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The Executive Branch


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Title: The Executive Branch

The Executive Branch
  • Are individual personalities now more important
    than parties?

Can the President control public discussion?
Clinton, Reagan, Nixon
Does a president have to be moral in order to
be a good president?
Do Americans need a President to have trustworthy
Must the modern President always be involved in
everything or have a solution for everything?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
What role does confidence in the President have
on American morale?
Does a lot of action and policy creation make a
President great? Can a President be great if
not much is changed during their Presidency?
What did the framers of the Constitution want?
  • Although the Constitutional convention was
    conducted in secret, the framers sent out a press
    release to counteract rumors surrounding their
  • Tho we cannot, affirmatively, tell you what we
    are doing we can, negatively, tell you what we
    are not doing we never once thought of a king.
  • Alexander Hamilton proposed a virtual monarchy
    a president that was appointed for life but
    it was flatly rejected.
  • Many debates at the convention surrounded how
    much power to give the president.
  • The system of checks and balances between the
    three branches is a vivid reminder of how fearful
    they were of putting too much power in the hands
    of one person.

The Roles of the Presidentsee packet handout
  • Chief of State
  • Chief Executive
  • Commander-in-chief
  • Chief Diplomat
  • Chief Legislator
  • Chief of Party
  • Voice of the People
  • President of the West
  • Protector of the Peace
  • Manager of the Prosperity

Constitutional Requirements
  • Qualifications (same for VP)
  • Art. II
  • natural-born citizen
  • 14 years of US residency
  • 35 years of age
  • THATS IT!!!
  • (VP cant be from the same state as President)

Chief of State
  • Conducts all social business on behalf of the
  • Ceremonial head of government at public functions
  • Entertains guests at the White House from
    foreign dignitaries to Super Bowl champions
  • Appoints ambassadors to foreign nations to
    represent him abroad they perform similar
    functions in the country that they are assigned to

Chief Executive
  • Runs the Executive branch and Bureaucracy
  • Power to appoint ambassadors, public officers,
    and Supreme Court Judges with Senate approval
    (advice and consent)
  • Civil Service System most gov. jobs under
    executive filled based on merit system, NOT
    presidential appointment (Pendleton Act
    Garfield assassination)
  • Carries out/enforces the laws

Commander in Chief (civilian control)(George
Washington video clip)
  • President can send armed forces abroad
  • Congress has not declared war since 12/8/1941
  • Korea, Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan all
  • War Powers Resolution, 1973
  • President must report to Congress within 48 hours
    after deployment
  • If Congress does not OK in 60 days, must withdraw
  • Check on president, attempt to limit president

Chief Diplomat
  • Create treaties with foreign nations with Senate
    permission, 2/3 Senate approval (advice and
  • Executive agreement no permission needed, deal
    between heads of state, not binding to next
  • Diplomatic Recognition power to officially
    recognize foreign gov. as legit
  • Ex. 1917-1933 USSR not recognized
  • Ex. 1949-1970s China not recognized

Chief Legislator
  • Proposes a budget
  • Works with Congress to achieve policy goals
    harder to do if we have divided government like
    we do now
  • Can approve or veto legislation
  • Can use executive orders to achieve policy goals
    within the executive branch ONLY

Strengthening the Presidency
  • Washington set precedent for future
  • Jackson frequent use of veto power
  • Lincoln took Commander in Chief to new levels
    of power during the Civil War
  • TR - Bully pulpit domestic policy
    Progressive Era reforms Big Stick Diplomacy
    foreign policy power
  • FDR huge influence on fiscal and monetary
    policy with New Deal, checked by Supreme Court
    strong WW2 alliance with Churchill

Use of Executive Privilege
  • The right to privacy of conversations, documents,
    meeting minutes between advisors and president
  • Why?
  • Separation of powers prevents branches from
    sharing internal workings
  • Privacy is needed for candid advice from advisors
    with out political pressure
  • Items discussed in the national security
    interest should not be revealed as it might
    compromise the safety of the nation

Use of Executive Privilege
  • US v. Nixon
  • Nixon refused to hand over recorded
    conversations, claimed Exec. Privilege
  • SCOTUS ruled in favor of US
  • EP cant be used to block the function of the
    federal court procedures or investigation of an
    alleged crime

Use of Impoundment
  • Presidential practice of refusing to spend money
    appropriated by Congress.
  • Nixon tried to withhold spending as a way to
    combat inflation
  • Budget Reform and Impoundment Act of 1974
    Congress checked that power - president must
    spend funds if they are appropriated by Congress

Use of Agenda Setting
  • The President can control public policy and the
    national discussion through
  • The media take his case to the people over the
  • State of the Union speech last year on
  • Make policy proposals and budgetary requests
  • Encourage the Congress to act and publically call
    them out when they dont

Use of Executive Orders
  • President can issue executive orders that have
    force of law a legal way to avoid Congressional
    approval ONLY if it is related to executive
    branch duties or Constitutional obligations
  • Ex power to enforce the Constitution, treaties,
    laws, etc.
  • FDR allowed Japanese internment (CominChief)
  • Truman integrate military (CominChief)
  • Eisenhower desegregate public schools
  • Obama most recently raising min. wage for
    federal contract employees to 10.10 per hour

Use of Line-Item Veto???
  • Should the President be able to veto certain
    parts of a bill, and not other parts?
  • Line-Item Veto Act 1996
  • Clinton v. City of New York (1997) law found
    unconstitutional interfered with the framers
    concept of checks and balances
  • SCOTUS says that a bill must be signed into law
    in its entirety or veto it in its entirety and
    send it back to Congress and start over
  • Cant cherry pick what you want/dont want

Decrease of Presidential Power
  • Divided government President and Congress
    majority represent different political parties
  • Results in gridlock the inability to
    accomplish goals or pass legislation
  • Con government operation shuts down nothing
  • Pro slows the decision making process, example
    of check and balance
  • Senate can stall presidential appointments
  • Both houses can refuse to pass the budget

Vice President(Joe Biden)
  • Preside over the Senate, tie breaking vote
  • Takes over the presidency if the President cannot
    finish term
  • 12th Amendment voters choose President and VP
    together but voted on separate ballots
  • Previous to 1804, the candidate who came in 2nd
    was the VP, even if they were from a different
    party (Adams-Fed Jefferson Anti-Fed.)

Oh Joe!
Presidential Term Limits, Disability and
  • 22nd Amendment limited President to 2 terms,
    serving no more than 10 years (First 2-Last 2
    year rule if VP takes over from a President.)
    Passed after FDR died. Technically one could
    be president anywhere from 8-10 years.
  • 25th Amendment If the VP office is vacated,
    then the President can select a new VP which is
    approved by Congress prior to this, no VP
    vacancies were ever filled
  • No VP vacancies were filled after a VP moved up
    to be president.
  • When LBJ took over from JFK, no VP existed. Many
    presidents served without a VP. That is why we
    passed the 25th amendment.
  • Ford was the first VP to be appointed using the
    25th Amendment when VP Spiro Agnew resigned. When
    he became president after the Nixon resignation,
    he chose Nelson Rockefeller as his VP.

Presidential Rankings and Reading - Presidential
  • See handout in unit readings folder

FYI - Electoral College
  • Remember the formula
  • HR 2S EV
  • KY 6 2 8
  • In an election a total of 538 EVs are up for
    grabs you need 270 to win! (435 in HR 100 S
    3DC 538)
  • Minimum a state can have is 3 (Wyoming is the
    least populous state in the US.)
  • When we vote, we vote for electors. Our vote
    indicates we want our electors to vote for a
    specific candidate.

FYI - Electoral College
  • Election is in November. In December, the
    Electoral College casts their votes in their home
  • Electoral college members are chosen differently
    in each state.
  • Most states have a law that says you must cast
    your EV for the candidate for which you have
    already pledged cant change mind. (Though
    every few elections, someone does, which results
    in a minor media storm for a day or so.)
  • KYs delegates are chosen by each party Rs
    pick Rs Ds pick Ds. Party of winning
    candidate gets to cast the votes.
  • EVs are counted in a joint-session of Congress
    on January 6th after the November election live
    on CSPAN! (How exciting!)

White House Office - Structure
  • Pyramid model assistants answer to a
    hierarchy up to a chief of staff (few top
    advisors to president, president free but
    isolated) Eisenhower, Nixon
  • Circular model (wheel and spoke) direct
    contact with staff (many top advisors to
    president - president is busy but connected)
    JFK, Carter
  • Ad hoc model - combines leadership and
    management tactics that the CEO of a large
    corporation might use. Clinton, G. W. Bush and
    Obama used this style, which employs committees,
    task forces, and special advisors to help develop
    and implement policy.
  • Significance access to the president. determines
    which aides or advisors have the most influence
    on presidential decisions the law of
    propinquity says the closer you are to power, the
    more influence you have

The Cabinet
  • The cabinet is an informal institution.
    Mentioned in Article II, the Executive article,
    the Constitution speaks of the principal Officer
    in each of the executive Departments.
  • The 25th Amendment also discusses the role of the
    cabinet in deciding issues of presidential
  • Because it was created out of custom, not
    requirement, the cabinet has always been
    perceived to be weak.
  • Even though the president conducts meetings with
    the entire cabinet, some question their
    usefulness as a whole group.
  • Being experts in one area, and therefore are not
    generally able to add insight to problems outside
    their field of expertise account for this debate
    as to their usefulness.
  • Helpful to the extent that the cabinet is part of
    the task specialization that Weber discussed in
    his Bureaucratic Theory

Kitchen Cabinet
  • Beginning with Andrew Jackson, many presidents
    have informal advisors who hold no official
  • Teddy Roosevelt called it his tennis cabinet.
  • Warren Harding had the Ohio Gang and the poker
  • Hoover, who exercised regularly, had the
    medicine ball cabinet.
  • And every president has a gang of friends back
    home that are consulted on a regular basis.
  • Breaking with precedent, Clinton put his wife
    Hillary in charge of his health care reform

The 15 Cabinet Departments
  • In order of seniority and presidential
    succession, they are
  • State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior,
    Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health/Human
    Services, Housing/Urban Development,
    Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans
    Affairs, Homeland Security.

The White House Staff
  • The members of the presidents staff fulfill a
    variety of roles.
  • Some are gatekeepers they are very protective
    of the president and those who might try to
    monopolize his time.
  • Some staffers are liasons (go-betweens) to
    Congress and other executive departments.
  • Others are speechwriters, the press secretary,
    and most importantly, the chief of staff, who
    oversees the entire staff.
  • Those considered to be part of the White House
    staff are not nominated and approved by the
    Senate. The president has wide discretion in the
    hiring and firing of these individuals. They
    serve at the presidents request and must stay in
    his good graces to maintain employment.

  • Established by FDR in 1939, the Executive Office
    of the President has, like the bureaucracy, grown
    immensely over time.
  • With over 10 different departments, the EOP is as
    influential at times, if not more so, than the
    cabinet as a whole can be.
  • Each has a separate function we will do a more
    specific breakdown of each part of the EOP in the
    bureaucracy chapter.
  • The better known members of the EOP are National
    Security Council (NSC), Office of Management
    Budget (OMB), Council of Economic Advisors,
    Domestic Policy Council, Foreign Intelligence
    Advisory Board and the Office of the Vice

(No Transcript)
The Tools of Presidential Power
  • The Cabinet
  • The White House Staff
  • The Executive Office of the President (EOP)
  • Kitchen Cabinet
  • Perquisites (perks)
  • Mass media

The Nuclear Age
  • Cold War tensions and the advent of nuclear
    weapons increased presidential power in the most
    drastic way.
  • The football the briefcase with nuclear
    launch commands is guarded by a military aide
    and a secret serviceman at all times and is
    always at the presidents disposal.
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union made it
    difficult to keep track of how many nuclear
    weapons were out there and where they were.
  • Terrorists with dirty bombs or suitcase bombs and
    rogue nations like North Korea and Iran are part
    of the new nuclear threat.

Foreign Affairs
  • The post World War 1 isolationism of the 1920s
    and 30s is a thing of the past.
  • World War 2 the advent of the United Nations
    have contributed to the way modern presidents
    approach foreign affairs.
  • The Cold War with its containment theory became
    the basis for foreign policy. Keeping communism
    from spreading, especially in the Americas, was
    the driving idea from 1945 to 1990.
  • After 9/11, destroying terrorist organizations
    has chiefly impacted the way we deal with foreign

Domestic Affairs
  • The central question governing domestic affairs
    since 1932 is
  • To what degree, and in what ways, do the
    American people want the government to be
    involved in their every day lives?
  • Do we want big government or small
    government? What does big government mean to a
    Republican? A Democrat?
  • As the government bureaucracy grows, so does the
    presidents power. The president oversees the
    federal bureaucracy a group that now totals
    over 4 million.

The Mass Media
  • Beginning with FDRs Fireside Chats on radio,
    to the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960, and now the
    internet and YouTube channels, the mass media
    magnifies the presidency and the role of the
    person who is president.
  • The president can go directly to the people to
    present his point of view and enlist their
  • The major networks make prime time (8-11pm)
    coverage readily available to the president.
  • Nightly newscasts show the presidents daily
    activities in 20-60 second sound-bites.
  • Modern presidents must now have media advisors
    and press secretaries to craft the message for
    maximum impact.

  • The president has, at his disposal, numerous
    benefits (perquisites, or perks) to use to
    accomplish his goals.
  • He can offer rides home to Congressmen on Air
    Force One and use the time to lobby them to help
    his legislative agenda.
  • He can invite them to the White House to spend
    the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, where he can
    wine and dine them.
  • He can give them priority seating at such events
    as official state dinners or White House
    concerts, and, if they have children, invite the
    family to the annual Christmas tree lighting or
    the Easter egg roll.

The Mass Media (The Press)
  • The press secretary is the conduit through which
    the president communicates to the press, and in
    turn, the nation.
  • Being a buffer, the press secretary can field
    questions that the president may not want to, or
    may not be ready to answer himself. In this
    way, the president can test market his ideas.
  • The White House Office of Communication as a
    whole are the gatekeepers of information coming
    out of the White House. They also stylistically
    (rhetorically) craft the message to make it as
    palatable (convincing) as possible.
  • Eisenhower had the first televised (but edited)
    press conferences JFK had the first live,
    unedited ones.

  • Presidents Gone Wrong
  • The Watergate and
  • Lewinsky Scandals

25th Amendment Gerald Ford
  • Remember, the 25th Amendment dictates what
    happens when a president is disabled and cant be
    president, resigns, or what to do if there is a
    vacancy in the Vice Presidents position.
  • Gerald Ford is the first person to experience
    first hand the 25th Amendment not once but
  • In 1973, Nixons VP, Spiro T. Agnew, resigned
    under a cloud of controversy. He was accused of
    tax evasion while Governor of Maryland.
  • Ford was appointed VP by Nixon, as specified by
    the 25th Amd., and his appointment was approved
    by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
    (Ford was House Minority Leader at the time).

The Watergate Scandal
  • Telling the Watergate story is difficult at best.
    In a nutshell, here are the major plot points
  • Nixons White House aides (Haldeman Erlichman)
    had a dirty tricks organization outside the
    White House to disrupt the Democrats election
    plans in 1972.
  • Thieves were paid to break into the Watergate
    Hotel Office complex in WDC to electronically
    bug the Democrats headquarters. They were
  • Hush up money was paid to them. But two
    Washington Post reporters (Woodward Bernstein),
    following the trail of who paid who what money,
    and with the help of an anonymous source, traced
    it back to the White House.
  • Congress held investigatory hearings in which a
    parade of witnesses appeared. One man, Alexander
    Butterfield, eventually revealed that all Oval
    Office conversations were audio taped.

Executive Privilege (again)
  • If Congress could get a hold of the tapes, they
    might be able to get the evidence they needed to
    discern if Nixon 1) knew about the break in and
    2) had any role to play in paying the hush-up
  • Congress subpoenaed the tapes, Nixon refused to
    give them, claiming executive privilege.
  • Not in the Constitution, but by custom, the
    president maintains his right to withhold the
    executive branch documents from the other two
    branches based upon the idea of separation of
  • Because the tapes were allegedly evidence of a
    crime, the US Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in the
    case U.S. v. Nixon (1974) that executive
    privilege stops when criminal activity is alleged
    or if the documents in question could be evidence
    of a crime.
  • (There was a vacancy on the court at that time.)

Watergate Aftermath
  • The Democrat controlled House Judiciary Committee
    passed three articles of impeachment (obstruction
    of justice, violating constitutional rights of US
    citizens, and defying the subpoena for the
  • Before the committee could send it to the whole
    House for a vote, Nixon resigned on August 9,
  • Gerald Ford, the man appointed VP just 10 months
    earlier, was now sworn in as president. He
    became the only person to become president,
    having never run for the office outright.
  • In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any
    wrongdoing or crimes he may have committed
    against the United States.
  • Still debated as controversial, Ford stood behind
    his decision up until his death in 2006.

Clinton Impeachment
  • Much like the Watergate story, the public needed
    a score card to keep up with all the names and
  • Again, in a nutshell An investigation into an
    allegedly crooked land deal in Arkansas while
    Clinton was governor led to an examination of his
    personal life. At this point, a woman named
    Paula Jones accused him of sexual harassment
    while he was governor.
  • The investigation of her claims by special
    prosecutor Kenneth Starr led to the discovery of
    another affair with a 21 year old White House
    intern named Monica Lewinsky.
  • Clinton, denying the charges on TV and under
    oath, later had to recant when a woman named
    Linda Tripp, a friend of Lewinsky, turned over
    taped conversations of Lewinsky bragging about
    the affair.
  • The Republican controlled House voted to impeach
    258-176. The trial was held in the Senate in
    January of 1999. Clinton was found not guilty on
    February 12, 1999 on two counts (perjury
    obstruction of justice) 55-45 and 50-50. A 2/3
    majority (67) votes were needed to convict and
    remove him from office.

SPARK notes Conclusions
  • Presidential paradoxes exist, which may account
    for our continual fascination with the
  • The roles of the President are wide and varied
    and our expectations of him are enormously high.
  • Although the power of the presidency has grown
    over Congress, Congress still can wield great
    power over the Executive branch as a whole.
  • Scandals have made the public more suspicious of
    presidential power and the media more likely to
    dig up whatever dirt they can.
  • Presidential rankings can be biased based upon
    the political leanings of those doing the
    ranking. But all in all, there is general
    agreement about the 10 best and 5 worst.