Presidential Frontiers: Underexplored Issues in White House Politics

By Ryan J. Barilleaux | Go to book overview

Chapter 3 Washington and/or Versailles: The White House as a Court Society

DANIEL P. FRANKLIN

This chapter is about the politics internal to the presidency. It is not, however, about an "imperial presidency." In the aftermath of the Nixon administration, Arthur Schlesinger wrote of The Imperial Presidency, suggesting that the power of the presidency had eclipsed the power of Congress and the courts ( Schlesinger , 1974). Recent events, subsequent to the end of the Cold War and the congressional elections of 1994, have demonstrated that Schlesinger's predictions of the demise of the separation of powers was premature. Therefore, in this chapter the politics of the royal court refers not to Schlesinger's Imperial Presidency but to the politics internal to the presidency that resemble a royal court.


WHAT IS A ROYAL COURT?

To define a "royal court" it is necessary to distinguish court politics from those of a legislature, bureaucracy, or corporation. A royal court is an organization centered around the authority of a single individual (see also Dexter 1977: 267-68). 1 Every person who holds a position in court is completely dependent for his or her place in the hierarchy on the individual in charge. A court is not a formal hierarchy. Formal titles, organizational charts, and formal rules of procedure do not generally give an accurate indication of where the real power of the organization lies. In that sense, courts are not highly institutionalized ( Polsby 1968: 145). They have little or no institutional memory. They have few permanent and fixed rules of procedure. Court politics are fluid--formed and reformed from one administration to the next and can, in fact, be completely reconstituted at the whim of the person in charge.

Thus, the court is not a bureaucracy. With structured organization, firm hi-

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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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