Different Aspects Weakening the Presidency
The presidency is commonly misperceived as a position of absolute
power. On the contrary, presidential scholars Richard Neustadt,
Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents, and Gary Rose, The
American Presidency Under Siege, argue the presidency is better
characterized in terms of weaknesses. Their identification of
contributing factors to weakened presidency differ in degree,
execution, and form. Neustadt and Rose focus on two separate areas
affecting the presidency and its effectiveness, each taking into
account different aspects of the presidency while ignoring others.
Neustadt's view of a model president is one who is active, yet
conservative of his power. The President should have knowledge,
understanding and vision. He should measure each situation with
cost-analysis mentality, only pursuing what can be accomplished
successfully. The President is actively involved in acquisition of
power. Using professional reputation and public prestige, the
President can increase bargaining power. By building a record of
success, the President can become more influential through
presidential persuasion, in policy making, and conserve presidential
power. According to Neustadt, persuasion measures power. The President
is responsible for actions contributing to gaining and losing of
presidential power. Presidential power is based upon skill and not
upon circumstance. Neustadt tailors his argument to fit
individualistic means of effectiveness.
Rose shifts the increasing weakness problem away from the President
and places it on outside factors, blaming the system of governing and
party decline. According to Rose, the President can have an ambitious
vision for America and an agenda to carry it all out, like the Reagan
Revolution, but the system does not allow the President to execute it.
Rose also blames outside forces of special interest groups, lobbyists,
PAC money, insider affiliation of iron triangles, issue networks and
bureaucracy for contributing to decrease party affiliation. Decreased
party affiliation leads to low presidential support because loyalty no
longer lies with the parties. Congressmen are loyal to their personal
contributors, resulting in less party support for the President. Thus,
the bureaucracy is unreachable by the President; it is politically
neutral and impedes objectives of the President. The media is also
responsible for weakening the presidency. Journalism focuses on
attacking the President's personal issues rather than platform issues.
Rose explains that opinions of the President are formed by the media.
Rising negative reports lowers popular support. Presidents are also
hindered by aggressive congressional oversight and encroachment.
Congress restricts presidents on matters of foreign policy, budget and