The President's Cabinet: An Analysis in the Period from Wilson to Eisenhower

By Richard F. Fenno | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Cabinet and Reform

F OR people concerned with improving the operation of the American political system, the Cabinet is a perennial object of affection. They see it as a feeble, inactive institution which should be revitalized, reinvigorated, and engaged in more profitable pursuits. The end in view varies, as does the assessment of present conditions from which each reform proposal springs. Particular panaceas vary from the introduction of Cabinet government to the construction of a Cabinet building.1 But the failure to analyze the Cabinet within the going political system has been a constant. The Cabinet has always been approached as an object to be manipulated, and not as a subject to he understood. Some brief Cabinet's-eye observations, then, may put various reform ideas in a better perspective. Without passing final judgments or making program recommendations, an inquiry can be made into how some of the proposals might affect the Cabinet and its fundamental relationship to the President.

Reform suggestions involving the Cabinet fall into two categories. One places a heavy emphasis on the improvement of legislative-executive relations. The other focuses on the improved organization of the Presidency. Within each category the scope of the plans scales from sweeping to moderate. Some students, doubting the adequacy of the American political system to meet new problems, seek basic reorganization. Others, less anxious about its adaptability, seek modifications within the existing Structure.2

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