The Paradoxes of the American Presidency

By Thomas E. Cronin; Michael A. Genovese | Go to book overview
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The Presidential Job
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And people talk about the powers of a President, all the powers that a Chief Executive has, and what he can do. Let me tell you something--from experience! The President may have a great many powers given to him in the Constitution and may have certain powers under certain laws which are given to him by the Congress of the United States; but the principal power that the President has is to bring people in and try to persuade them to do what they ought to do without persuasion. That's what the powers of the President amount to.

Harry S. Truman, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 247

I find that when things go badly, it becomes our business. When the stock market goes down, letters are addressed to the White House. When it goes up, we get comparatively few letters of appreciation. But when you have high unemployment, it is because the President hasn't gotten the country moving again.

John F. Kennedy, quoted in H. W. Chase and A. H. Lerman, eds., Kennedy and the Press ( Crowell, 1965), pp. 426-27

You have heard about the man tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it, and his reply was that if it wasn't for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk.

Abraham Lincoln, reply to a friend who asked how it felt to be president, c. 1862


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The Paradoxes of the American Presidency


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