I. Public Expectations of the President
a. Public Expectations of the President (Simon)
i. Image based expectations
1. The desirable personal traits of presidents and how they should conduct themselves in office
a. Stems from ceremonial nature of the presidency and the ideal authority figure projected in textbooks (textbook presidency)
a. Expectations of how presidents should behave is high and exaggerated
b. Potentially contradictory expectations – must be all things to all people
ii. Performance based expectations
1. What the president should accomplish; represents the public belief that the president is equipped to influence conditions and events in the real world.
a. Stems from change in the institution of the presidency
i. Tulis -> Rise of the rhetorical presidency with Wilson caused this
ii. Gamm and Smith -> Going public began with T.Roosevelt
iii. LOWI (this is the one he believes) -> FDR; because he marginalized the political party and established a direct and unmediated relationship with the people
2. Consequences of performance based expectations
a. Helps to understand fluctuations in public support: public holds president accountable for a lot of things, even if he has no direct control over them.
b. Presidents are the blame for bad outcomes
c. The political value of public support has altered presidential politics
i. Kernell: The growth of the welfare state, demise of parties as mediators between president and public, and technological advances in communication and travel have created this new type of presidential power based on public opinion.
d. Presidents usually fail at enacting major policy changes (Light calls the “no-win” presidency) and causes problems with performance based expectations.
II. Leading the public
a. The 2 Constitutional Presidencies (Tulis)
i. Formal Presidency – Article II of Constitution
ii. Informal Presidency (start w/Wilson)
iii. The Founding perspective on the presidency
1. Danger of a powerful executive who had power derived from role of popular leader (demagogue)
2. Demagogue may be good if means to a good end, so how to structure institutions to force this to be the only possible demagogue?
a. Good policy over bad policy
i. Fear of majority tyranny or unwise majority
ii. Established popular elections for some posts and some indirect elections (to prevent a poorly qualified/regime instability)
iii. Different term lengths
iv. Authority/formal powers from Constitution to insulate them from say-to-day swings in public opinion
1. Madison/Hamilton/Federalist papers – Presidency was intended to be representative of the people and not responsive to popular will
c. Independence of executive
i. Created ability for president to hold diff opinions from congress
d. Separation of powers
i. Nuestadt: Founders created separate institutions sharing power; preserving liberty by preventing arbitrary rule of any one center of power.
iv. Modern Perspective (Wilson)
1. Rhetorical presidency
a. Separation of powers has failed to promote deliberation in Congress and energy in executive – no cooperation
i. Wilson wanted institutionally structured cooperation not negative checks (over-rides and vetoes)
i. Wilson gave great weight to role of public opinion and have ideas formulated by the masses
ii. Founders – deliberation = reasoning on merits of policy
iii. Wilson – deliberation = major contests of principle and public not engaged; hidden in subcommittees -> and this is not public deliberation or representation.
c. Independence of executive
i. Founders – presidential authority comes from constitution
ii. Wilson – presidents have a national mandate, their power comes from that (this is the 2nd constitution)
1. Interpretation of national mandate:
a. Understand the true majority sentiment under conflicting positions
b. Must explain the people’s true desire to them clearly and convincingly
2. How to distinguish demagogue from rhetorical president/leader?
a. Character of leader
i. Demagogue: augment personal power
ii. Leader: interests of community
b. Nature of appeal
i. Demagogue: momentary/transitory passions of people
3. Founders believed presidents drew energy from their authority, which came from independent constitution
a. Wilson believed power and authority are conferred by the people:
i. 2nd constitution
1. presidents have to craft rhetoric to appeal to public
2. presidents have to use public opinion to get their rhetoric turned into action by Congress
3. This viewpoint came to power because presidents lacked resources to get energy for action from formal authority.
ii. Example of all this: Reagan ->
1. Won tax reform by skillful rhetoric and legislative strategy to overcome lobbied by gaining backing of public which produced deliberation in Congress.
2. Budget cuts of 1981 were done by gaining backing of public and eliminated deliberation within Congress.
iii. Bush tried to do this re: Iraq
1. Example of a mistake where presidents tried to cover mistakes with rhetoric (aka Monica and Clinton scandal)
2. Tried to simplify a complex argument to something the people could understand to make it rhetorically effective
a. Because this is what the 2nd constitution requires
3. Which resulting in credibility issues
b. Leading the public (Edwards)
i. Gaining and maintaining office, obtaining support for legislation and increasing party’s representation in Congress depend on public opinion
1. Kernell: White House spends lots of time/resources focusing the public on the issues it wants to deal with and having the public see the solutions to the issues in a good light.
ii. Presidents are unlikely to change public opinion but they can exploit it (key from White House stance is controlling the agenda)
1. Framing the issues: a central organizing ideal for making sense of an issue or conflict and suggests what the controversy is about and what is at stake.
2. Changing what the public thinks most about
a. Clarify public opinion -> it’s amorphous and presidents can clarify it
c. Understanding the Rhetorical Presidency (Birnes)
i. Edwards – going public rarely moves a national audience
ii. Historical patterns of presidential rhetoric (Tulis)
1. The presidency underwent a transition with Wilson – his doctrine of popular leadership represented a major shift from the founding perspective
a. Founders sought to prohibit presidential popular leadership
i. Example: Jackson’s impeachment after trying to rally the public to his position towards former confederates in 1866 is an example of what happened when presidents tried to go public.
2. After Wilson, presidents shifted from constitutional rhetoric to inspirational rhetoric
a. Wilson expanded the doctrine of popular leadership by including an informal second constitution
i. Because of the informal second constitution, the rhetorical presidency arose
3. Starting with Wilson, presidents began to change their tone to be for public consumption
iii. Rhetorical presidency isn’t a good thing:
1. Layers second constitution on top of first
2. Presidents have to navigate through the two, often conflicting, constitutions
3. Presidential addresses have degraded in quality
iv. Critiques of the rhetorical presidency
1. Challenge claim that constitution prohibited popular leadership
a. Framers didn’t prohibit popular leadership
b. Electoral College wasn’t intended to be a restraint on popular leadership
c. Constitution doesn’t prohibit popular leadership.
2. Early rhetorical practice
a. Presidents attempted to use tours and popular appeals before Wilson
3. Wilson’s doctrine of popular leadership
a. Wilson didn’t really argue for popular leadership, he was ambiguous about it.
4. Tulis misdefines rhetoric in “rhetorical presidency”
a. The definition of rhetoric is too narrow, so it is midefined and no true.
d. Does Presidential rhetoric matter?
1. President’s reliance on public rhetoric persuades public sometimes, but at the cost of short-circuiting bargaining and deliberation (Tulis/Kernell)
2. Although going public might not influence the public, you can influence agenda setting and spending priorities.
3. Going public can draw attention to certain issues/change public perception about certain issues
e. The symbolic presidency and impact of rhetoric
i. Stuckey and Antczak: Presidential rhetoric can make certain identities and self-conceptions of citizens more prominent and can shape how citizens understand the issues facing the country and the role of the presidency in the political system.
ii. Zarefsky: Presidential rhetoric is important because it attempts to define political reality for the public
iii. Kernell: If everyone goes public, the public will tune out and not respond.
f. The Paradox of White House Communications (Jacobs)
i. Problem: High public expectations of president and limited ability to meet those expectations because of Congress and entrenched interests
1. Standard approach: Going public – Appeal directly to American people in hopes people will pressure Congress
ii. Clinton’s first term: Aides traced problems to: Hostile media coverage and team’s failure to bring journalists into a crafted media flow
1. Example: Health Care reform: Opposition successfully painted it as more taxes and more government control and recruited reporters better than White House
2. So the media was able to reduce Clinton’s policy initiatives to “getting reelected” or simply ignored them.
iii. How to overcome problems Clinton had?
1. Launch a communications war to control message through speeches/activities that would dominate press reporting – they see the press as helping them to mobilize their political power (a full time rhetoric manufacturing plant is needed at WH to help manage this)
iv. Interaction of media and politicians has 3 patterns:
1. Escalation in presidential communications concerning favorable initiatives to increase number of reports on them
2. President’s decision to say more results in rise of interviews with independents, experts and critics
a. When conflict over a particular issue is low, conflicting viewpoints in news and media coverage remain low
b. Example: Clinton on Social Security: he didn’t focus on one pragmatic solution, but focused on making sure everyone was involved and press reports were more substantive and less focused on opposition views because they showed a shared search for common ground between Reps and Dems
3. When presidents declare a communications war to promote a contentious policy, the press stops substantive reporting and moves to motivations, intentions, and strategic behavior of WH – which is what the WH wants to avoid.
a. Example: Clinton’s attempt to pound home message on health care provoked strong political counteraction that resulted in rise of unfriendly press coverage and reports on political strategy
b. This is a special type of belligerence by President
c. Trying to dominate press coverage and promote policies in good light leads to:
i. Political opposition
ii. Press coverage of opposition and strategy – not substance **This is what presidents want to avoid
v. The confidence of presidents and their advisors in their ability to dominate press coverage produces 2 surprises
1. Fixation on potential benefits of media warfare blinds them to downsides (political damage)
2. Results in wasted opportunities and political deadlock
vi. So they should learn to use a less confrontational approach to gain more benefits
1. Not abandoning speaking and going public, but instituting cooperative leadership to:
a. Share spotlight with others so not focuses on negative attention
b. Use platform to accommodate competing points of view and highlight a compromise (downplay conflict)
i. This will result in increased press coverage and coverage of substantive issues
III. The Legislative Presidency
a. Legislative Skills (Wayne)
i. Legislative skills are the tactics a president uses to convince members of Congress to support their policy initiatives
ii. Legislative skills are needed b/c expectations (performance expectations) for presidents combined with systematic constraints (constitutional and institutional) and political constraints impede president’s ability to achieve expectations.
iii. Neustadt: The essence of a president’s persuasive task is to get them to believe what he wants them to believe by getting them to think it is in their own interests to do so.
iv. Structural Instruments of Presidential influence:
1. Agenda settings: campaigns and state of the union addresses are 2 big things showing how President’s set the agenda.
2. Prioritizing items in the agenda: Making Congress know how strongly a president feels about an item can make it harder/easier to get it through – urgent/less urgent
3. Packaging items: In a manner that contributes to their enactment in the form and with the content desired – this involves getting the public involved/setting frames
4. Timing: Time introduction so as not to overload Congress, basing timing on need of influence (it takes time to build up influence to get agenda going)
5. Position taking: To influence Congress the president must have clear positions
6. Threatening Vetoes: designed as leverage in negotiations, but they must be credible
v. Interpersonal tactics:
1. Interact with Congressional leaders
2. Failure to reach out to Congress lessens the likelihood that the policies will become law in the form and content desires
3. Contact and consultation
4. Bargaining and compromising
5. Rewards and sanctions
b. Veto Bargaining (Cameron)
i. The veto enables presidents to influence legislative outcomes
ii. Divided government does not make governing impossible, it simply encourages more bargaining
iii. Analyzes all 434 vetoes from Truman to Bush, emphasis on how veto rates are affected by unified or divided government as well as the relative importance of a piece of legislation.
1. Vetoes are rare under unified government
2. When a government is divided and legislation is important:
a. Vetoes are not rare
b. Vetoes are often part of veto chains – sequential bargaining process between Congress and President
c. Presidents routinely use vetoes to extract policy concessions from congress (80% of his cases, Congress made some sort of concession)
iv. Builds on Neustadt’s idea that presidential reputation is critical to bargaining power.
v. Agrees with Mayhew’s claim that divided government does not decrease legislative productivity but argues that divided government does influence the nature of those laws passed – more veto bargaining happens
vi. Preference driven approach
vii. Three models of Veto Bargaining
1. Romer-Rosenthal model (take it or leave it bargaining) – President and Congress have complete information; Cameron wants to replace this because It is too simple. But despite the simplicity – it suggests that the power to veto can shape the content of legislation even if vetoes are never used.
2. Override model: Three players (floor median, the president, the override pivot); used when the floor median is closer to the override pivot than to the president. The floor will design a bill that it knows will be vetoed, but hopes to override the veto. The focus is not on the president, but the override pivot.
a. Assumes that the ideal point of any potential override player is much closer to that of the congressional majority than the president’s ideal point.
b. Congress will not make concessions with the president because the goal is to override the president
c. There is the probability of a breakdown after the veto – that the bill simply dies and never gets reformulated and passed: Cameron says this possibility reflects the importance of the bill
3. Sequential Veto Bargaining: Used when the president’s ideal point is closer to the floor median than the override pivot. Congress will try to pass something acceptable to the president. In this, Congress amends the bill at each round (in Model 2, failure to override is poor luck, here failure to override is necessary). Each veto reveals information about the president’s true ideal point so Congress modifies its proposals accordingly.
a. Cameron says the uncertainty of the president’s ideal point is related to the president’s reputation
i. Played when the president’s ideal point is closer than the override’s pivot point.
viii. Application of the Models: Congress is more productive under unified government than under divided government; during divided government a few items are taken off the legislative table that would have found a place under unified government, then those are often resolved with lengthy haggling.
IV. Bureaucracy and Management
a. Lewis (2006) Presidents and the Bureaucracy: Management Imperatives in a Sep. of Powers System
i. President must manage federal bureaucracy because it is a source of political power
1. Bureaucracy is important because it makes decisions about national security, economy, the environment and citizens; and Congress is delegating more and more power to it.
ii. Vesting clause: The executive power shall be vested in the president (but no clues about what the “executive power” really is)
iii. Modern view: President is obligated to direct the national bureaucracy in order to faithfully execute the laws; the president needs to control the administrative apparatus of the government.
iv. President attempts to gain control over bureaucracy by:
3. Unilateral executive action
4. Budgetary review
a. Influence budget because presidents draft it
5. Executive reorganization
v. Example: Bush and DHS
1. Bush wanted managerial flexibility at DHS
2. All presidents want more authority
3. Presidents want more control over bureaucracy because they want people who will obey them.
4. Why did Congress not stop Bush?
a. It’s hard for Congress to restrain the President on national security issues
b. Although all members of Congress have interest in restricting Presidential authority, the president’s own party has less interest
c. Electoral issues made it clear to Congress that they needed to support president in national security matters
5. Presidents who are going to be held accountable for what the bureaucracy does want control over the agencies.
b. Historical changes in bureaucracy:
i. 1829: Jackson said that the federal jobs were limited in scope and prerequisite requirements.
ii. Patronage practices: gave congress control over bureaucratic personal because presidents were beholden to parties to get elected.
iii. This was weakened when Congress divided into policy-based committees
iv. Great Depression and WWII; Congress delegated more power over bureaucracy to President
v. Civil service was professionalized and institutionalized.
c. Rose: A Chief But Not an Executive
i. The president is a chief – a leader with unique personal attributes
ii. Staff must look after his personal and political priorities and policy character to keep negative priorities out of spotlight and keep president out of trouble
1. Establish a buffer institution to stand between himself and problem
2. Avoid establishing institutions that will deliver controversy to Oval office.
iii. There are 2 major choices a president can make, organizationally
1. Size of his staff
a. Dictated by the function the president serves
b. The larger the staff the greater aggregate resources the president has to influence the executive branch
c. The larger the staff the less person interaction a president has with each member
2. Clarity with which responsibility is fixed for tasks
a. The more adept a president is at giving instructions to the intuitions, the greater his political impact
b. The greater the clarity he assigns tasks, the greater the economy of time and effort.
c. The greater the clarity with which he assigns tasks, the fewer sources of information the president has about an issue
i. Time is purchased at the cost of knowledge
ii. Overlapping tasks offer multiple views on issues
iii. Too many advisors means being pulled in too many directions.
iv. These result in 4 types of organizations
1. Absolute Monarchy
a. Large staff, clean hierarchy of tasks and responsibilities – not feasible with this size of government
a. Large staff, overlapping tasks (Johnson/Nixon)
b. Thought behind this: If you throw enough staff at a problem, with enough different attempts, something will stick
c. Assumes that more = better
d. Extra political costs because you have to control in-fighting and internal politics.
3. Rule of Law Feudalism *Seen as an appropriate choice depending on extent president wants to consolidate or extend influence.
a. Clearly defined tasks and small staff 9Eisenhower)
b. A contract between top man and staff details relationship – enforced by common acknowledgment of the rule of law.
c. Feudal model – the president’s power is limited
d. By making fewer claims, the country will be better governed.
e. Even though the president isn’t getting involved, he is still subject to having his alternatives foreclosed by concentrating the channels of power into fewer people
4. Free Enterprise *Seen as an appropriate choice depending on extent president wants to consolidate or extend influence.
a. Overlapping tasks, small staff
b. FDR: master of this type of governance
c. JKF tried to do this too
d. Protects the president from being constrained by the flow of information by having overlapping areas
e. Based on assumption that the constitution does not make the president the sole source of authority within the executive branch – not the sole object of blame.
v. President must use his staff to establish his priorities:
1. Establish reputation
a. Presentation of self
b. When large #s support the president he can get Congress to more easily follow him
c. How effective he is on the hill
d. Housekeeping – hoe the President lives
2. Political priorities: the course of action the president feels the government should take
a. These two are positive priorities, and he needs relatively few resources to meet these
i. Examples: During Eisenhower’s heart attacks and Watergate, the executive branch continued to function without direction from the president, so executive agencies really aren’t his concern.
3. Negative priorities
a. Keeping out of trouble
b. Program implementation
c. Program evaluation
d. Inter-agency coordination (brings problems to president)
e. Inter-governmental coordination (federalism concerns)
i. Can solve these by having a buffer agency to keep the President out of things
ii. He can also engage in abstention
1. Not taking a policy on initiatives he’s not committed too
3. Stating views in a vague, non-directive forms
d. Moe: The Politicized Presidency
i. Modern presidents politicize administrative arrangements and centralize policy related concerns in WH
ii. Politicization: commonly disliked for its effects on institutional memory, expertise, professionalism, objectivity, and institutional competence
iii. Centralization: disliked because it circumnavigates institutions and places and relies on WH
iv. How institutions develop
1. Environment shapes path of institutional development because it dictates structures, incentives and resources
2. Institutions will only change when there are the right incentives
v. What development means to institutional presidency
1. Huge gaps between performance expectations and capacity of president to meet expectations
2. Modern presidents are driven by all the expectations to seek control/order over the bureaucracy because he has limited constitutional powers and needs the help of the institutions
3. 2 main directions of change to encourage responsive competence from institutions so president can keep going
a. Increasing centralization of the institution presidency in the WH because then he can count on support from his own people
b. Increase politicization of the institutional system
i. Attractive because its anchored in formal presidential power – appointment power – and can use it to reach all areas – not just the WH
ii. Congress tends to oppose attempts to do this
1. Institutional presidency began with Budget Act of 1921 -> created Bureau of Budget who submitted budgets to Congress, was intended to help rationalize chaotic budget process of Congress.
2. FDR couldn’t deal with the BB sp he became WHY centric when the institutions couldn’t help him reach his goals
3. In his second term he brought the BB under the executive office – OMB
4. Truman and Eisenhower – had to work with the institutions they were given and then had to grow and enlarge the WH competence by formalizing and elaborating on the practices of the past
5. Reagan made a drive to congruence
a. Congruence = bringing the centralization of institutions and politicization of institutions together in an institutional presidency
vii. Standard Criticisms re politicization and centralization de-bunked
1. Centralization and politicization are denounced because:
a. Claim they undermine and circumvent the competence of established institutions
b. Inhibit development of new sources of institutional support
c. Shift decision making responsibilities to those least capable of handling them
i. So instead recommendations are administrative in nature that are aimed at respecting/nurturing neutral competence and organizational integrity (normative)
viii. Conclusion: Moe view the presidency as an institution whose development is driven by incongruence among structures, incentives and resources.
ix. Basis for incongruence in American politics is the expectations of the president far exceed his ability to perform
x. So president has strong incentive to maximize his capacity to do things by initiating reforms and making adjustments in the administrative apparatus around them
xi. But because of inflexibility, lack of resources, constraints of political and bureaucratic opposition, institutions inertia and time pressures: presidents go for areas of greatest flexibility and change – politicization and centralization
xii. Politicization and centralization have grown over time because of the nature of the institutions and the role/location of the presidents within them (systematic causes)