What did the sign on Harry Truman’s desk say, and why is it important?
“The buck stops here” - it’s a good example of presidents having ultimate power.
Why did the Founding Fathers want to limit the power of the president?
Because they feared tyranny, having just overthrown the British.
Which article of the Constitution sets out the powers of the president?
According to the Constitution, what are the only explicit powers of the president?
Authorisation (not requirment) to form a cabinet; power of pardon; temporarily fill federal government vacancies when the Senate is not in session; act as commander-in-chief of army and navy.
Which part of Article 2 gives the president leeway to use more power than that which the Constitution explicitly gives?
“The Executive Power shall be invested in a President of the United States of America.”
What are the various types of presidential veto?
The veto (i.e. a “normal” one, which requires 2/3 majority in both Houses to overturn); pocket veto; leave it on their desk.
How does a president make a binding contract with a foreign nation whilst bypassing congress?
How long is the maximum presidents can serve for?
2 terms/8 years
What was the name of Obama’s rejected Supreme Court nomination?
How many presidential pardons did Obama issue?
“Stroke of the pen, law of the land, kinda cool.” Who, on what?
Paul Begala, advisor to Bill Clinton, describing executive orders.
What is an EO?
Executive Order - a presidential order that has the same force as legislation but which does not need to be approved by Congress.
Give two race-related EOs signed by Obama,
DACA and DAPA
How long do EOs remain in force?
Until they are repealed, which any president can do at any time; or unless the judiciary strikes them down.
Give a Trump EO.
The Muslim travel ban.
What’s the difference between an EO and an EA?
EOs (executive orders) relate to domestic policy, EAs to foreign.
Give two examples of EAs.
Iran Nuclear Deal, Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Why would a president use an EA rather than a treaty?
Because treaties have to be approved by the Senate and EAs do not.
What proportion of US foreign policy agreements are concluded by EA?
What’s a recess appointment?
A temporary appointment to a federal post, made when the Senate is in recess. The appointment must be confirmed by the Senate before the end of the following Senate session.
What can the Senate hold, during recess, to ensure that no recess appointments are made?
“Pro forma” sessions: when as few one senator holds a Senate session, so that it is not in recess. Usually no business is conducted an no-one else is there, but the Senate is still “in session”.
What is a signing statement?
Statements written by a president on a bill when it’s signed into law, indicating support or opposition.
EOs, EAs, recess appointments and signing statements are all examples of what?
Informal presidential powers: they are not in the constitution but they allow considerable leeway.
What does EXOP (or EOP) stand for?
Executive Office of the President
“Never underestimate the power of proximity.” Who, on what?
Daniel Moynihan, adviser to President Clinton; he was referring to the fact that members of EXOP are in the West Wing with immediate access to the president, whereas members of the cabinet are not.
The White House Office is run by which key member of the president’s staff?
The Chief of Staff
Andrew Card was Chief of Staff to whom, what did he tell him, and why is it instructive?
GWB; that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center and that America is “under attack”; because it shows the importance of the CoS. He delivered the message, and so chose what to say; not the Secretary of State or the VP, who don’t routinely travel with the president.
Obama made Susan Rice his National Security Advisor (another key EXOP role). What was contentious about her appointment and what did it show?
He had wanted her to be Secretary of State but knew she was unlikely to be approved by the Senate, so he appointed her as NSA, which does not require Senate approval, showing his ultimate ability to get who he wants into important positions.
Give two cases that show how the judiciary can limit presidential power
San Francisco v Trump 2017: Trump’s EO defunding sanctuary cities was unconstitutional. NLRB v Noel Canning 2014: Obama had exceeded his authority by making recess appointments even when the Senate was holding pro-forma sessions.
Who described presidential power as “the power to persuade”?
How many years of completely united government (House, Senate, Presidency) have there been since 1993?
10 (out of 28, including the current Congress which runs to 2021). 4 years of total Dem rule, 6 of total Rep.
Which of these did Obama do to try to persuade people to vote for Obamacare?
Mentioned it at the State of the Union; hosted a White House meeting for 11 House Democrats; held individual Oval Office meetings with Senators; made Nancy Pelosi wear an “Obamacaring is Obamasharing” t-shirt.
All bar the last one (though I wish he had).
The president nominates all federal judges, including to the Supreme Court. Who are the last three nominees to the SC?
Garland, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh.
Which president said “I make foreign policy” and why is that significant?
Truman; shows the control the President has over FP.
What two words, used by the man himself, sum up Trump’s foreign policy?
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Who, about what, showing what?
Trump, on pulling the US out of the Paris climate change agreement, showing his America First policy (and his control over FP).
What phrase indicates that presidents often have more control over foreign than domestic policy?
Weak at home, strong abroad.
What term is applied to a president after they have lost (or not stood in) the election in November but before they leave office in January?
Lame duck - though it is often extended to mean the last two years in office.
An imperial president might make liberal use of what?
Among other things, his extra-constitutional powers: EOs, EAs, recess appointments, signing statements.
Why might the presidency be said to be “imperilled”?
Because it can be limited by divided government, checks and balances, oversight, events and the political climate.