How important is the US cabinet?
The cabinet is not even mentioned in the Constitution, although the 25th amendment lays down a procedure to be followed in the case of the President’s incapacity, the only mention is a possible group of advisers which the President may take advice from. However, despite this, since George Washington, every President has had a cabinet even though some have held meetings more frequently than others.
The UK government is a plural executive and therefore are more reliant upon the cabinet, meetings are held every week. Whereas the US is a singular executive and meetings can be held as little as the President wishes, Kennedy for example felt that cabinet meetings were usually unproductive: “Why should the post-master sit there and listen to a discussion of the problems of Laos?” For this reason, there has been an increase in the use of “Kitchen cabinets” meetings are held on a bi-lateral basis, some meetings aren’t relevant to some departments.
In the US the cabinet is an advisory body only, in the final analysis the president consults whom he wishes and may choose to ignore the advice of the cabinet, Lincoln was famously quoted: “seven noes, one aye-the ayes have it”. The American Cabinet does not contain party notables, they do not have a place in the legislature and so they are of little assistance to the president in pushing his programme through Congress. An American cabinet bears little relation to…