American Presidency 2 Essay Research Paper American

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American Presidency 2 Essay, Research Paper American Presidency There are a number of different situations presidents face upon taking office that afford him the ability to exercise more or less power. All presidents will encounter different cycles during their stay in office, these cycles may come in a variety of forms: foreign policy shifts from isolationism to international involvement; the business cycle of economic growth followed by recession; the mood swing of public confidence in government followed by a retreat into private interests and cynicism. These cycles for the most part are beyond the control of the president; but do however; have an impact on presidential power. In short, there are times when conditions afford presidents considerable leverage and power. And

there are also times when presidents are not afforded much power. In times of change and social disruption, leadership skills will be different than in times of normality. For example in the years following the Vietnam Conflict and Watergate Scandal, the public turned against the government and presidential power. They were very skeptical and questioned everything the government did. Due to this existing condition, President Ford; and President Carter; had limited ability to exercise presidential power. In contrast, FDR benefited from a level of opportunity that was unusually high. He came into power when there was a strong demand for public power, and when Congress was willing to grant power to the president. Thus, for a while, FDR was able to exercise a good amount of power.

Skill is also an important aspect, but skill alone is never enough. For even the most skilled of individuals are faced with difficult situations. Skill can be used to measure the extent to which a president takes advantage of or is buried by circumstances. President Regan spoke of a window of opportunity, a means of talking about how an open or closed situation was the basis for exercising leadership. When the window is closed, that is, the opposite party controls Congress during a period of economic trouble, and low presidential popularity. Even the most skilled of presidents will be limited to what they can accomplish. However, when the window is open; even presidents of limited skill will have great political leverage, even though their skill base is smaller. What it boils

down to is the type of hand one is dealt. If a president is dealt a weak hand, there is only so much skill that he can contribute to what can be accomplished. Similarly, if a president is dealt a great hand, fortune may have more to do with what the president accomplishes. The question of when in politics must also be examined. A sense of political timing helps a president know when to move, when to retreat, when to push, and when to compromise. Strong twentieth-century presidents such as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Regan began with clear goals and pushed Congress to approve their bold new programs. A look at Reagan s honeymoon can be used as an example of getting the most out of early opportunities. During his transition, his key advisors put

together a narrow, focused agenda and initiated a public relations and legislative reaction that ended in the president gaining much of his early legislative agenda. Thus resulting in Reagan gaining power, making it easier for him to win subsequent contests, because Congress literally feared him. On the other hand, George Bush got of to a slow start and appeared more concerned with managing a response rather than shaping events. Bush s first one hundred days are described as him blending into the background, allowing Congress to set the national agenda. Bruce Miroff discusses the president s leadership as a spectacle, which may be used as a way to overcome limitations. Miroff says that the greatest source of influence for the president is public approval, is the reason why so