Can Meetings Solve Problems?

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The Vice President was quoted as saying, "A month or two, we have not had formal meetings, mostly cluster meetings."

One Palace adviser/aide made it clear, "It's up to the President, but even without formal meetings, there is a continuing consultation between the President and his Cabinet."

No formal powers

Our Cabinet institution is a direct descendant of the American Cabinet system. The Cabinet is not mentioned in the US Constitution and has no formal powers. It consists of the secretaries of the executive departments and others the president may designate, including the vice president, the ambassador to the UN, the CIA director, and the Special Trade Representative.

Bill Mitchell on Chief Justice Burger

"Re Burger, you would enjoy The Brethren by Bob Woodward. It is basically an inside look at the Burger court, including detailed mechanics about how a number of decisions were reached, including Roe v. Wade (1973 ruling on abortion) and some other well-known cases. It confirms the remarks you quoted about Burger, but in much greater detail."

Not a decision, but letter

Our Constitution mentions that a majority of the members of the Cabinet may transmit to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the President, in which the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. (Sec. 11, Art. VII, Constitution)

Promoting views

The Cabinet rarely functions as a decision-making body. They are powerful because they head giant administrative organizations. In the US, strong presidents seldom hold formal Cabinet meetings to decide important policy questions. They hold meetings only to help promote their views.


Presidents who have tried to use the Cabinet as a policy-making body have been disappointed. Washington was frustrated by the constant feuding between his secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and his secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson. …