Both Ends of the Avenue: The Presidency, the Executive Branch, and Congress in the 1980s

Both Ends of the Avenue: The Presidency, the Executive Branch, and Congress in the 1980s

Both Ends of the Avenue: The Presidency, the Executive Branch, and Congress in the 1980s

Both Ends of the Avenue: The Presidency, the Executive Branch, and Congress in the 1980s

Excerpt

According to the Congressional Research Service -- and who should know better? -- the distance along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Capitol Hill is approximately a mile and a half. Physically, the distance is not very great; any reasonably fit tourist can walk it in half an hour. But politically, of course, the distance is much greater. The Founding Fathers did not want the relationship between president and Congress to be an easy one, and they succeeded in this as in. so much else.

Any time is a good time to explore the presidential -- congressional relationship, which is intrinsically fascinating as well as being of crucial importance for the whole American political system; but the early 1980s seem an especially apt time. The presidency is no longer under the clouds of Vietnam and Watergate, but Congress has changed enormously over the past twenty years, not least because of Vietnam and Watergate; and inevitably changes in Congress have produced changes: of equal magnitude in that institution's relations with the presidency and the executive branch generally. The dynamics of this new presidential -- congressional relationship -- or "conversation," as several writers in the following pages term it -- is the subject of this book. Each chapter explores a different aspect of the presidential -- congressional relationship. The book as a whole seeks to impose coherence on something that is, and was meant to be, incoherent.

Richard Neustadt taught students of American politics a generation ago to think of the presidency and Congress in terms, not of separation of powers but of separated institutions sharing powers. As will emerge, the theme of this book is partly one of sharing but more one of separateness.

Anthony King . . .

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