Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Presidency

Stephen Skowronek says it all:

Presidential action in history is politicized by the order-shattering, order-affirming, and order-creating impulses inherent in the institution itself.  The presidency is an order-shattering institution in that it prompts each incumbent to take charge of the independent powers of his office and to exercise them in his own right.  It is an order-affirming institution in that the disruptive effects of the exercise of presidential power must be justified in constitutional terms broadly construed as the protection, preservation, and defense of values emblematic of the body politic.  It is an order-creating institution in that it prompts each incumbent to use his powers to construct some new political arrangements that can stand the test of legitimacy within the other institutions of government as well as the nation at large.  Getting these three impulses to work together---the political message and practical effect of each reinforcing the others---is no easy matter.  That is why incumbents so often find themselves at cross purposes.  As a general formulation, however, we might venture that to secure a place in history even roughly on his own terms, a president must be able to exercise his power in such a way that these order-shattering, order-affirming, order-creating impulses operate in tandem.

1 comment:

  1. I would be curious to know how other readers and Unity Politics might evaluate recent Presidents, including Obama in his first year, based on this model.