The Presidency A White House Paradox for the '90S: The Presidency Is an Executive Office with More - and Less - Real Power Than at Any Other Time in United States History

By Marshall Ingwerson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 1992 | Go to article overview

The Presidency A White House Paradox for the '90S: The Presidency Is an Executive Office with More - and Less - Real Power Than at Any Other Time in United States History


Marshall Ingwerson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


EVEN major candidates, none of whom really need the work, are campaigning for the job. Yet once won, the presidency is very likely to grow even more demanding than it is now as the 1990s advance.

The next two terms, says presidential scholar Erwin Hargrove of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., "will be very frustrating for whoever wins."

The recession will probably end. But the weight of unmet problems - in education, roads and other aging amenities, reform of the health-care system, and the ever-growing burden of public debt - still piles up at the White House door.

And some of the traditional tools a president has to solve them are obsolete.

Historically, one tool of persuasion has been the political party. For all but four years since 1968, the American government has been split, with the presidency and at least one chamber of Congress in the control of opposing parties. But even if a Democrat wins the White House and the party continues to control Congress, the party discipline of a generation ago is only a memory.

Just as the candidates for president are independent political entrepreneurs, with little reliance on their parties, so the president himself has become more autonomous, with fewer ties he can call on. Congressmen, too, are more independent, owing less allegiance to party leadership.

"The president must act as a sort of chief whip," says Ryan Barilleaux, a political scientist at Miami University in Ohio. This means rounding up votes one at a time, issue by issue.

Some argue that the end of the cold war kicks foreign affairs - an arena where a president has the most autonomous power - out of its center-ring status. Thus the White House becomes weaker, less important. The counterargument is the Gulf war and its lesson that the post-cold-war world is still a dangerous place, with the president at its nerve center.

If foreign affairs continue to give the president a prominent and flattering role as commander in chief, the terrible simplicity of the cold war is gone. Managing world affairs, says Marc Landy, a political scientist at Boston College, has become "dire but more difficult day to day."

While attention is more riveted on domestic concerns, even after the unemployment level drops, these will be increasingly difficult for the president to take strong action against.

"The legacy of the deficit does make the job well nigh impossible," says Dr. Landy.

As Ronald Reagan was taking office, political scientists were asserting that the presidency had become an impossible job. The expanding expectations piled onto a president as the symbolic leader of the country combined with immense practical difficulties in getting anything done.

Reagan's comfort in the role and his conservative initiatives gave the lie to theories of the impossible presidency.

But a new view of the job emerged during the Reagan years, a view sometimes called the "post-modern presidency." It means an electronic presidency where the chief executive can use the airwaves and communicate directly to rally and sway the public, over the heads of Congress and the federal bureaucracies. …

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

The Presidency A White House Paradox for the '90S: The Presidency Is an Executive Office with More - and Less - Real Power Than at Any Other Time in United States History
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

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

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.