Presidential Powers Essay

1154 words - 5 pages

As the President of the United States, a president have powers that other members of the government do not. Presidential power can be defined in numerous ways. Political scientists Richard Neustadt and William Howell give different views on what is presidential power. These polarized views of presidential powers can be used to compare and contrast the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Richard Neustadt stated in his book Presidential Power that “Presidential power is the power to persuade.”(Neustadt, pg.11) Persuasion and bargaining are techniques that presidents can use to influence policy. Neustadt explains how persuasion can help a president get laws passed and to get favorable public opinion.Neustadt explains that bargaining is important in order to influence other politicians in Congress and inside of the executive branch. He stated that "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" (Neustadt, pg.30). Neustadt believes that a president should use persuasion than commanding because it is more effective.Commanding shows that a president is weak. Commanding is only effective in certain situations.
Neustadt believes that a persuasive president is a powerful president but in William Howell book Power Without Persuasion, he attacks Neustadt’s point about persuasion in a president. Howell argues that a president does not need to be persuasive in order to be powerful. He believes that a president can become a powerful leader without using persuasion. Howell states that “... effect policy change outside of a bargaining framework" (Howell, pg. 13). He states that the president can create laws without Congress when it comes to foreign and domestic affairs. The president has more information about foreign and national affairs than Congress. The president can make policies with the information made available only to him.
Both Neustadt and Howell made great points relating to presidential power. There are times in a presidency where a president should persuade Congress and the public to pass laws and there are times where the president should act fast and not persuade Congress to pass certain laws. In times of emergency, persuasion can take up time and can sometimes cost money or lives of people. There are certain times where a president should use persuasion and times where they shouldn’t.
Both President Obama and Bush had different tactics when it came to foreign affairs. In the following weeks after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W Bush issued executive orders including setting up a Secretary of Homeland Security and a Homeland Security Council, launching a military strike against Afghanistan and other executive orders. Bush issued these executive orders without going through Congress. Howell stated that “Though these commands did not come as executive orders, or any kind of...

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