Paradox of the Presidency
• Expectations of the president are large
• But the Constitution gives only limited formal authority
• Hence…expectations often exceed (formal) resources
sometimes informal powers can help president to meet expectations
The Executive Branch
Article II: “The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States.”
• Formal Powers:
• Executive power
• Faithfully implement & administer the law
• military.the only person can technically start a war
• Make treaties (two-thirds of Senate to conﬁrm)
• Appoint judges & major executive branch ofﬁcials
• branch ofﬁcials: check by senate-Advice and consent of the Senate (i.e.,majority
vote); conﬁrm or disconﬁrm by senate that validates the presidents appointment
• it's tough for congress to stop the veto
so usually it's going to the ﬁnal
• 2/3 in congress to override,that is a super majority.imagine how painful it will
be for the congress.
Presidents have expanded their authority over time
The President as Commander-in-Chief
• The Constitution declares the president to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
• But ONLY CONGRESS can declare war.
…What to do?
Presidents have the advantage:
• Only President can commit (deploy) troops
President makes ﬁrst move,congress can not
• need congress to authorize the money spending-congress's holdback process
• the only thing congress can do.the important check. • Can Congress refuse support?
• Not essential to have a formal declaration of war (e.g.,Korea & Vietnam)
• Citizens rally around President in a crisis
• rally around: to unite or assemble in support of someone or something
• Efﬁciency of decision making-one person making decision
War Powers Act of 1973
-48 hours,60 days
• Presidents routinely ignore it (e.g.,Grenada,Somalia,Kosovo)
• Has not been tested in the courts
The President As Head Diplomat
-"half symbolic,half policy"
• both shaking hands and shaping policies
• “…to receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers”
• Two-Thirds majority of the Senate to ratify treaties-Senate's check
• using Executive Agreements can go around this
The President As Chief Executive
• “The executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States…”
“…take care that the laws be faithfully executed”
• Constitution does not deﬁne these powers
• Leads to implied powers that are inferred
"how far those executive power stands?-not speciﬁc"
"president is the top of executive power"
-> so what are the concrete ways the president execute power
Much discretion given to Presidents [⾃自由裁量权]
• Executive privilege
• president's ability to withhold / give information
• e.g.Nixon Watergate-Nixon if not directing of it,but has full knowledge of it
• Increased use of Executive Orders (domestic policy) & Executive Agreements (international
• Do not require Congressional approval
Full power of the law
-> constraints: cannot violate the established congressional approved law/statue
The President As Legislator The Constitution gives presidents only a modest role in the legislative arena.
• May call Congress into special session.
• Veto laws.
• Must report “from time to time”to Congress with State of the Union address.
• Veto bills passed by Congress
• Congress can override with 2/3rds majority
• Powerful negative weapon
• Real veto: it is hard for congress to get to 2/3 majority
• Threat of veto: may get Congress to adjust
• Use of veto may also suggest failure to persuade
• Passed in 1996,used in 1997,& then declared unconstitutional in 1998
• Most states grant this power to their Governors
-to pass certain lines.
Factors Shaping Presidential Power
• Party control in Congress
your party is the majority in congress or not
• Time in a President’s term
• early on a president's registration-easier to get things done
• president relatively more popular early on
• haven't have ability to do things in the ofﬁce to get criticized
• Lame Duck
• A lame duck is an elected ofﬁcial who is approaching the end of his or her
tenure,especially one whose successor has already been elected.
• Lame Duck ofﬁcials tend to have less political power,as other elected ofﬁcials
are less inclined to cooperate with them.However,lame ducks are also in the
peculiar position of not facing the consequences of their actions in a subsequent
election,giving them greater freedom to issue unpopular decisions or
• The Election cycle
• reelection of congress affects president
• fear to get things done being fearful to give issue to the opp