President of the United States

President of the United States
President of the
United States of America
Flag of the President of the United States of America.svg
Presidential Standard
Seal Of The President Of The United States Of America.svg
Presidential Seal
Barack Obama

since January 20, 2009
Style Mr. President[1]
The Honorable[2]
His Excellency[3][4]
(diplomatic, outside the U.S.)
Residence White House
Term length Four years
renewable once
Inaugural holder George Washington
April 30, 1789
Formation United States Constitution
March 4, 1789
Salary $400,000 annually
Website The White House

The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the executive power of the United States in the president and charges him with the execution of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, and to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances.[5] Since the founding of the United States, the power of the president and the federal government have grown substantially[6] and each modern president, despite possessing no formal legislative powers beyond signing or vetoing congressionally passed bills, is largely responsible for dictating the legislative agenda of his party and the foreign and domestic policy of the United States.[7] The president is frequently described as the most powerful person in the world.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

The president is indirectly elected by the people through the Electoral College to a four-year term, and is one of only two nationally elected federal officers, the other being the Vice President of the United States.[14] The Twenty-second Amendment, adopted in 1951, prohibits anyone from ever being elected to the presidency for a third full term. It also prohibits a person from being elected to the presidency more than once if that person previously had served as president, or acting president, for more than two years of another person's term as president. In all, 43 individuals have served 55 four-year terms.[15] On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the 44th and current president.



United States

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In 1776, the Thirteen Colonies, acting through the Second Continental Congress, declared political independence from Great Britain during the American Revolution. The new states, though also independent of each other,[16] recognized the necessity of coordinating their efforts against the British.[17] Desiring to avoid anything that remotely resembled a monarchy, Congress negotiated the Articles of Confederation to establish a weak alliance between the states.[16] As a central authority, Congress under the Articles was without any legislative power; it could make its own resolutions, determinations, and regulations, but not any laws, nor any taxes or local commercial regulations enforceable upon citizens.[17] This institutional design reflected the conception of how Americans believed the deposed British system of Crown and Parliament ought to have functioned with respect to the royal dominion: a superintending body for matters that concerned the entire empire.[17] Out from under any monarchy, the states assigned some formerly royal prerogatives (e.g., making war, receiving ambassadors, etc.) to Congress, while keeping the rest for themselves. The Articles took effect on March 1, 1781, when the final state of Maryland ratified the document.

In 1783, the Treaty of Paris secured independence for the former colonies. With peace at hand, the states each turned toward their own internal affairs.[16] By 1786, Americans found their continental borders besieged and weak, their respective economies in crises as neighboring states agitated trade rivalries with one another, witnessed their hard currency pouring into foreign markets to pay for imports, their Mediterranean commerce preyed upon by North African pirates, and their foreign-financed Revolutionary War debts unpaid and accruing interest.[16] Civil and political unrest loomed. Aiming toward a first step of resolving interstate commercial antagonisms, Virginia called for a trade conference in Annapolis, Maryland, set for September 1786. When the convention failed for lack of attendance due to suspicions among most of the other states, the Annapolis delegates called for a convention to offer revisions to the Articles, to be held the next spring in Philadelphia. Prospects for the next convention appeared bleak until James Madison and Edmund Randolph succeeded in securing George Washington's attendance as a delegate to Philadelphia.[16]

When the Constitutional Convention convened in May 1787, the 12 state delegations in attendance (Rhode Island was absent) brought with them an accumulated experience over a diverse set of institutional arrangements between legislative and executive branches from within their respective state governments. Most states maintained a weak executive without veto or appointment powers, elected annually by the legislature to a single term only, sharing power with an executive council, and countered by a strong legislature.[16] New York offered the greatest exception, having a strong, unitary governor with veto and appointment power elected to a three-year term, and eligible for reelection to an indefinite number of terms thereafter.[16] It was through the closed-door negotiations at Philadelphia that the presidency framed in the U.S. Constitution emerged.

Powers and duties

Article I legislative role

Obama signing legislation at the Resolute desk.

The first power the Constitution confers upon the president is the veto. The Presentment Clause requires any bill passed by Congress to be presented to the president before it can become law. Once the legislation has been presented, the president has three options:

  1. Sign the legislation; the bill then becomes law.
  2. Veto the legislation and return it to Congress, expressing any objections; the bill does not become law, unless each house of Congress votes to override the veto by a two-thirds vote.
  3. Take no action. In this instance, the president neither signs nor vetoes the legislation. After 10 days, not counting Sundays, two possible outcomes emerge:
    • If Congress is still convened, the bill becomes law.
    • If Congress has adjourned, thus preventing the return of the legislation, the bill does not become law. This latter outcome is known as the pocket veto.

In 1996, Congress attempted to enhance the president's veto power with the Line Item Veto Act. The legislation empowered the president to sign any spending bill into law while simultaneously striking certain spending items within the bill, particularly any new spending, any amount of discretionary spending, or any new limited tax benefit. Once a president had stricken the item, Congress could pass that particular item again. If the president then vetoed the new legislation, Congress could override the veto by its ordinary means, a two-thirds vote in both houses. In Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such a legislative alteration of the veto power to be unconstitutional.

Article II executive powers

War and foreign affairs powers

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, successfully preserved the Union during the American Civil War.

Perhaps the most important of all presidential powers is command of the United States armed forces as commander-in-chief. While the power to declare war is constitutionally vested in Congress, the president commands and directs the military and is responsible for planning military strategy. The framers of the Constitution took care to limit the president's powers regarding the military; Alexander Hamilton explains this in Federalist No. 69:

The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. ... It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces ... while that [the power] of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all [of] which ... would appertain to the legislature.[18] [Emphasis in the original.]

Congress, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, must authorize any troop deployments longer than 60 days, although that process relies on triggering mechanisms that have never been employed, rendering it ineffectual.[19] Additionally, Congress provides a check to presidential military power through its control over military spending and regulation.

Along with the armed forces, the president also directs U.S. foreign policy. Through the Department of State and the Department of Defense, the president is responsible for the protection of Americans abroad and of foreign nationals in the United States. The president decides whether to recognize new nations and new governments, and negotiates treaties with other nations, which become binding on the United States when approved by two-thirds vote of the Senate.

Although not constitutionally provided, presidents also sometimes employ "executive agreements" in foreign relations. These agreements frequently regard administrative policy choices germane to executive power; for example, the extent to which either country presents an armed presence in a given area, how each country will enforce copyright treaties, or how each country will process foreign mail. However, the 20th century witnessed a vast expansion of the use of executive agreements, and critics have challenged the extent of that use as supplanting the treaty process and removing constitutionally prescribed checks and balances over the executive in foreign relations. Supporters counter that the agreements offer a pragmatic solution when the need for swift, secret, and/or concerted action arises.

Administrative powers

The president is the chief executive of the United States, putting him at the head of the executive branch of the government, whose responsibility is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The executive branch has over four million employees, including members of the military.[20]

Presidents make numerous executive branch appointments: an incoming president may make up to 6,000 before he takes office and 8,000 more during his term. Ambassadors, members of the Cabinet, and other federal officers, are all appointed by a president with the "advice and consent" of a majority of the Senate. Appointments made while the Senate is in recess are temporary and expire at the end of the next session of the Senate.

The power of a president to fire executive officials has long been a contentious political issue. Generally, a president may remove purely executive officials at his discretion.[21] However, Congress can curtail and constrain a president's authority to fire commissioners of independent regulatory agencies and certain inferior executive officers by statute.[22]

The president possesses the ability to direct much of the executive branch through executive orders. To the extent the orders are grounded in federal statute or executive power granted in the U.S. Constitution, these orders have the force of law. Thus, executive orders are reviewable by federal courts or can be rendered null through legislative changes to statute.

Juridical powers

The president also has the power to nominate federal judges, including members of the United States courts of appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. However, these nominations do require Senate confirmation. Securing Senate approval can provide a major obstacle for presidents who wish to orient the federal judiciary toward a particular ideological stance. When nominating judges to U.S. district courts, presidents often respect the long-standing tradition of Senatorial courtesy. Presidents may also grant pardons and reprieves, as is often done just before the end of a presidential term.

Historically, two doctrines concerning executive power have developed that enable the president to exercise executive power with a degree of autonomy. The first is executive privilege, which allows the president to withhold from disclosure any communications made directly to the president in the performance of executive duties. George Washington first claimed privilege when Congress requested to see Chief Justice John Jay's notes from an unpopular treaty negotiation with Great Britain. While not enshrined in the Constitution, or any other law, Washington's action created the precedent for the privilege. When Richard Nixon tried to use executive privilege as a reason for not turning over subpoenaed evidence to Congress during the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), that executive privilege did not apply in cases where a president was attempting to avoid criminal prosecution. When President Bill Clinton attempted to use executive privilege regarding the Lewinsky scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), that the privilege also could not be used in civil suits. These cases established the legal precedent that executive privilege is valid, although the exact extent of the privilege has yet to be clearly defined. Additionally, federal courts have allowed this privilege to radiate outward and protect other executive branch employees, but have weakened that protection for those executive branch communications that do not involve the president.[23]

The state secrets privilege allows the president and the executive branch to withhold information or documents from discovery in legal proceedings if such release would harm national security. Precedent for the privilege arose early in the 19th century when Thomas Jefferson refused to release military documents in the treason trial of Aaron Burr and again in 1876 in Totten v. United States, when the Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by a former Union spy.[24] However, the privilege was not formally recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court until United States v. Reynolds (1953) where it was held to be a common law evidentiary privilege.[25] Before the September 11 attacks, use of the privilege had been rare, but increasing in frequency.[26] Since 2001, the government has asserted the privilege in more cases and at earlier stages of the litigation, thus in some instances causing dismissal of the suits before reaching the merits of the claims, as in the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan.[25][27][28] Critics of the privilege claim its use has become a tool for the government to cover up illegal or embarrassing government actions.[29][30]

Legislative facilitator

Representing the executive branch of government, the president cannot simultaneously hold a seat in Congress. Therefore, the president cannot directly introduce legislative proposals for consideration in Congress. The president, however, can take an indirect role in shaping legislation, especially if the president's political party has a majority in one or both houses of Congress. For example, the president or other officials of the executive branch may draft legislation and then ask senators or representatives to introduce these drafts into Congress. The president can further influence the legislative branch through constitutionally mandated, periodic reports to Congress. These reports may be either written or oral, but today are given as the State of the Union address, which often outlines the president's legislative proposals for the coming year.

According to Article II, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution, the president may convene either or both houses of Congress. If both houses cannot agree on a date of adjournment, the president may appoint a date for Congress to adjourn.

Ceremonial roles

President Woodrow Wilson throwing out the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day, 1916

As head of state, the president can fulfill traditions established by previous presidents. William Howard Taft started the tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in 1910 at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., on the Washington Senators' Opening Day. Every president since Taft, except for Jimmy Carter, threw out at least one ceremonial first ball or pitch for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series, usually with much fanfare.[31]

Other presidential traditions are associated with American holidays. Rutherford B. Hayes began in 1878 the first White House egg rolling for local children.[32] Beginning in 1947 during the Harry S. Truman administration, every Thanksgiving the president is presented with a live domestic turkey during the annual national thanksgiving turkey presentation held at the White House. Since 1989 when the custom of "pardoning" the turkey was formalized by Ronald Reagan, the turkey has been taken to a farm where it will live out the rest of its natural life.[33]

Presidential traditions also involve the president's role as head of government. Many outgoing presidents since James Buchanan traditionally give advice to their successor during the presidential transition.[34] Ronald Reagan and his successors have also left a private message on the desk of the Oval Office on Inauguration Day for the incoming president.[35]

During a state visit by a foreign head of state, the president typically hosts a State Arrival Ceremony held on the South Lawn, a custom begun by John F. Kennedy in 1961.[36] This is followed by a state dinner given by the president which is held in the State Dining Room later in the evening.[37]

Selection process

George Washington, the first President of the United States


Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution sets the principal qualifications one must meet to be eligible to the office of president. A president must:

  • be a natural born citizen of the United States;[38]
  • be at least thirty-five years old;
  • have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years.

A person who meets the above qualifications is still disqualified from holding the office of president under any of the following conditions:

  • Under the Twenty-second Amendment, no person can be elected president more than twice. The amendment also specifies that if any eligible person who serves as president or acting president for more than two years of a term for which some other eligible person was elected president, the former can only be elected president once. Scholars disagree whether anyone no longer eligible to be elected president could be elected vice president, pursuant to the qualifications set out under the Twelfth Amendment.[39]
  • Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, upon conviction in impeachment cases, the Senate has the option of disqualifying convicted individuals from holding other federal offices, including the presidency.[40]
  • Under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Constitution prohibits a person from becoming president who swore an oath to support the Constitution and later rebelled against the United States. However, the Congress, by a two-thirds vote of each house, can remove the disqualification.

Campaigns and nomination

The modern presidential campaign begins before the primary elections, which the two major political parties use to clear the field of candidates before their national nominating conventions, where the most successful candidate is made the party's nominee for president. Typically, the party's presidential candidate chooses a vice presidential nominee, and this choice is rubber-stamped by the convention.

Nominees participate in nationally televised debates, and while the debates are usually restricted to the Democratic and Republican nominees, third party candidates may be invited, such as Ross Perot in the 1992 debates. Nominees campaign across the country to explain their views, convince voters and solicit contributions. Much of the modern electoral process is concerned with winning swing states through frequent visits and mass media advertising drives.

Election and oath

A map of the United States showing the number of electoral votes allocated to each state; 270 electoral votes are required for a majority out of 538 overall.

Presidents are elected indirectly in the United States. A number of electors, collectively known as the Electoral College, officially select the president. On Election Day, voters in each of the states and the District of Columbia cast ballots for these electors. Each state is allocated a number of electors, equal to the size of its delegation in both Houses of Congress combined. Generally, the ticket that wins the most votes in a state wins all of that state's electoral votes and thus has its slate of electors chosen to vote in the Electoral College.

The winning slate of electors meet at its state's capital on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, about six weeks after the election, to vote. They then send a record of that vote to Congress. The vote of the electors is opened by the sitting vice president, acting in his capacity as President of the Senate and read aloud to a joint session of the incoming Congress, which was elected at the same time as the president.

Pursuant to the Twentieth Amendment, the president's term of office begins at noon on January 20 of the year following the election. This date, known as Inauguration Day, marks the beginning of the four-year terms of both the president and the vice president. Before executing the powers of the office, a president is constitutionally required to take the presidential oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.[41]

Although not required, presidents have traditionally palmed a Bible while swearing the oath and have added, "So help me God!" to the end of the oath. Further, though no law requires that the oath of office be administered by any specific person, presidents are traditionally sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States.

Tenure and term limits

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four terms before the adoption of the Twenty-second Amendment.

The term of office for president and vice president is four years. George Washington, the first president, set an unofficial precedent of serving only two terms, which subsequent presidents followed until 1940. Before Franklin D. Roosevelt, attempts at a third term were encouraged by supporters of Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt; neither of these attempts succeeded. In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt declined to seek a third term, but allowed his political party to "draft" him as its presidential candidate and was subsequently elected to a third term. In 1941, the United States entered World War II, leading voters to elect Roosevelt to a fourth term in 1944.

After the war, and in response to Roosevelt being elected to third and fourth terms, the Twenty-second Amendment was adopted. The amendment bars anyone from being elected president more than twice, or once if that person served more than half of another president's term. Harry S. Truman, who was president when the amendment was adopted, and so by the amendment's provisions exempt from its limitation, also briefly sought a third (a second full) term before withdrawing from the 1952 election.

Since the amendment's adoption, four presidents have served two full terms: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush sought a second term, but were defeated. Richard Nixon was elected to a second term, but resigned before completing it. Lyndon B. Johnson was the only president under the amendment to be eligible to serve more than two terms in total, having served for only fourteen months following John F. Kennedy's assassination. However, Johnson withdrew from the 1968 Democratic Primary, surprising many Americans. Gerald Ford sought a full term, after serving out the last two years and five months of Nixon's second term, but was not elected.

Vacancy or disability

Vacancies in the office of president may arise under several possible circumstances: death, resignation and removal from office.

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution allows the House of Representatives to impeach high federal officials, including the president, for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 gives the Senate the power to remove impeached officials from office, given a two-thirds vote to convict. The House has thus far impeached two presidents: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither was subsequently convicted by the Senate; however, Johnson was acquitted by just one vote.

Under Section 3 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the president may transfer the presidential powers and duties to the vice president, who then becomes acting president, by transmitting a statement to the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate stating the reasons for the transfer. The president resumes the discharge of the presidential powers and duties when he transmits, to those two officials, a written declaration stating that resumption. This transfer of power may occur for any reason the president considers appropriate; in 2002 and again in 2007, President George W. Bush briefly transferred presidential authority to Vice President Dick Cheney. In both cases, this was done to accommodate a medical procedure which required Bush to be sedated; both times, Bush returned to duty later the same day.[42]

Under Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the vice president, in conjunction with a majority of the Cabinet, may transfer the presidential powers and duties from the president to the vice president by transmitting a written declaration to the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate that the president is unable to discharge the presidential powers and duties. If this occurs, then the vice president will assume the presidential powers and duties as acting president; however, the president can declare that no such inability exists and resume the discharge of the presidential powers and duties. If the vice president and Cabinet contest this claim, it is up to Congress, which must meet within two days if not already in session, to decide the merit of the claim.

The United States Constitution mentions the resignation of the president but does not regulate the form of such a resignation or the conditions for its validity. Pursuant to federal law, the only valid evidence of the president's resignation is a written instrument to that effect, signed by the president and delivered to the office of the Secretary of State.[43] On August 9, 1974, facing likely impeachment in the midst of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the only president ever to resign from office.

The Constitution states that the vice president becomes president upon the removal from office, death or resignation of the preceding president. If the offices of president and vice president both are either vacant or have a disabled holder of that office, the next officer in the presidential line of succession, the Speaker of the House, becomes acting president. The line then extends to the president pro tempore of the Senate, followed by every member of the Cabinet in a set order.


Presidential pay history
Date established Salary Salary in 2009


September 24, 1789 $25,000 $566,000
March 3, 1873 $50,000 $865,000
March 4, 1909 $75,000 $1,714,000
January 19, 1949 $100,000 $906,000
January 20, 1969 $200,000 $1,175,000
January 20, 2001 $400,000 $487,000

The president earns a $400,000 annual salary, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment.[47][48] The most recent raise in salary was approved by Congress and President Bill Clinton in 1999 and went into effect in 2001.

The White House in Washington, D.C. serves as the official place of residence for the president; he is entitled to use its staff and facilities, including medical care, recreation, housekeeping, and security services. Naval Support Facility Thurmont, popularly known as Camp David, is a mountain-based military camp in Frederick County, Maryland used as a country retreat and for high alert protection of the president and his guests. Blair House, located next to the Old Executive Office Building at the White House Complex and Lafayette Park, is a complex of four connected townhouses exceeding 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of floor space which serves as the president's official guest house and as a secondary residence for the president if needed.[49]

For ground travel, the president uses the presidential state car, which is an armored limousine built on a heavily modified Cadillac-based chassis.[50] One of two identical Boeing VC-25 aircraft, which are extensively modified versions of Boeing 747-200B airliners, serve as long distance travel for the president, and are referred to as Air Force One while the president is on board.[51][52] The president also uses a United States Marine Corps helicopter, designated Marine One when the president is aboard.

The United States Secret Service is charged with protecting the sitting president and the first family. As part of their protection, presidents, first ladies, their children and other immediate family members, and other prominent persons and locations are assigned Secret Service codenames.[53] The use of such names was originally for security purposes and dates to a time when sensitive electronic communications were not routinely encrypted; today, the names simply serve for purposes of brevity, clarity and tradition.[54]


Group portrait of five presidential men in dark suits and ties
Presidents George H. W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on January 7, 2009.

Beginning in 1959, all living former presidents were granted a pension, an office and a staff. The pension has increased numerous times with Congressional approval. Retired presidents now receive a pension based on the salary of the current administration's cabinet secretaries, which is $191,300 as of 2008.[55] Some former presidents have also collected congressional pensions.[56][dead link] The Former Presidents Act, as amended, also provides former presidents with travel funds and franking privileges.

Until 1997, all former presidents, and their families, were protected by the Secret Service until the president's death. The last president to have lifetime Secret Service protection is Bill Clinton; George W. Bush and all subsequent presidents will be protected by the Secret Service for a maximum of ten years after leaving office.[57]

Some presidents have had significant careers after leaving office. Prominent examples include William Howard Taft's tenure as Chief Justice of the United States and Herbert Hoover's work on government reorganization after World War II. Grover Cleveland, whose bid for reelection failed in 1888, was elected president again four years later in 1892. Two former presidents served in Congress after leaving the White House: John Quincy Adams was elected to the House of Representatives, serving there for seventeen years, and Andrew Johnson returned to the Senate in 1875. John Tyler served in the provisional Congress of the Confederate States during the Civil War and was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives.

Presidents may use their predecessors as emissaries to deliver private messages to other nations,[58] or as official representatives of the United States to state funerals and other important foreign events.[59] Richard Nixon made multiple foreign trips to countries including China and Russia, and was lauded as an elder statesman.[60] Jimmy Carter has become a global human rights campaigner, international arbiter and election monitor, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton has also worked as an informal ambassador, most recently in the negotiations that led to the release of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea. Clinton has also been active politically since his presidential term ended, working with his wife Hillary on her presidential bid.

Currently there are four living former presidents:

Presidential libraries

Each president since Herbert Hoover has created a repository known as a presidential library for preserving and making available his papers, records and other documents and materials. Completed libraries are deeded to and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); the initial funding for building and equipping each library must come from private, non-federal sources.[citation needed] There are currently thirteen presidential libraries in the NARA system. There are also a number of presidential libraries maintained by state governments and private foundations, such as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which is run by the State of Illinois.

As many presidents live for many years after leaving office, several of them have personally overseen the building and opening of their own presidential libraries. Some even making arrangements for their own burial at the site. Several presidential libraries therefore contain the graves of the president they document, such as the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda California and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The graves are viewable by the general public visiting these libraries.[citation needed]


Criticism of the presidency generally falls into one of the following categories:

Presidency is too powerful 
Most of the nation's Founding Fathers expected the Congress, which was the first branch of government described in the Constitution, to be the dominant branch of government; they did not want or expect a strong executive.[61] However, numerous critics describe the presidency today as too powerful,[62][63] unchecked, unbalanced,[64] and "monarchist" in nature.[65] Critic Dana D. Nelson believes presidents over the past thirty years have worked towards "undivided presidential control of the executive branch and its agencies."[66] She criticizes proponents of the unitary executive for expanding "the many existing uncheckable executive powers – such as executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements – that already allow presidents to enact a good deal of foreign and domestic policy without aid, interference or consent from Congress."[66] Constitutional scholars have criticized excessive presidential power[67] and described presidents as "constitutional dictators" with "an incentive to declare emergencies" to assume "quasi-dictatorial powers."[68] David Sirota sees a pattern that "aims to provide a jurisprudential rationale for total White House supremacy over all government."[69][70] Another critic wrote that the expanded presidency was "the greatest threat ever to individual freedom and democratic rule."[71]
Images and public relations 
Some argue that images of the presidency have a tendency to be manipulated by administration public relations officials as well as by presidents themselves. One critic described the presidency as "propagandized leadership" which has a "mesmerizing power surrounding the office";[72] another described the aura surrounding the presidency with the word "cult."[70] Administration public relations managers staged carefully crafted photo-ops of smiling presidents with smiling crowds for television cameras; in one instance of a televised photo-op, viewers were influenced by images and not by the story.[73] One critic wrote the image of John F. Kennedy was described as carefully framed "in rich detail" which "drew on the power of myth" regarding the incident of PT 109[74] and claimed that Kennedy understood how to use images to further his presidential ambitions.[75] Even presidential funerals are staged affairs with high production values to give an impression of "regal grandeur".[76] As a result, political commentators believe that American voters have unrealistic expectations of presidents: voters expect a president to "drive the economy, vanquish enemies, lead the free world, comfort tornado victims, heal the national soul and protect borrowers from hidden credit-card fees."[77]
Deficit spending 
Few presidents over the past hundred years have been adept at keeping spending within limits. Presidents who promised to rein in spending had difficulty controlling budgets.[78] The long-term historical pattern has been for the nation to have moderate surpluses except during recessions or wars, and this pattern lasted until the 1980s.[79] Reagan increased substantial deficits without a recession or war, and budget deficits as a percentage of the GDP climbed from 1.6% in 1979 to 4.0% to 6.0% for most of the 1980s,[80] although there was a four-year period of surpluses beginning 1998 during the tenures of Clinton and Bush. After 9/11, spending returned under Bush and remained high.[80] In 2009, the budget office estimated total federal debt would reach $12 trillion, including interest payments of $565 billion, or 4 percent of GDP.[81] In the first decade of 2000, $632 billion was added to the budget.[82] In 2009, the United States may be forced to borrow nearly $9.3 trillion over the next ten years, according to one estimate.[83] A critic and senator warned this "clearly creates a scenario where the country's going to go bankrupt."[83] Obama inherited a budget deficit in 2009 of a staggering 10% of GDP.[80] The high levels of federal employment brought about by Roosevelt's New Deal have held steady relative to increased economic output and population. In 1962, for example, there were 13.3 federal civilian employees in the executive branch per 1,000 population, while in 2007 there were only 8.7, an increase of about 151,000 employees.[84] From 1962 to 2007, the total number of federal civilian executive branch employees increased by 6.1% while the population increased by 61.7%. However, in the same period, the number of employees in state and local governments almost tripled.[84]
Federal deficit 1940–present
Decade Deficit as % of GDP
1940s 9.67
1950s 0.39
1960s 0.79
1970s 2.37
1980s 3.93
1990s 2.16
2000s 1.62
Note: Largest deficit was for WW2. 1998–2002 had surpluses. For brevity, annual numbers were combined into ten-year averages. Source: US Government statistics.[79]
Legislative and budgetary powers 
Some critics charge that presidents have usurped important legislative and budgetary powers that should normally belong to Congress. Presidents control a vast array of agencies that can make regulations with little oversight from Congress. One critic charged that presidents could appoint a "virtual army of 'czars' – each wholly unaccountable to Congress yet tasked with spearheading major policy efforts for the White House".[85] Presidents have been criticized for making signing statements when signing congressional legislation about how they understand a bill or plan to execute it, and commentators have described this practice as against the spirit of the Constitution.[86] Signing statements "tip the balance of power between Congress and the White House a little more in favor of the executive branch"[87] and have been used by the past four presidents.[88][89] This practice has been criticized by the American Bar Association as unconstitutional.[90] One critic, George Will, sees an "increasingly swollen executive branch" and "the eclipse of Congress". He argued that this process has been continuing "for decades"[91] and criticized the "marginalization" of the Congress.[91]
Abuse of power 
Presidents have sometimes resorted to illegal and extralegal activities, particularly during wartime. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War;[92] Woodrow Wilson imprisoned suspected communists without trial during the Palmer Raids;[92] and Franklin D. Roosevelt interned over a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans during World War II.[92] Roosevelt used federal investigators to study tax and financial records of opposition politicians.[93] To prevent terrorism, George W. Bush authorized warrantless wiretaps, which were later ruled by a federal judge to be unconstitutional[94] as well as interrogation techniques on al-Qaeda detainees some have described as torture[95] and denying battlefield-captured War on Terror detainees due process.[96] Members of Richard Nixon's Administration were involved in burglarizing the office of a political opponent's psychiatrist and the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Complex. The ensuing cover-up of the Watergate scandal led to multiple indictments and convictions of people on Nixon's staff including G. Gordon Liddy, who spent over four years in a federal prison, and resulted in President Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974.[97] Nixon's actions were predicted in a way by Tocqueville in Democracy in America (1835). Tocqueville argued that the re-electability of presidents was a grave cause for concern, since presidents running for re-election were tempted to not only lose their impartiality but use the vast machinery of the State to further their re-election.[98] Tocqueville warned:
The President ... no longer governs for the interest of the State, but for that of his re-election; he does homage to the majority, and instead of checking its passions, as his duty commands him to do, he frequently courts its worst caprices ... Intrigue and corruption are the natural defects of elective government; but when the head of the State can be re-elected these evils rise to a great height, and compromise the very existence of the country. When a simple candidate seeks to rise by intrigue, his manoeuvres must necessarily be limited to a narrow sphere; but when the chief magistrate enters the lists, he borrows the strength of the Government for his own purposes. In the former case the feeble resources of an individual are in action; in the latter, the State itself, with all its immense influence, is busied in the work of corruption and cabal.[98]
Starting wars without a declaration from Congress 
Some critics charge that the executive branch has usurped Congress's Constitutionally defined task of declaring war.[99][100][101] While historically presidents initiated the process for going to war, they asked for and got formal war declarations from Congress for the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Spanish–American War, World War I, and World War II.[101][102] However, presidents did not get official declarations for other military actions, including Theodore Roosevelt's military move into Panama in 1903,[101] the Korean War,[101] the Vietnam War,[101] the invasions of Grenada[103] and Panama (1990).[104] However, while not getting an official declaration of war, presidents got Congressional approval in the first Iraq war (1991)[105][106] and second Iraq War (2003)[107][108] In 1993, one critic wrote "Congress's war power has become the most flagrantly disregarded provision in the Constitution."[109]
Election advantages of incumbent presidents 
Presidents, in office, and seeking a second term have an advantage over challengers,[110] and critics have charged that this is unfair. Since 1936, in the thirteen presidential elections where there was an incumbent, incumbents won ten times, challengers only three times (see table). Incumbent presidents seeking re-election enjoy advantages that challengers lack, including the power to command greater media coverage and influence events as well as dispense government grants.[111] One reporter noted "nearly all incumbents raise far more (money) than do their challengers" which brings an advantage to incumbents.[112] PACs give most of their money to incumbents because they are more likely to win.[113] One political forecaster suggested incumbency added 5 percentage points to a candidate's likely re-election results, although circumstances such as economic growth and inflation could influence the outcome.[114][115]
Presidential elections since 1936 with an incumbent
Year Candidate Votes Candidate Votes Winner Notes
1936 Roosevelt 523 Landon 8 Incumbent [116]
1940 Roosevelt 449 Willkie 82 Incumbent [117]
1944 Roosevelt 432 Dewey 99 Incumbent [117]
1948 Truman 303 Dewey 189 Incumbent [117]
1956 Eisenhower 457 Stevenson 73 Incumbent [117]
1964 Johnson 486 Goldwater 52 Incumbent [117]
1972 Nixon 520 McGovern 17 Incumbent [117]
1976 Carter 297 Ford 240 Challenger [117]
1980 Reagan 489 Carter 49 Challenger [117]
1984 Reagan 525 Mondale 13 Incumbent [117]
1992 Clinton 370 GHW Bush 168 Challenger [117]
1996 Clinton 379 Dole 159 Incumbent [117]
2004 GW Bush 286 Kerry 252 Incumbent [118]
Note: elections with no incumbent and third party candidates were excluded. Numbers are Electoral College votes.
Pardon power 
Presidents have been criticized for pardoning certain individuals. Gerald Ford was criticized for pardoning Richard Nixon.[119] George H W Bush pardoned an official suspected of hiding notes relating to the Iran-Contra scandal.[120] Bill Clinton issued 140 pardons on the last day of his term of office,[121] pardoning fugitives[121] and prominent campaign contributors.[121] George W Bush commuted the sentence of a staffer who had covered up administration complicity in the Valerie Plame Wilson matter.[122][123]
Foreign policy management 
Since there is no requirement that presidential candidates have foreign policy or military or diplomatic expertise, and presidents manage foreign policy, the quality of decision-making has varied from president to president. Assessments by foreign policy experts list both successes and failures in the past half-century. Important successes within the last half-century included the breakup of the Soviet Union and avoiding World War III[124] as well as the handling of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.[125] But numerous presidential decisions have been criticized, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba,[126] specific military choices,[127] trading arms for hostages with Iran,[128] and decisions about initiating wars.[128][129][130] The occupation following the Iraq War was criticized as being "catastrophically unplanned" and overall strategy with Iraq was called a "self-defeating alienation of allies."[131] One critic noted a trend of the "militarization of U.S. foreign policy."[132] Presidents have been accused of supporting dictators such as the Shah of Iran,[133] Musharraf of Pakistan,[134] and Marcos of the Philippines.[135] Overall strategy regarding the Middle East has been criticized[136] as well as the handling of North Korea[136] and Iran.[137] Critics have charged that partisan politics have interfered with foreign policy.[138]

See also

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  • Category:Lists relating to the United States presidency
  • Category:United States presidential history



  1. ^ "How To Address The President; He Is Not Your Excellency Or Your Honor, But Mr. President". The New York Times. 1891-08-02. 
  2. ^ "Models of Address and Salutation". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  3. ^ The White House Office of the Press Secretary (September 1, 2010). "Remarks by President Obama, President Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas Before Working Dinner". Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Exchange of Letters". Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. September 1978. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Transcript of the Constitution of the United States – Official". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  6. ^ The Influence of State Politics in Expanding Federal Power,' Henry Jones Ford, Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, Vol. 5, Fifth Annual Meeting (1908) Retrieved on 17 March 2010
  7. ^ Pfiffner, J. P. (1988). "The President's Legislative Agenda". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 499: 22–35. doi:10.1177/0002716288499001002.  edit
  8. ^ Noer, Michael; Perlroth, Nicole (2009-11-11). "The World's Most Powerful People". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  9. ^ "The Most Powerful Man in the World is a Black Man – The Los Angeles Sentinel". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  10. ^ Michael Kailis (2010-01-20). "Vladimir Putin". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  11. ^ "Who should be the world's most powerful person?". The Guardian (London). 2008-01-03. 
  12. ^ by Jon Meacham (2008-12-20). "Meacham: The History of Power". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  13. ^ Fareed Zakaria (2008-12-20). "The NEWSWEEK 50: Barack Obama". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  14. ^ Our Government • The Executive Branch, The White House
  15. ^ "The Executive Branch". Retrieved 2009-01-27. . Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice; as the 22nd and 24th presidents.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Milkis, Sidney M.; Nelson, Michael (2008). The American Presidency: Origins and Development (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. pp. 1–25. ISBN 0872893368. 
  17. ^ a b c Kelly, Alfred H.; Harbison, Winfred A.; Belz, Herman (1991). The American Constitution: Its Origins and Development. I (7th ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.. pp. 76–81. ISBN 0393960560. 
  18. ^ Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist #69 (reposting). Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  19. ^ Christopher, James A.; Baker, III (July 8, 2008). "The National War Powers Commission Report" (PDF). The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Retrieved 15 December 2010. "No clear mechanism or requirement exists today for the president and Congress to consult. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 contains only vague consultation requirements. Instead, it relies on reporting requirements that, if triggered, begin the clock running for Congress to approve the particular armed conflict. By the terms of the 1973 Resolution, however, Congress need not act to disapprove the conflict; the cessation of all hostilities is required in 60 to 90 days merely if Congress fails to act. Many have criticized this aspect of the Resolution as unwise and unconstitutional, and no president in the past 35 years has filed a report “pursuant” to these triggering provisions." 
  20. ^ "The Executive Branch". The White House website. Retrieved October 17, 2010. 
  21. ^ Shurtleff v. United States, 189 U.S. 311 (1903); Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 (1926).
  22. ^ Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935) and Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), respectively.
  23. ^ Millhiser, Ian (2010-06-01). "Executive Privilege 101". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  24. ^ "Part III of the opinion in ''Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan''". Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  25. ^ a b Frost, Amanda; Florence, Justin (2009). "Reforming the State Secrets Privilege". American Constitution Society. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  26. ^ Weaver, William G.; Pallitto, Robert M. (2005). "State Secrets and Executive Power". Political Science Quarterly (The Academy of Political Science) 120 (1): 85–112. "Use of the state secrets privilege in courts has grown significantly over the last twenty-five years. In the twenty-three years between the decision in Reynolds [1953] and the election of Jimmy Carter, in 1976, there were four reported cases in which the government invoked the privilege. Between 1977 and 2001, there were a total of fifty-one reported cases in which courts ruled on invocation of the privilege. Because reported cases only represent a fraction of the total cases in which the privilege is invoked or implicated, it is unclear precisely how dramatically the use of the privilege has grown. But the increase in reported cases is indicative of greater willingness to assert the privilege than in the past." 
  27. ^ Savage, Charlie (2010-09-08). "Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by C.I.A". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  28. ^ Finn, Peter (2010-09-09). "Suit dismissed against firm in CIA rendition case". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  29. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (2009-02-10). "The 180-degree reversal of Obama's State Secrets position". Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  30. ^ American Civil Liberties Union (2007-01-31). "Background on the State Secrets Privilege". ACLU. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  31. ^ Duggan, Paul (April 2, 2007). "Balking at the First Pitch". Washington Post: p. A01. 
  32. ^ Grier, Peter (April 25, 2011). "The (not so) secret history of the White House Easter Egg Roll". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  33. ^ Hesse, Monica (November 21, 2007). "Turkey Pardons, The Stuffing of Historic Legend". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  34. ^ Gibbs, Nancy (13-11-2008). "How Presidents Pass The Torch". TIME.,9171,1858896,00.html. Retrieved 06-05-2011. 
  35. ^ Dorning, Mike (22-01-2009). "A note from Bush starts morning in the Oval Office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 06-05-2011. 
  36. ^ James A. Abbott and Elaine M. Rice (1998). Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration. Van Nostrand Reinhold. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-442-02532-7. 
  37. ^ "The White House State Dinner". The White House Historical Association. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  38. ^ Foreign-born Americans who were citizens at the time the Constitution was adopted were also eligible to become president, provided they met the age and residency requirements. However, this allowance has since become obsolete.
  39. ^ See: Peabody, Bruce G.; Gant, Scott E. (1999). "The Twice and Future President: Constitutional Interstices and the Twenty-Second Amendment". Minnesota Law Review (Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Law Review) 83 (565). ; alternatively, see: Albert, Richard (2005). "The Evolving Vice Presidency". Temple Law Review (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education) 78 (811, at 856–9). 
  40. ^ See GPO Annotated U.S. Constitution, 2002 Ed., at 611 & nn.772–73.
  41. ^ U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 8.
  42. ^ Guardian, "Bush colonoscopy leaves Cheney in charge", July 20, 2007
  43. ^ 3 U.S.C. § 20
  44. ^ "Presidential and Vice Presidential Salaries, 1789+". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  45. ^ Relative Value in US Dollars. Measuring Worth. Retrieved May 30, 2006.
  46. ^ Dept. of Labor Inflation Calculator. Inflation Calculator. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  47. ^ "How much does the U.S. president get paid?". Howstuffworks. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  48. ^ Salaries of Federal Officials: A Fact Sheet. United States Senate website. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  49. ^ "President's Guest House (includes Lee House and Blair House), Washington, DC". Retrieved 2009-09-30. 
  50. ^ New Presidential Limousine enters Secret Service Fleet US Secret Service Press Release (January 14, 2009) Retrieved on 2009-01-20
  51. ^ Air Force One. White House Military Office. Retrieved June 17, 2007.
  52. ^ Any U.S. Air Force aircraft carrying the president will use the call sign "Air Force One." Similarly, "Navy One", "Army One", and "Coast Guard One" are the call signs used if the president is aboard a craft belonging to these services. "Executive One" becomes the call sign of any civilian aircraft when the president boards.
  53. ^ "Junior Secret Service Program: Assignment 7. Code Names". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  54. ^ "Candidate Code Names Secret Service Monikers Used On The Campaign Trail". CBS. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  55. ^ "Former Presidents Act (FPA)". U.S. Senate. 1958. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  56. ^ "Former presidents cost U.S. taxpayers big bucks". Toledo Blade. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  57. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 3056
  58. ^ "Shock and Anger Flash Throughout the United States". Associated Press. 1981-03-31. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  59. ^ "FOUR PRESIDENTS". Reagan Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  60. ^ Biography of Richard M. Nixon, The White House
  61. ^ Michiko Kakutani (book reviewer) (July 6, 2007). "Unchecked and Unbalanced". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "the founding fathers had 'scant affection for strong executives' like England’s king, and ... Bush White House’s claims are rooted in ideas “about the ‘divine’ right of kings” ... and that certainly did not find their 'way into our founding documents, the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of 1787.'" 
  62. ^ "The Conquest of Presidentialism". The Huffington Post. August 22, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  63. ^ interview by David Schimke (September–October 2008). "Presidential Power to the People – Author Dana D. Nelson on why democracy demands that the next president be taken down a notch". Utne Reader. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  64. ^ Ross Linker (2007-09-27). "Critical of Presidency, Prof. Ginsberg and Crenson unite". The Johns-Hopkins Newsletter. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "presidents slowly but surely gain more and more power with both the public at large and other political institutions doing nothing to prevent it." 
  65. ^ Michiko Kakutani (book reviewer) (July 6, 2007). "Unchecked and Unbalanced". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "UNCHECKED AND UNBALANCED: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror By Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr. and Aziz Z. Huq (authors)" 
  66. ^ a b By Dana D. Nelson (October 11, 2008). "Opinion–The 'unitary executive' question – What do McCain and Obama think of the concept?". Los Angeles Times.,0,224216.story. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  67. ^ Sanford Levinson (February 5, 2009). ""Wartime Presidents and the Constitution: From Lincoln to Obama" – speech by Sanford Levinson at Wayne Morse Center". Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. Retrieved 2009-10-10. [dead link]
  68. ^ Anand Giridharadas (September 25, 2009). "Edging Out Congress and the Public". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  69. ^ David Sirota (January 18, 2009). "U.S. moving toward czarism, away from democracy". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  70. ^ a b David Sirota (August 22, 2008). "Why cult of presidency is bad for democracy". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  71. ^ Scott Shane (September 25, 2009). "A Critic Finds Obama Policies a Perfect Target". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "There is the small, minority-owned firm with deep ties to President Obama’s Chicago backers, made eligible by the Federal Reserve to handle potentially lucrative credit deals. 'I want to know how these firms are picked and who picked them,' Mr. Wilson, the group’s president, tells his eager researchers." 
  72. ^ Rachel Dykoski (November 1, 2008). "Book note: Presidential idolatry is "Bad for Democracy"". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "Dana D. Nelson's book makes the case that we've had 200+ years of propagandized leadership..." 
  73. ^ John Neffinger (April 2, 2007). "Democrats vs. Science: Why We're So Damn Good at Losing Elections". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "...back in the 1980s Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes ran a piece skewering Reagan's policies on the elderly ... But while her voiceover delivered a scathing critique, the video footage was all drawn from carefully-staged photo-ops of Reagan smiling with seniors and addressing large crowds ... Deaver thanked ... Stahl...for broadcasting all those images of Reagan looking his best." 
  74. ^ Dana D. Nelson (2008). "Bad for democracy: how the Presidency undermines the power of the people". U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816656776. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "in rich detail how Kennedy drew on the power of myth as he framed his experience during World War II, when his PT boat was sliced in half by a Japanese..." 
  75. ^ Dana D. Nelson (2008). "Bad for democracy: how the Presidency undermines the power of the people". U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816656776. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "Even before Kennedy ran for Congress, he had become fascinated, through his Hollywood acquaintances and visits, with the idea of image... (p.54)" 
  76. ^ Alessandra Stanley (June 10, 2004). "THE 40TH PRESIDENT: CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; A Pageant Over 2 Decades in the Making". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "If anyone is to be credited for providing regal grandeur to the ceremony it is Mrs. Reagan, who, with the help of the loyal aide Michael K. Deaver, had always managed the stagecraft of her husband's political career." 
  77. ^ Lexington (2009-07-21). "The Cult of the Presidency". The Economist. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Gene Healy argues that because voters expect the president to do everything ... When they inevitably fail to keep their promises, voters swiftly become disillusioned. Yet they never lose their romantic idea that the president should drive the economy, vanquish enemies, lead the free world, comfort tornado victims, heal the national soul and protect borrowers from hidden credit-card fees." 
  78. ^ Justin Ewers (April 28, 2009). "Why Obama Is Leaving the Reagan Era Behind When It Comes to Economic Policy". US News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Despite his years of lip service to balancing the budget, total discretionary spending had climbed almost 16 percent by the time he left office, dwarfing the Carter budgets he had once criticized. Revenues, limited by Reagan's tax cuts, were never able to keep pace. The result was a spiraling national debt that nearly tripled during his two terms, hitting $2.7 trillion." 
  79. ^ a b United States Government (2009). "Historical Tables–Budget of the United States Government–Fiscal Year 2009". United States Government. Retrieved 2009-12-15. "see pages 11–12, 25–26, 28–29, 30–31, 333–334 The traditional pattern of running large deficits only in times of war or economic downturns was broken during much of the 1980s. In 1982, partly in response to a recession, large tax cuts were enacted. However, these were accompanied by substantial increases in defense spending. Although reductions were made to nondefense spending, they were not sufficient to offset the impact on the deficit. As a result, deficits averaging $206 billion were incurred between 1983 and 1992. These unprecedented peacetime deficits increased debt held by the public from $789 billion in 1981 to $3.0 trillion (48.1% of GDP) in 1992.(from p.11)" 
  80. ^ a b c Timothy Taylor (November 14, 2009). "The deficit doves". Minneapolis–St. Paul Star Tribune. Retrieved 2009-12-15. "The Congressional Budget Office projects that the accumulation of government debt from 2009 to 2012, relative to the size of the economy, will outstrip the accumulation of debt in Reagan's first term of office." 
  81. ^ Peter S. Goodman (July 7, 2009). "Staggering Budget Gap and a Reluctance to Fill It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-15. "The deficit has grown in part because of the $787 billion spending package championed by the Obama administration to aid states, generate jobs and increase benefits for the jobless. But these expenditures landed atop huge deficits run up by the Bush administration, which had cut taxes and prosecuted an expensive war in Iraq. The Congressional Budget Office projects federal spending will exceed revenues by $1.7 trillion this year, or about 12 percent of the nation’s annual economic output — the largest deficit since World War II." 
  82. ^ Nick Gillespie (January 24, 2009). "Bush Was a Big-Government Disaster". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "Mr. Bush ... increased the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented levels ... he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget ... added ... an additional $287 billion on top of that ... Mr. Bush has massively expanded the government" 
  83. ^ a b Lori Montgomery (March 21, 2009). "Deficit Projected To Swell Beyond Earlier Estimates". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Tax collections, meanwhile, would lag well behind spending, producing huge annual budget deficits that would force the nation to borrow nearly $9.3 trillion over the next decade – $2.3 trillion more than the president predicted when he unveiled his budget request just one month ago." 
  84. ^ a b United States Government (2009). "Historical Tables–Budget of the United States Government–Fiscal Year". United States Government. Retrieved 2009-12-15. "Table 17.5—GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT AND POPULATION: 1962–2007 (page 335)" 
  85. ^ Eric Cantor (July 30, 2009). "Obama's 32 Czars". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  86. ^ Dana D. Nelson (October 11, 2008). "The 'unitary executive' question". Los Angeles Times.,0,224216.story. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  87. ^ Christopher Lee (January 2, 2006). "Alito Once Made Case For Presidential Power". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  88. ^ Dan Froomkin (March 10, 2009). "Playing by the Rules". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  89. ^ Charlie Savage (March 16, 2009). "Obama Undercuts Whistle-Blowers, Senator Says". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  90. ^ Transcript – Ray Suarez and others (July 24, 2006). "President's Use of 'Signing Statements' Raises Constitutional Concerns". PBS Online NewsHour. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "The American Bar Association said President Bush's use of "signing statements," which allow him to sign a bill into law but not enforce certain provisions, disregards the rule of law and the separation of powers. Legal experts discuss the implications." 
  91. ^ a b George F. Will – op-ed columnist (December 21, 2008). "Making Congress Moot". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  92. ^ a b c Albert Gore (CQ Transcripts Wire) (JANUARY 16, 2006). "Transcript: Former Vice President Gore's Speech on Constitutional Issues". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "GORE: President Lincoln, of course, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, and some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after World War I, with the notorious red scare and "Palmer Raids."" 
  93. ^ Grigg, William Norman (June 16, 2003). "FDR's patriot purge. (Cover Story History)". The New American. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "federal investigators 'were free to devote a great deal of energy and attention to the tax records and finances of politicians who sought to use anti-Semitic appeals to attack the Roosevelt administration'" 
  94. ^ Dan Eggen and Dafna Linzer (August 18, 2006). "Judge Rules Against Wiretaps–NSA Program Called Unconstitutional". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ordered a halt to the wiretap program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2001, but both sides in the lawsuit agreed to delay that action until a Sept. 7 hearing." 
  95. ^ Shane, Scott and Savage, Charlie, Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture, New York Times, May 3, 2011
  96. ^ Staff writer (July 15, 2008). "Book World: 'The Dark Side': The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (by Jane Mayer)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Since embarking upon its global war on terror, the United States has blatantly disregarded the Geneva Conventions. It has imprisoned suspects, including U.S. citizens, without charge, holding them indefinitely and denying them due process. It has created an American gulag in which thousands of detainees, including many innocent of any wrongdoing, have been subjected to ritual abuse and humiliation." 
  97. ^ Richard Zoglin (August 8, 1994). "TELEVISION: Nixon Without Nostalgia". Time Magazine.,9171,981225,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "paranoid Nixon White House of the early '70s, so obsessed with political foes that it had a psychiatrist's office burglarized to get dirt on Daniel Ellsberg (who had released the Pentagon papers) and ordered the fateful break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee." 
  98. ^ a b Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Henry Reeve (1899). "Democracy in America, Volume 1". Google Books. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Intrigue and corruption are the natural defects of elective government; but when the head of the State can be re-elected these evils rise to a great height, and compromise the very existence of the country. When a simple candidate seeks to rise by intrigue, his manoeuvres must necessarily be limited to a narrow sphere; but when the chief magistrate enters the lists, he borrows the strength of the Government for his own purposes." 
  99. ^ Dana D. Nelson (October 11, 2008). "The 'unitary executive' question". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  100. ^ Steve Holland (May 1, 2009). "Obama revelling in U.S. power unseen in decades". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  101. ^ a b c d e "The Law: The President's War Powers". Time Magazine. June 1, 1970.,9171,878290,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  102. ^ Alison Mitchell (May 2, 1999). "The World; Only Congress Can Declare War. Really. It's True". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "Presidents have sent forces abroad more than 100 times; Congress has declared war only five times: the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II." 
  103. ^ Alison Mitchell (May 2, 1999). "The World; Only Congress Can Declare War. Really. It's True". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "President Reagan told Congress of the invasion of Grenada two hours after he had ordered the landing. He told Congressional leaders of the bombing of Libya while the aircraft were on their way." 
  104. ^ Michael R. Gordon (1990-12-20). "U.s. troops move in panama in effort to seize noriega; gunfire is heard in capital". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "It was not clear whether the White House consulted with Congressional leaders about the military action, or notified them in advance. Thomas S. Foley, the Speaker of the House, said on Tuesday night that he had not been alerted by the Administration." 
  105. ^ Stuart Taylor Jr. (September 4, 2002). "An Invasion of Iraq Requires the Approval of Congress". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Bush may eventually ask for a congressional vote. That would clearly be the wiser course, politically. And that's what Bush's father did in early 1991—notwithstanding his insistence then that he did not need congressional approval as a legal matter and his subsequent boast, "I didn't have to get permission from some old goat in Congress to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait."" [dead link]
  106. ^ Andrew Rosenthal (1991-02-28). "Bush Halts Offensive Combat; Kuwait Freed, Iraqis Crushed". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "The Speaker of the House, Thomas S. Foley, said: 'The majority in Congress voted to give the President the authority, and he has taken that authority and I think conducted this operation brilliantly.'" 
  107. ^ David E. Sanger with John F. Burns (March 20, 2003). "Bush Declares Start of Iraq War; Missile Said to Be Aimed at Hussein". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "Mr. Bush formally informed Congress in... a seven-page message to Congress, he argued that force was now the only way to 'adequately protect the national security of the United States' and that topping the Iraqi government was 'a vital part' of a broader war against terrorism. The message was required under a statute passed last fall explicitly authorizing war against Iraq after the president determined that a diplomatic solution was impossible." [dead link]
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  111. ^ Schantz (editor), Harvey L. (1996). American Presidential Elections: Process, Policy, and Political Change. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 41. ISBN 0-7914-2864-8. "The advantages of incumbency are many: presidents have the aura and experience of the office; they command media coverage; they are able to influence events; and they are able to dispense government grants. (p.41)" 
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  122. ^ Johanna Neuman (August 19, 2009). "Robert Novak dies at 78; syndicated columnist and TV commentator". Los Angeles Times.,0,4381837.story. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "President George W. Bush later commuted Libby's 2½ -year sentence." 
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  125. ^ "Essay: The Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis". Time Magazine. September 27, 1982.,9171,925769,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "Kennedy assembled a task force of advisers. Some of them wanted to invade Cuba. In the end, Kennedy chose a course of artful restraint; he laid down a naval quarantine. After six days, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet missiles would be dismantled." 
  126. ^ "Essay: BAY OF PIGS REVISITED: Lessons from a Failure". Time Magazine. July 30, 1965.,9171,834040,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion that had ended in disaster about a year and a half before." 
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  128. ^ a b David Ignatius (June 8, 2004). "Protean Leader". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "A somewhat more dubious example of the Reagan administration's realpolitik in the Middle East was the decision to trade arms to Iran to secure the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon. When the secret deal became public, Reagan managed the political fallout partly by insisting he had done nothing of the sort." 
  129. ^ Dennis Ross (2005-01). "The Middle East Predicament". Foreign Affairs Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "Iraq is a mess—from which the United States cannot easily extricate itself." 
  130. ^ Lelyveld, Joseph (2009-11-08). "Chuck Hagel–Biography". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "A staunch conservative and a Vietnam veteran, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is best known as the most outspoken Republican critic of President Bush's policies in Iraq." 
  131. ^ Jacob Weisberg (August 29, 2004). "All the President's Critics". New York Times: Books. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "But these are largely stand-ins for their opposition to the Bush administration's catastrophically unplanned occupation of Iraq, its self-defeating alienation of allies..." [dead link]
  132. ^ Robert G. Kaiser (October 27, 2008). "Iraq Aside, Nominees Have Like Views on Use of Force". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "Bacevich, who has endorsed Obama, is a stern critic of what he considers the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and he regards this consensus as "far more important than any apparent differences" between the candidates and their advisers." 
  133. ^ "The Mystic Who Lit The Fires of Hatred". Time Magazine. Jan. 7, 1980.,9171,923854,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "But the U.S. saw the Shah as a stable and valuable ally. ... the U.S. lent the Shah its all-out support. President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger allowed him to buy all the modern weapons he wanted. Washington also gave its blessing to a flood of American business investment in Iran and dispatched an army of technocrats there." 
  134. ^ Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright (November 21, 2007). "Bush More Emphatic In Backing Musharraf". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general 'hasn't crossed the line' and 'truly is somebody who believes in democracy.'" 
  135. ^ Henry Grunwald (May 12, 1986). "Essay: Marcos, Baby Doc – Why Not the Rest?". Time Magazine.,9171,961354,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "Some critics blame the U.S. for the existence of just about all the world's non-Communist dictatorships. While it is true that many of these receive U.S. support, the forces that lead to dictatorship are usually beyond American control." 
  136. ^ a b Joshua Micah Marshall (2003-11). "Remaking the World: Bush and the Neoconservatives". Foreign Affairs Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "In Israel ... After giving a low priority to the peace process during his first two years in office, George W. Bush pushed the 'road map' for peace while relegating Yasir Arafat to the sidelines ... Finding himself stymied, the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned; Arafat faces death or expulsion while being lionized among his constituents; bombings continue; and the region is as volatile and violent as ever." 
  137. ^ Castle, Stephen (October 21, 2009). "Iran's Nuclear Program". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-10. "American officials and international inspectors are concerned that Iran seems to have made significant progress in the three technologies necessary to field an effective nuclear weapon: enriching uranium to weapons grade; developing a missile capable of reaching Israel and parts of Western Europe; and designing a warhead that will fit on the missile." 
  138. ^ Eric M. Weiss and Charles Lane (July 14, 2006). "Vice President Sued by Plame And Husband". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-08. "Plame and Wilson say that, after Wilson accused Bush of twisting intelligence about Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, Cheney, Rove and Libby conspired to 'discredit, punish and seek revenge against the plaintiffs that included, among other things, disclosing to members of the press Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson's classified CIA employment.'" 

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