Chapter 13: The PresidencyHonors Classes, Nov. 13, 2013 “To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say 'Well done.' And to the C students, I say 'You, too, can be president of the United States.'” President George W. Bush, speaking at Yale University's 300th commencement ceremony
Then and Now Then: • No real power (recall the Articles of Confederation had NO executive) • Framers grudgingly came to accept a “presider” • Hamilton: Pay the President $0. Now: • Most powerful person on earth • Has lots of roles beyond merely presiding • Well compensated (see next slide)
Presidential Compensation • Pay and benefits • $400k + perqs (nice house, Camp David, sweet ride (see next slide), 2 747s, a helicopter, free food, medical, etc.) • Great retirement package ($200k pension, staff and office allowance, secret service, medical, free travel on official business, etc.) • Post-President speaking tour not bad, either • Clinton in 10 years after leaving office: 417 speeches, average $181k per • Bush making between $100k and $150k
The Beast (cont.) • A Cadillac, but in name only. • 8-inch thick armor plating • 5-inch think bulletproof windows (5 layers) • Interior sealed to reduce risks from chemical attacks • Kevlar-reinforced run-flat tires • Special foam insulation around gas tank • Command and Control voice/data equipment in panels • Trunk said to hold everything from firefighting equipment to President’s blood to grenade launchers. • Part of 45-60 vehicle motorcade • Top speed: 60 MPH; 8 MPG; lousy handling
What do we get for all that money? • A guy wearing lots of hats. • Let’s walk through a made-up, but plausible, day to see what the President’s roles are. • After your breakfast of egg whites and bacon, Mr. President, you have your “PDB.” • (This is the “President’s Daily Brief,” where he hears about threats to the U.S. and what we’re doing about them.) But not this guy
Excerpt from the PDB of 8/6/01 So what role are you playing during the PDB? Commander-in-Chief.
Commander-in-Chief • As C-in-C, the President is head of all the military forces. • But recall that the President cannot declare war; only Congress can. • Last declared war? WWII. • Once war is declared, or once troops are committed, President is in charge. • You have “the biscuit” for “the football.” Or not. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LERxMf-5oZE FDR signing declaration of war
Next on your agenda: • A flight on Air Force One to visit Tuscaloosa, AL to see damage done by tornadoes. • Your role? Here, let’s say Chief Citizen.
Chief Citizen • As Chief Citizen, you are there to console people, provide encouragement, share in celebrations…all those things that normal human beings do. • The President needs to show that he’s there for us and that he’s one of us.
While you are in the air… …you place a call on your secure phone to the head of FEMA, directing him to get funds to Alabama. • Your role here? Chief Administrator. • There are approximately 2.8 million civilian federal employees. You’re their boss. The President talking from his office on Air Force One:
You’re now back in DC • You have a 2:00 p.m. meeting with senior aids to discuss your legislative agenda. • Your role? Chief Legislator.
As Chief Legislator you… • … sign or veto legislation; • come up with a policy agenda – and accompanying budget – and you try to get it enacted into law; and • outline your proposals in State of the Union speech. • It’s important you play offense.
From there it’s to the Rose Garden… …for a signing ceremony. • Often a bill is signed with great fanfare to reward those who worked on it or to highlight the people it will help. (You will use lots of pens to sign and give them away.) • Your role? Chief Executive.
Chief Executive (cont.) Recall all the checks and balances at work here. • Congress can – • Refuse to act on your legislative agenda • Refuse to fund your programs • Reject your nominations and treaties • Override your veto • Embarrass you through oversight hearings of your staff • The courts can declare your acts unconstitutional or otherwise inconsistent with a statute.
Chancellor Merkel is here for your 4:00 appointment Your role? Chief Diplomat. Just a couple of friends, hanging out. You’re negotiating with foreign leaders and making foreign policy. You’ll be dealing with matters of defense and trade treaties, appointments of ambassadors, and so on.
How about some hoops? • Hey, a guy’s gotta stay fit. • White House has a putting green and a bowling alley. Used to have a pool, but that’s now the Press Room. • Your role? Maybe Chief Citizen but really just a guy working off some job-related stress.
Back to work: Time for a little fund-raising • Your role? Chief of Party. • In this role, you’re helping raise money for your party, providing a face for the party, and providing some policy leadership, but you’re not really that involved in party operations. You get to go to some swell parties and meet cool people.
One last official duty for the day: Hosting a State Dinner • The Queen pops in for a bite. • Your role? Chief of State. You represent America to the world.
Any minimum requirements for this gig? Yep; you must satisfy the following constitutional requirements: • At least 35 years old (see chart at right with ages at inauguration) • At least 14 years US resident • Natural-born citizen • This means either • Born in the U.S. or • Born elsewhere to parents who are U.S. citizens • Framers didn’t want someone from Europe coming here and buying way into power
Trivia questions: • Who was the youngest person ever to serve as President? • TR, who became President at 42 when President McKinley was assasinated. • Youngest ever elected? • JFK, at 43. • Oldest elected? • Ronald Reagan, at 73 when reelected.
How long can you keep the job? • You can’t be elected more to more than 2 terms, thanks to the 22nd Amendment (remember all those 2s). • Each term lasts 4 years. • Could Bill Clinton become V.P.? • 22nd Amendment: “No person shall be elected to the Office of President more than twice….” • But see the 12th Amendment: “…no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.”
Presidential succession • Pres. Garfield has just been shot. He’s in bed (and will be for 11 weeks, it turns out). Now what? • Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 6: “In Case of Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President.” • What does “devolve” mean?!
The 25th Amendment • If either (a) the President informs the Speaker and President Pro Tem that he’s unable to fulfill the duties(ex: Reagan transferred power to Bush for 8 hours when doctors removed a tumor from RR) or • (b) the V.P. and a majority of the members of the cabinet departments tell Congress, then • (c) the President can resume the powers by saying that he’s better. • (d) The V.P. and a majority of members of the cabinet departments may challenge this, in which case • (e) if 2/3 of both chambers vote President out, V.P. becomes President; otherwise, President stays.
Which reminds me of… … the scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
Presidential succession (cont.) • The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 spelled out the top 18 in line after the president. • There is a “designated survivor” whenever the leaders of gov’t get together (like at a State of the Union address). • In emergencies the top 75 officials go to one of a couple of hardened bunkers around DC. • President • Vice President • Speaker of the House • President Pro Tem • Secretary of State • Secretary of Treasury • Secretary of Defense • Attorney General • God help us
The Vice President "The man with the best job in the country is the Vice President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, 'How is the President.'" - Will Rogers Not an office that holds a lot of power; per John Nance Garner (FDR’s first V.P.): the office “isn’t worth a bucket of warm [spit].” • Three formal duties under the Constitution: • Preside over the Senate • Help decide presidential disability • Become President if sitting President is unable • V.P. cannot be fired (can, of course, be impeached, and the President can decide not to keep him in second term).
The V.P. (cont.) • Before the 25th Amendment, what happened when the V.P. office became vacant? Nothing! The position went unfilled until next election (happened to James Madison twice, for instance). • Now, the President must nominate a V.P., but the nomination must receive a majority approval of both the House and Senate.
Getting Elected • We have a three-step process (broadly speaking): • There will be 50 primaries (including “caucuses”). • There will be 2 conventions. • There will be 1 general election.
Primaries • Most primaries award delegates to the two main parties’ conventions on a proportional basis. Ex: Win 40% of the popular vote in the primary? Get roughly 40% of the delegates. • Many primaries are “front-loaded” now.
National Conventions • Intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfAcyBzyek4 • The parties set their own rules for when the conventions will be, how many delegates any state can send, and how the delegates are to be chosen. • Conventions nominate a candidate (usually a foregone conclusion by that point) and agree on a party platform.
Conventions (cont.) Sometimes the platforms can be a source of tension. See, e.g., Democratic National Convention flap about reference to God and to recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel (see next slide and then watchhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2sWTwbzAcw)
General Election • After being nominated at the convention, the two main candidates now campaign in the general election. • They will tack back to the middle on issues. • When we vote (on when? The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November), we’re voting for electors for President, who in turn vote in the Electoral College. • 48 of 50 states use “winner take all” rules. I.e., you get 50.1% of popular vote? You get 100% of electors.
Electoral College • Get a majority of Electoral College votes • Each state has same number of electors as they have members of Congress. Thus, all states will have at least 3 electors in the EC. • Framers didn’t like two of the obvious choices (i.e., selection of President by Congress or by the people directly). • Former would’ve made Congress too powerful; • latter would’ve led to “tumult and disorder.” Plus country so big the voters wouldn’t know the candidates. • Electoral College was a compromise that allowed citizens to vote (for the electors) while avoiding problems of citizens not knowing the candidates or an election that favored the largest states.
Electoral College (cont.) • Framers assumed many electors would vote for “favorite son” candidates, thus forcing the House to pick a president (with each state having 1 vote). • Framers didn’t foresee roles of parties, rise of new media technology, etc.
Electoral College (cont.) • Another issue: initially, electors each had two votes; top 2 vote getters would be President and Vice President. • First problem: Pres. Adams and V.P. Jefferson. • Second problem: Jefferson and Burr tie. • Solution: 12th Amendment. • Electors still get two votes, but one must be for President and one for V.P.
Electoral College (cont.) • Does the Electoral College still make sense? That’s the subject of today’s debate. • “Resolved: The electoral college should be abolished and replaced with something that better reflects the will of the people."