The Presidency: An Impossible Job? White House photo in public domain Dr C Harlen, University of Leeds Recent Presidents Have All Failed in Some Way • • • • Military problems: Johnson, Nixon, G.W.Bush Economic problems: Nixon, Ford, Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush Misconduct in office: Nixon, Clinton Lack of policy knowledge: Reagan Potential Explanations for Failure • Faulty selection process • Poor judgment of electorate • Overly difficult job Selection Process: Lengthy and Expensive • Candidates announce 1 year before primaries • Increased use of primaries instead of caucuses. • Frontloading of primaries • End of reliance on public funding • These factors restrict who runs Does the Public Make Inappropriate Choices? President’s current roles: foreign policy, work with Congress to pass legislation. Overall: 25 of 44 presidents had Congress experience (57%) versus 2 out of last six (33%) Governors mainly. Qualified to be president? Powers of the President Alone as Head of State • Slight similarities with governor’s role • Commander in chief vs. control of state national guard. • Represents government. Government of California photo in public domain Powers Involving Work with Legislature Common • Powers of appointment. • Passing legislation with approval of legislature. Different • Making treaties as head of state (+ 2/3 Senate approval) • Governors often control issues public care about most Powers of President Alone as Head of Government Not Involving Foreign Policy • • • • • Granting reprieves and pardons Convening State of the Union Address Ensuring laws are faithfully executed Wielding ‘executive power’ Appointing officials Is the Job Too Demanding? Jimmy Carter: Beginning and soon after presidency The Secret to Looking Younger: Leaving the Presidency! President as Head of State and Government Creates High Expectations! Source: U.S. National Portrait Gallery education use allowed Mount Rushmore, South Dakota As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain Head of State Role Creates Great Expectations ‘The president we get is the country we get...’ Novelist E.L. Doctorow, 2004 Presidents Can Also Use the Historic Presidency As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain Compared with Prime Ministers • Less assured support in legislature usually. • Less unified cabinet. Presidents’ Party Often Doesn’t Control Both Branches of Congress 1951 53, 55 1961 1965 1969 1974 1977 1981 1989 1993 1995 2001 2003 2007 2009 11, 13 Truman D EisenhowerR Kennedy D Johnson D Nixon R Ford R Carter D Reagan R G.H.W.Bush R Clinton D Clinton D G.W.Bush R G.W.Bush R G.W.Bush R Obama D Obama D D D D D D D D D D D R R R D D R D R D D D D D R D D R Varied R D D D Challenges of the Presidency: Managing the Government • Over 3 million civilian employees, 1.4 million active military. • 7,000 political appointments alone (a government of strangers). • No collective responsibility of cabinet. Conclusion • Presidents do not necessarily have or need congressional experience • Inflated expectations of the president problematic. • President heads large organisation with no guarantees of loyalty. • Lack of success not surprising.