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HOW POWERFUL IS HE? 1 The American President. The Power to Persuade I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do things they ought to have enough.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW POWERFUL IS HE? 1 The American President. The Power to Persuade I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do things they ought to have enough."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW POWERFUL IS HE? 1 The American President

2 The Power to Persuade I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do things they ought to have enough sense to do without me persuading them. Thats all the powers of the President amount to. President Harry S Truman The classic definition of Presidential power in the United States is that of political scientist Richard Neustadt. Writing in the 1970s, he described presidential power in the United States as "not the power to command, but the power to persuade." In truth, the President has more than a few constitutional and extra constitutional cards to play.

3 The Power to Convene Congress The President can call both houses of Congress together in times of national crisis Once a year the President speaks to Congress and the nation directly with his State of the Union speech. This outlines the Presidents plans for the year ahead. The President can use the State of the Union address to go over the heads of Congress and, hopefully, win public support for his plans President Obama State of the Union Address, February 2009

4 Commander in Chief Current military campaigns are, of course, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring freedom: Afghanistan I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind It is perhaps in foreign policy that the Presidents powers are strongest. The President becomes the Commander in Chief of the US military, the most powerful force in the world, the moment he is sworn into office Only Congress can declare war. But, the Commander in Chief can initiate military action abroad without a formal declaration of war. The President can also make treaties with other countries (subject to 2/3 of the Senate agreeing)

5 Patronage Supreme Court Bush appointee, John Roberts Supreme Court Bush appointee, Samuel Alito US Ambassador to United Nations Bush appointee, John Bolton. President Bush knew the Senate wouldnt approve Boltons appointment, so he appointed him while the senate was on holiday! President Bush his Presidential get out of jail card to commute the jail sentence of leading Republican Lewis Scooter Libby

6 Presidential Power since 9/11 The terror attacks of 11 September 2001 gave a great boost to Presidential power, both domestically and in terms of foreign policy leadership. President Bushs poll ratings were extremely high. His neo-conservative backers; Vice President Dick Cheney, leader of the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay and party strategist Karl Rove, believed they could transform the Middle East with bold military action, using Presidential authority to bypass Congress and international treaties.

7 George W Bush and Pre-Emptive Power The President has stated a doctrine that he can just make up the law and create whatever other powers he wants on his own. Senator Russ Feingold If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long The Bush doctrine claimed a Presidential authority to pre-empt hostile acts against the United States. Determination of what constitutes such a threat was in President Bushs view, solely a matter for Presidential discretion.

8 USA Patriot Act "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 Passed by overwhelming Congressional vote six weeks after 9/11, the Patriot Act allowed the Presidential office powers to; Search suspects property at will Detain suspects indefinitely Undertake warrant less wiretaps Obtain traditionally privileged trial information on terrorist suspects

9 Checks and Balances Americas founding fathers were anxious to prevent any one person becoming over powerful. This is why they set up a system of separation of powers between the Executive (President), the Legislature (Congress) and Judiciary (Supreme Court). This is usually referred to as checks and balances. No branch of government can rule without the other. In theory, if one part of government attempts legislation which is unconstitutional, one or the other can intervene.

10 Veto Shuffle: Iraq Veto Shuffle Bush vetoes Iraq bill Speaker Pelosi on the presidential veto The Constitution grants the President the authority to veto acts of Congress. Unless two-thirds of the members of each house votes to override the veto, the bill does not become law.

11 President Bushs vetoes The President has the power to veto legislation passed by Congress. President Bush didnt use his veto at all in his first term of office. But, into term two, as his popularity dipped and he became a lame duck he was forced to use his veto on Stem Cell research Iraq War Funds Bill SCHIP Waterboarding

12 Bush legacy: Supreme Court John Roberts Samuel Alito President Bush was able to appoint two judges Conservatives now, on paper, have a majority on the Supreme Court, which could change the law on issues such as abortion, the role of religion in schools and gay marriage

13 However…. "The Supreme Court normally does not reverse the president during wartime. But this president has claimed a lot of power, much of it under the guise of the state of war that we're in against terrorists. And I think what the Supreme Court is saying is that you've gone too far." Stephen J. Wayne, Georgetown University The Senate must always approve any presidential nominations. The Senate thoroughly vets and interviews appointees and blatantly partisan appointees would not pass. The Supreme Court ruled that the imprisonment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay was illegal, much to President Bushs dismay.

14 The verdict on President Bush? Hoover was a disaster. Warren Harding rates very low in the pantheon of presidents. It is very likely that Bush will be seen as a bottom feeder What do you think?! Professor Robert Dallek Boston University

15 What about Obama? He has a lot going for him Presidents are normally most powerful in the first years of their first term Congress approved the Presidents financial package to save the US economy The Democrats have control of both houses of Congress He has appointed his first Supreme Court judge; Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice But opposition is mounting to his health care plans Sum Up: The Main Powers of the President

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