Presidential Frontiers: Underexplored Issues in White House Politics

By Ryan J. Barilleaux | Go to book overview

only, in Edwards' ( 1989) phrase, "at the margins" (also Bond and Fleisher 1990). Stephen Skowronek ( 1993) also finds that modern presidents are increasingly encumbered by legislative and administrative machinery. Earlier "presidency-centered" explanations of policy-making underestimated the effects of the legislature's independence from the executive and have thus generated expectations that the office cannot satisfy ( Lowi 1985: 151). David Mayhew ( 1991) and Charles O. Jones ( 1994) show that the separated system nevertheless continues to produce legislation. The separation of powers system constructs obstacles to presidential leadership, yet meets the exigencies of government through a flexible and competitive policy-making structure. This recent research shows, to use Wilson's formulation, that the "rough practice" of political life can be understood in light of the "literary theory" of the Constitution. Attempts to understand the "rough practice" without moorings in the Constitution's "literary theory," however, have led to "inflated" and false expectations from the presidential office.

There appear to be limits to what contemporary political science can accomplish in the study of the presidency on its own terms. Normative questions will probably continue to constitute a considerable part of the literature on the presidency. It is important, therefore, that political scientists appreciate the Founders' various reasons for separating the executive from the legislature. As long as political scientists see the separation of powers system merely as a means of thwarting policy despotism, the theoretical framework of their scientific inquiry will distort their findings. The separated constitutional structures hope to promote "energy" in the executive for the purposes of securing regular administration of the laws and circumspect presidential leadership. They seek to promote "stability" by providing the necessary conditions for deliberating on public policy matters. The separation of powers equips each branch to perform its appropriate functions effectively. Developments in the American polity may have changed how energetic, stable governance is secured by the separated system. Much recent political science literature points to the fertility of the marriage between normative and empirical work, but also suggests that a proper appreciation for the constitutional basis of the normative issues is the sine qua non of inquiry into the presidency.


NOTES
1.
Ceaser ( 1990: 193, 195) contends that the Constitution was not "intended to define fully the exact character of the policy-making process or to establish any one particular form of it." But critics of the Constitution nevertheless "attribute to the Founders and the Constitution a specific model of the policy-making process, which has usually been the model in existence at the time. Dissatisfied with the status quo, they have held the Founders responsible for it."
2.
References to The Federalist begin with the number of the paper and end with page reference to the Earle ( 1937) edition.

-17-

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Presidential Frontiers: Underexplored Issues in White House Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I - The First Frontier: The Nature of the Office 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Normative Study of the Presidency 3
  • Notes 17
  • Chapter 2 - The President as Representative 23
  • Notes 34
  • References 35
  • Chapter 3 Washington And/Or Versailles: the White House as a Court Society 37
  • References 51
  • Chapter 4 - Electing Presidents and Other Potentates 53
  • Part II - New Insights on Power and Policy 77
  • Chapter 5 - The Overlooked Relevance of the Pardon Power 79
  • References 96
  • Chapter 6 - The Presidency and Social Policy 99
  • References 114
  • Chapter 7 - The Other Side of War: Presidential Peace Powers 119
  • References 133
  • Chapter 8 - The President and Federal Reserve Nominations 135
  • References 146
  • Part III - New Political and Cultural Frontiers 149
  • Chapter 9 - The Presidency as a Cultural Pulpit 151
  • References 175
  • Chapter 10 - The Other Side of Power: Who Is Left Out of Presidential Rhetoric? 179
  • References 190
  • Chapter 11 - First Partner: First Ladies and Their Roles 195
  • Appendix 221
  • Notes 223
  • References 223
  • Afterword 227
  • References 230
  • Index 231
  • About the Contributors 235
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