Assess the view that, in practice, presidential power is restricted to issues relating to foreign policy.
The office of president today is very different from that envisaged by the framers of the constitution in 1787- the circumstances that have given rise to modern presidential power could not have been foreseen. However some argue that the office of president is one of inherent weakness rather than strength, and that the powers of the president were no guarantee that power could actually be exercised. In his view, presidential leadership was possible only when there were extraordinary crisis conditions such as depression or war. F.D. Roosevelt is often given as an example of such a president.
All presidents try to keep a high profile in foreign policy. This is because they all face difficulties in enacting domestic policy in areas such as health care or welfare, where there is little political consensus. Most leave office with little achievement in domestic policy, As a result, they tend to focus on their foreign policy, commander-in-chief role in order to secure their legacy and reputation when they leave office. In foreign policy, Congress usually defers to the president’s wishes and he is given a relatively free rein in pursuing his own agenda. Congress was seen to club together to allow Bush to quickly retaliate in 2001 after 9/11. Other examples include, Clinton and Iraq and the Balkans, Reagan and Central America and the Soviet Union. This has been referred to as a ‘bifurcated presidency’ – weak in demotic policy, stronger in foreign.
However, commander-in-chief is not the only constitutional role played by the president who, who has formal, enumerated powers (including, Chief Executive, Chief diplomat and commander-in-chief), as well as Implied roles and powers (World leader, Party leader, Head of state and Chief legislator). How accessible these powers are is dependent on the political landscape, but it would be wrong to say that presidential...
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