The presidency revision cards


Types of Presidency

Imperial: Roosevelt-1970

President has a dangerous amount of power and can push through radical change e.g.- The New Deal 

Imperriled : After Watergate and Vietnam 

A distrust of the president after scandal leaving them with very little power 

Two presidents theory:

Freedom to act in most foreign affairs, as congress are more concerned with their constituents domestic concerns and do not want to seem unpatriotic. e.g.- Vietnam, Iraq, Syria

Reagan, Clinton, Bush jr and Obama were all popular at first then declined 

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US Cabinet

  • Usually not used for collective policy making (exception of Ike perhaps)
  • Generally presidents prefer to look to EXOP for advice, as it is more loyal.
  •   It has failed to develop as there is a limited choice (experienced congress members cannot be chosen, many would turn it down as it may hinder their career):the senate rejected John Tower for secretary of defense under Bush snr
  • There is also no control of cabinet structure as congress controls the creation and abolition: refused Nixon and energy dept. but created it under Carter who opposed it.
  • Lack of trust/lack of prior relationship with the president with more trusted alternatives: Obama: Axel Rod, Emmanuel, Plouffe and Rouse, Carter: Georgia Mafia, Nixon: Hadleman, Ehrlicman.
  • Lack of experience and collective responsibility:  under Bush jr Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill disagreed with second round of tax cuts, he was eventually dismissed.   
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The Spoils System


Appointing Party loyalists and donors to significant posts of government. 


More than 40% of Obama's donors have secured posts, most notable being Coleen Bell being appointed as ambassador to Hungary with no experience or knowledge 


The Civil Service comission was set up to make sure posts were awarded on merit 

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Vice President

  • Casting vote in the senate 
  • balanced tickets 
  • until 1977 was not seen as very important 
  • Bush snr under Reagan was in charge of the 'war on drugs' 
  • Cheney was seen as a 'co-president' 
  • Biden in charge of working families task force 
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Jobs In the Presidency

  •  The president is responsible for executing laws passed by congress and can occasionally propose measures. More recently expected to have programme and is commander in chief.
  • The vice president replaces the president in the event of death, resignation and has a tie breaking vote in the senate.
  • The cabinet are heads of departments created by congress and are responsible for managing depts., drawing up legislation, offering policy opinions etc.
  • EXOP are often regarded as the powerhouse of the modern presidency. 
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Presidential Veto

  • Can veto bills, but congress can override vetoes with 2/3rds

·     Pocket veto custom (not signing a bill until it times out)

  •  Nixon vetoed war powers resolution
  •   Line item veto (given to Clinton)

Truman: 180 Regular Vetos , 70 Pocket Vetos , 12 Overrides 

Ford: 48 Regular Vetos, 18 Pocket Vetos, 12 Overrides 

Reagan: 39 Regular Vetos, 39 Pocket Vetos, 9 Overrides 

Clinton: 36 Regular Vetos, 1 Pocket Vetos , 2 Overrides 

Obama: 8 Regular Vetos, 1 Pocket Vetos, 0 Overrides 

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The Federal Bureaucracy

Basic Facts:

  • The Federal Bureaucracy is the American Civil Serice
  • They implement laws and regulations
  • However they can delay and frustrate policy 
  • They can develop their own ideas and agenda, as change may threaten their power.

Their powers: 

  • Control of information
  • Expertise and Experience 
  • Permanence 

Examples of abuse of power:

  • Nixon and his close advisors complained about them fighting Nixpn's desire for change 
  • Henry Kissenger complained about liberal bias on foreign policy 

i agree with you but i don't think the government will- President Kennedy

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EXOP and their usefulness

  • The white house office offers trusted aides, often individuals who worked on their campaign therefore higher trust
  • Chief of staff organizes president’s time: Clinton had Panetta who restricted advice and organized structure etc. Obama had Emmanuel who was seen as tough, current chief of staff McDonough and has held previous posts.
  • Trusted advisors: Obama: Axelrod, Plouffe and Rouse.
  • NSA provides independent advice free from cabinet influences
  • NSC provides advice on military and foreign policy. Consists of president, vice president, NSA, secretaries of state and defense: during war on terror moderate Colin Powell clashed with Rumsfeld and Cheney.
  • OMB play central role in drawing up president’s budget, crucial to formulation of economic policy: Reagan: David Stockman was in charge of cuts, Panetta under Clinton did the first budget. Cabinet dept. proposals are examined by OMB.
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Refers to rewards and benefits for groups/sections of the population that offer political support. 


  • Farmers getting subsidies for ethanol 
  • Obama rewarding women with pro- choice policy 
  • Obama rewarding immigrants by supporting bilingual education and granting citizenship for parents of American born latinos 
  • Obama rewardig Trade Unions 


It is said to impose restrictions on the White House 

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Problems and Limitations of EXOP

  •  Too big: Clinton was over 5oo compared to Roosevelt 50
  • Overlap/conflicts with cabinet depts.: OMB and Treasury, NSA and secretary of state (Rice and Powell). Cabinet members complain they are frozen out by EXOP.
  •  Conflict within EXOP: OMB and council of economic advisers, split during early Obama between Emmanuel and Michelle.
  • Sealing off presidents: Nixon: Ehrlichman and Hadleman, Bush Jr: Rove, Card (heavily criticised that insular white house lead to press mistakes over hurricane Katrina)
  • Aides are inexperienced/ incompetent: Georgia Mafia under Carter
  • Aides too trusted/ abuse of power: Nixon’s aides and the Watergate scandal 
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Purpose of US Cabinet

  • Some have been very influential: the big four (state, defense, treasury and attorney general), Condelezza  Rice under Bush Jr (Iraq military strategy)  Obama with Clinton and his treasury heads
  • Cabinet composition sends out an important message to public and party: Clinton sought to make his cabinet ‘look like America’ with minorities and women, Bush Jr appointed Hispanic Colin Powell followed by African American Condelezza Rice. Can be used to send a message to special interest groups, agriculture is often given to someone with close links with farming, Hilary Clinton as secretary of state united the party.
  •  Cabinet changed send a message: Rumsfeld under bush cabinet as criticism for Iraq war increased
  • Cabinet secretaries are needed as effective administrators and specialist: Steven Chu Obama’s first energy secretary is a noble prize winning scientist who pushed for the development of alternative energy strategies. 
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Independent agencies and commissions

  • Setup by congress to carry on specific tasks: NASA, EPA, CIA, NSA
  •  They reflect the expansion of federal government in a wide range of areas, particularly from the Roosevelt.
  • They are free from presidential and congressional control
  • They are open to congressional scrutiny; however controversy over powers of the NSA would suggest this does not happen as often as it should  
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Different Styles and use of EXOP

  • Nixon's hierarchy: Organized, quick decision making, restricted advice 
  • Early Clinton: Teamwork, open access, lots of alternative advice, lengthy/ hesitant decision making
  • Reagan/Bush Jr: delegation of work load, president can focus on bigger issues and set big agenda, more open to abuse of power from EXOP
  • Obama: Extensive detailed briefing, hesitant decision making, well informed 
  • Roosevelt: pitting advisers against each other
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