Presidential Leadership

The Presidency
Institutions of National Government #5
The Chief Legislator
Actions: Bring attention to potential issues & laws, Asking
Congresspeople to propose laws, Putting pressure on votes.
President as Chief Legislator
“The Power of No”
Veto: President can reject
proposed legislation and
send a bill back to Congress
Pocket Veto: A president can
let a bill die by not signing it
when Congress adjourns within
10 days of submitting a bill.
Today, the threat of a veto is just as
President as Chief Legislator
• Legislative Skills
– Variety of forms:
bargaining, making personal
appeals, consulting with
Congress, setting priorities
in the State of the Union
– Most important is
bargaining with Congress.
– Presidents should use their
“honeymoon” period
– Sets Policy Agenda for
President as Chief Legislator
While the Constitution states the President can
suggest things to Congress nowhere does it say
they have to listen.
So where does it come from?
What resources does a President have?
Power vs. Leadership
•A resource that forces
and compels others to
do what you want them
to. There is a
punishment involved
for not following
•Power is FORMAL (has
a source) and STATIC
(remains unchanged
over time)
•A resources that
convinces others to do
what you want them
•Leadership is
INFORMAL (no written
source) and DYNAMIC
(changes based on
individual and
The Commander-in-Chief
Actions: Making war, Commanding the troops, Appointing Joint Chiefs
of Staff, Conducting a draft
President as Commander-in-Chief
• Writers of the
Constitution wanted
civilian control of the
• Presidents often make
important military
• Presidents command a
standing military and
nuclear arsenal—
unthinkable 200 years ago
President as Commander-In-Chief
Evolution of War Powers
Constitutional Basis of Shared Powers
Congress has power to declare war
President as Commander-In-Chief deploys troops, sets strategy, etc.
War Powers Resolution (1973)
Intended to limit the president’s use of the military (Vietnam)
Requires president to consult with Congress prior to using military force and
withdraw forces after 60 days unless Congress declares war or grants and
Presidents see the Resolution as unconstitutional. Argument that “declaring
war” is not the same as “conducting war.”
Supreme Court has “punted” the issue and labeled it a “political question.”
President as Commander-in-Chief
Crisis Management
•In a crisis the power
floats to the president.
–Need to speak with
one voice
–Current technology
•Crisis Management is
key to Presidential
Chief Diplomat
Actions: Negotiates treaties, United Nations, Forms alliances (NATO),
Appoints ambassadors, Visits other countries to strengthen relations,
Attends funerals of foreign leader
President as Chief Diplomat
• Negotiates treaties
with other countries
• Treaties must be
ratified by 2/3 vote
in the Senate
• Use executive
agreements to take care of routine matters with
other countries
• May negotiate for peace between other countries
• Lead U.S. allies in defense and economic issues
• Although President has the lead role in foreign
policy must work with Congress (power of purse)
Chief of Party
Actions: Set party agenda, Suggest party officials, Fundraise for
likeminded politicians
President as Chief of Party
• Party Leadership
– The Bonds of Party
• Being in the president’s party
creates a psychological bond
between legislators and
presidents, increasing
– Slippage in Party Support
• Presidents cannot always
count on party support,
especially on controversial issues.
– Leading the Party
• Presidents can offer party candidates support and
punishment by withholding favors.
• Presidential coattails occur when voters cast their ballots for
congressional candidates of the president’s party because
they support the president. Races are rarely won in this way.
Actions: Taking part in ceremonial duties, Conducting self in a
responsible manner, Shaking hands & kissing babies, Being the national
President as Symbol-In-Chief
• Earlier we discussed the difference between
power and leadership. One other important
distinction between the two is crucial to
understanding the Presidency
• Power has a written source (Constitution) and
because it has a source it is LIMITED
• Leadership does not have a written source and
because of this there are no limits to it when
used correctly.
• In essence the President receives “Power From
The People”
President as Symbol-In-Chief
• Public Support
– Public Approval
• A source of presidential leadership of Congress
• Public approval gives the president leverage, not
command; it does not guarantee success
– Mandates
• Perception that the voters strongly support the
president’s character and policies
• Mandates are infrequent, but presidents claim a
mandate anyway
President as Symbol-in-Chief
Going “Public”
Use of the “bully
Rallying public
Support for the President’s agenda
Head of State Functions
Symbolic but favorable coverage
President as Symbol-in-Chief
Presidential Approval
•Receives much effort by the White
•Product of many factors:
predispositions, “honeymoon,” rally
•Changes can highlight good or bad
President as Symbol-in-Chief
• Rallying Public Approval
– Policy Support
• Presidents attempt to gain public support through
televised messages, with little success
• The public may not be receptive to the president’s
message or misperceive it all together.
– Mobilizing the Public
• The president may attempt to motivate the public to
contact Congress.
• A difficult task, given inattentive and apathetic public
• May backfire: a lack of response speaks loudly
President as Symbol-in-Chief
• Use of the Media/Press
– Presidents and media are often adversaries.
– Media is often more interested in the person, not
the policies
– News coverage has become more negative
– Many people in the White House deal with the
media, but the press secretary is the main
contact person
When Press Briefings Go Wrong
So… Do you want the job?