It Ought to Be Easier to Change Presidents This Scandal Should Alter Attitudes about the Office

By Weaver, Kent | The Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

It Ought to Be Easier to Change Presidents This Scandal Should Alter Attitudes about the Office


Weaver, Kent, The Christian Science Monitor


If the US had a parliamentary system, the Clinton presidency would already have been consigned, in Augustine Birrell's felicitous phrase, to the great ash heap called history.

In parliamentary systems, the head of government and head of state are different offices. The head of state is usually a powerless figurehead, like Britain's (and Canada's and Australia's) Queen Elizabeth; sometimes an excruciating embarrassment, like Austria's Kurt Waldheim; occasionally a symbol of national pride, like the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel.

Usually they're elected for fixed terms or, in constitutional monarchies, until they die or abdicate. And when they do go, the impact on policymaking is usually minimal. Heads of government are a different story. They must maintain the confidence of their legislature, and of their own party. If they don't, they're out. New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger was recently deposed in a Cabinet coup for the horrific sin of being unpopular with the electorate. Others, like Canada's Brian Mulroney and Britain's Margaret Thatcher, met the same fate, although sometimes with the face-saving facade of voluntary resignation. Scandal, too, - financial, sexual, or otherwise - can do in prime ministers. Think of poor Willy Brandt, who had the misfortune of having an East German spy as a top adviser. And in countries where coalition governments are the norm, one or more parties in the coalition may withdraw their support, causing the prime minister and his or her government to resign. In Italy, it's as common as eating pasta. Not in the US. In this country, we elect presidents for fixed terms. And the president is viewed as a symbol of national unity - even when elected with a plurality of the vote. Thus residents stay in office even when they are incapacitated, like Woodrow Wilson, or discredited, like Herbert Hoover. Absent a smoking gun that makes impeachment politically viable, a wounded president can stay in office until the end of his term. Proponents of a shift to parliamentary institutions, like Lloyd Cutler, have long viewed the difficulty of getting rid of presidents who have outlived their usefulness to the country as one of the central weaknesses of our current institutions. It doesn't need to be that way. And it's time for a change. No, not a change in our institutions. The hurdles to changing our Constitution make even considering such a move a waste of time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It Ought to Be Easier to Change Presidents This Scandal Should Alter Attitudes about the Office
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.