Origin of the term Term gained popularity in the early 1970s – Schlesinger – The Imperial Presidency He focused on what he saw as the abuse of power by Johnson (1963-69) and Nixon (1969-74) Also the growth of EXOP and saw the White House as coming to resemble a royal court with the President as a latter day emperor
Background Johnson and Nixon personified the imperial Presidency in the crises of Vietnam and Watergate Effective checks and balances? The executive branch had become dominant, Congress subservient Schlesinger – imperial Presidency was essentially the creation of foreign policy –looked to the President for leadership and this allowed successive Presidents to take advantage of the ambiguities of the Constitution in terms of war making powers. Founding Fathers – Constitution granted Congress the power to initiate military action (proactive); President reactive-supervise military action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NcIFss56dA
Johnson and Nixon Extended their war making powers from those intended by the FFs Before them Eisenhower sent troops to Lebanon without Congress’s authorisation 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution passed by Congress –blank cheque for Johnson for war Nixon – Vietnam and Cambodia. Watergate – enemies lists, bugging, wire tapping, and claims of executive privilege http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXmxfCvO7l A
Other Presidencies President Ford talked about an imperilled Presidency - identified 2 reasons for the change – erosion of party leadership in Congress and inability to control federal bureaucracy Reagan’s use of Presidential power - Iran Contra affair -selling arms to Iran and using the funds to support rebels in Nicaragua – both policies contravened congressional bans
Clinton Clinton – Healy focused on 2 areas in which he was imperial- treaty making power and war making power Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – USA would refrain from underground testing of nuclear weapons - rejected by Senate, but Clinton administration asserted that it was still in force Undeclared wars in Haiti, Bosnia and Serbia
George W. Bush Imperial Presidency reborn? Bush claimed that assertion of presidential authority were only a response to the events of 9/11 Many in his administration believed that Congress’s role was subsidiary when it comes to matters of national defence and security Later rebuffs –Congress refused to permanently extend the Patriot Act Was Bush presidential rather than imperial?
Conclusion Mervin – concept is a cliche implying he is a master of all he surveys and an emperor –is this the case? Definition –problematic concept and is often a label that is stuck on virtually all modern Presidents by their critics Obama – imperilled or imperial Presidency? Libya and the War Powershttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ rutKFRhxI