This centralization eventually weakens the president’s ability to lead

    A source of power and illusion is the president’s ability to focus national attention by media

    • for five years Johnson dominated the Washington spotlight, the Cabinet was his, the Congress was his, the Great Society was his…
    • The man in the center remains in the center when things go bad, thus Vietnam became “Johnson’s War” he personally was dropping bombs, setting back racial/social progress