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The imperial presidency
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  • 2. Origin of the term Term gained popularity in the early 1970s –Schlesinger –The Imperial Presidency He focused on what he saw as the abuse ofpower by Johnson (1963-69) and Nixon(1969-74) Also the growth of EXOP and saw theWhiteHouse as coming to resemble a royal courtwith the President as a latter day emperor
  • 3. Background Johnson and Nixon personified the imperialPresidency in the crises ofVietnam and Watergate Effective checks and balances?The executive branchhad become dominant, Congress subservient Schlesinger – imperial Presidency was essentially thecreation of foreign policy –looked to the Presidentfor leadership and this allowed successive Presidentsto take advantage of the ambiguities of theConstitution in terms of war making powers. Founding Fathers – Constitution granted Congressthe power to initiate military action (proactive);President reactive-supervise military action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NcIFss56dA
  • 4. Johnson and Nixon Extended their war making powers from thoseintended by the FFs Before them Eisenhower sent troops to Lebanonwithout Congress’s authorisation 1964 Gulf ofTonkin resolution passed byCongress –blank cheque for Johnson for war Nixon –Vietnam and Cambodia. Watergate –enemies lists, bugging, wire tapping, and claimsof executive privilege http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXmxfCvO7lA
  • 5. Other Presidencies President Ford talked about an imperilledPresidency - identified 2 reasons for thechange – erosion of party leadership inCongress and inability to control federalbureaucracy Reagan’s use of Presidential power - IranContra affair -selling arms to Iran and usingthe funds to support rebels in Nicaragua –both policies contravened congressional bans
  • 6. Clinton Clinton – Healy focused on 2 areas in whichhe was imperial- treaty making power andwar making power ComprehensiveTest BanTreaty – USA wouldrefrain from underground testing of nuclearweapons - rejected by Senate, but Clintonadministration asserted that it was still inforce Undeclared wars in Haiti, Bosnia and Serbia
  • 7. George W. Bush Imperial Presidency reborn? Bush claimedthat assertion of presidential authority wereonly a response to the events of 9/11 Many in his administration believed thatCongress’s role was subsidiary when it comesto matters of national defence and security Later rebuffs –Congress refused topermanently extend the Patriot Act Was Bush presidential rather than imperial?
  • 8. Conclusion Mervin – concept is a cliche implying he is amaster of all he surveys and an emperor –isthis the case? Definition –problematic concept and is oftena label that is stuck on virtually all modernPresidents by their critics Obama – imperilled or imperial Presidency?Libya and the WarPowershttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQrutKFRhxI