Powers within the Job


The President of the United States is assigned certain Constitutional powers.  These are along the lines of the President being issued the title of Chief Executive, his Legislative powers, powers in Foreign Affairs, his title of Commander in Chief and Chief of State.  The two major powers within the President’s Legislative powers include recommending legislation at the State of the Union and his power to Veto or deny a bill.  The veto power is the power granted to the executive to prevent against overreaching by the legislature. With the stroke of his pen, the President can prevent the enactment of a law, even if only temporarily, while Congress attempts to attain the supermajority needed to pass over the veto.  Among the president’s constitutional powers is the appoincapitol-building-clipartting of important public officials; presidential nomination of federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another significant power is to grant a full or conditional pardon to anyone convicted of breaking a federal law, except in a case of impeachment. The pardoning power has come to embrace the power to shorten prison terms and reduce fines.

While the Constitution gives a perfectly clear outline of what the Presidential powers are, Richard Neustadt’s would condense the many titles down to three main things: public prestige, professional reputation, and most of all the power to persuade.  “A new president had to learn that power in America was wielded most effectively by the separated branches acting together. He had to get Congress on his side, and concentrate on going where his opponents might be willing to follow.”  Neustadt claims these three things are linked in what the President’s authority consists of, and that not only do they “derive from constitutional authority but also from his reputation and prestige in Washington, the country and abroad.”  “The essence of a President’s persuasive task is to convince such men that what the White House wants of them is what they ought to do for their sake and on their authority” (30).  Neustadt would define the power to persuade essential for influencing policy, not to command for when the President would begin to command it would mean that he was showing weakness.

In contrast between the Constitutional powers written out for the President, Neustadt would, while agreeing with some of the President’s Constitutional powers would strongly disagree to the main power of Commander and Chief. “The president’s primary power is to persuade and bargain, not to command. When a president has to resort to commanding people, he is showing weakness. Commands only work in very special circumstances.”  Neustadt would go about this situation with bargaining for what he should do for his country. What the President should be doing for his country, given to him Constitutionally, is expected to be the representative of all the people. Neustadt would go into depth and agree that, “Public prestige deals with the president’s popular support outside Washington. (With reputation, people anticipate the reactions of the president; with prestige, they anticipate the reactions of the voters.)”

The views of a historian compared to the Constitution itself, would not only agree with most of the powers given to the President, but also would go into depth in why he believes that the way the President should command is with persuasion and bargaining.

Marissa Rucker


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