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Essay changes executive branch traditional to modern presidency

The 50th anniversary of his inauguration highlights the consequences—for him, for his successors and for the American people. In the 1950s, Harry S. Nineteenth-century presidents had had to contend with Congressional influences in foreign affairs, and particularly with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But by the early 1960s, the president had become the undisputed architect of U. One reason for this was the emergence of the United States as a great power with global obligations.

But Truman would learn a paradoxical, and in his case bitter, corollary: By ending essay changes executive branch traditional to modern presidency fighting in Korea and holding Communist expansion to a minimum without another limited war, Eisenhower won re-election in 1956 and maintained public backing for his control of foreign affairs.

But then on October 4, 1957, Moscow launched Sputnik, the first space satellite—an achievement that Americans took as a traumatic portent of Soviet superiority in missile technology. Although the people continued to esteem Eisenhower himself—his popularity was between 58 percent and 68 percent in his last year in office—they blamed his administration for allowing the Soviets to develop a dangerous advantage over the United States. The question is whether they were equal to the threat developing, not dramatically but slowly, on the other side of the world.

Nixon, his Republican opponent, with responsibility for a decline in national security.

  1. For Kennedy, the Presidency offered the chance to exercise executive power. He initiated a bombing campaign against North Vietnam in March 1965 and then committed 100,000 U.
  2. He also knew how to secure widespread backing for himself and his policies.
  3. Carter could justify the secrecy as essential to the mission, but after sandstorms and a helicopter crash aborted it, confidence in independent executive action waned. When it came to Vietnam, where he felt compelled to increase the number of U.

Kennedy won the presidency just as that conflict was assuming a new urgency. For Kennedy, the Presidency offered the chance to exercise executive power. Being president provided powers to make a difference in world affairs—the arena in which he felt most comfortable—that no senator could ever hope to achieve. Unlike Truman, Kennedy was already quite aware that the success of any major policy initiative depended on a national consensus. He also knew how to secure widespread backing for himself and his policies.

His four prime-time campaign debates against Nixon had heralded the rise of television as a force in politics; as president, Kennedy held live televised press conferences, which the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

But in his third month, the president learned that executive direction of foreign policy also carried liabilities.

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His decision rested on two fears: The invasion ended in disaster: It was a challenge that Kennedy saw fit to manage exclusively with his White House advisers.

On October 16, 1962—while his administration was gathering intelligence on the new threat, but before making it public—he betrayed a hint of his isolation by reciting, during a speech to journalists at the State Department, a version of a rhyme by a bullfighter named Domingo Ortega: But he also worried that a first strike against the Soviet installations in Cuba would turn peace advocates everywhere against the United States.

To ensure domestic support for his decision—and in essay changes executive branch traditional to modern presidency of calls by some members of Congress for a more aggressive response—Kennedy went on national television at 7 p. His intent was to build a consensus not merely for the quarantine but also for any potential military conflict with the Soviet Union. That potential, however, went unfulfilled: When it came to Vietnam, where he felt compelled to increase the number of U.

The effect wears off, and you have to take another. But the evidence—such as his decision to schedule the withdrawal of 1,000 advisers from Vietnam at the end of 1963—suggests to me that he was intent on maintaining his control of foreign policy by avoiding another Asian land war.

True, he wanted a show of Congressional backing for any major steps he took—hence the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964, which authorized him to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. But as the cold war accelerated events overseas, Johnson assumed he had license to make unilateral judgments on how to proceed in Vietnam.

It was a miscalculation that would cripple his presidency. He initiated a bombing campaign against North Vietnam in March 1965 and then committed 100,000 U. When he announced the expansion of ground forces that July 28, he did so not in a nationally televised address or before a joint Congressional session, but during a press conference in which he tried to dilute the news by also disclosing his nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court. Similarly, after he decided to commit an additional 120,000 U.

But Johnson could not control the pace of the war, and as it turned into a long-term struggle costing the United States thousands of lives, increasing numbers of Americans questioned the wisdom of fighting what had begun to seem like an unwinnable conflict.

  1. Bush photographed in New York City, 2001 sought Congressional resolutions before invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but lost public support over time.
  2. Nineteenth-century presidents had had to contend with Congressional influences in foreign affairs, and particularly with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  3. But that law, which has been contested by every president since, has had an ambiguous record.

In August 1967, R. How do you know when LBJ is telling the truth? When he pulls his ear lobe and rubs his chin, he is telling the truth.

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By 1968, it was clear that he had little hope of winning re-election. On March 31, he announced that he would not run for another term and that he planned to begin peace talks in Paris. During his 1968 presidential campaign, he had secretly advised South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to resist peace overtures until after the U. In the ensuing unrest, four students at Kent State University in Ohio and two at Jackson State University in Mississippi were fatally shot by National Guard troops and police, respectively.

The revelations that he had deceived the public and Congress as the scandal unfolded also undermined presidential power.

Power and the Presidency, From Kennedy to Obama

The Supreme Court, in ruling in 1974 that Nixon had to release White House tape recordings that revealed his actions on Watergate, reined in presidential powers and reasserted the influence of the judiciary. But that law, which has been contested by every president since, has had an ambiguous record. When the operation cost 41 military lives to rescue 39 sailors, he suffered in the court of public opinion.

Carter could justify the secrecy as essential to the mission, but after sandstorms and a helicopter crash aborted it, confidence in independent executive action waned. Ronald Reagan informed Congress of his decisions to commit U. Bush won a Congressional resolution supporting his decision to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. At the same time, he unilaterally chose not to expand the conflict into Iraq, but even that assertion of power was seen as a bow to Congressional and public opposition to a wider war.

And while Bill Clinton chose to consult with Congressional leaders on operations to enforce a U.

7a. The Evolution of the Presidency

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, George W. Bush won Congressional resolutions backing the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but both were substantial military actions that under any traditional reading of the Constitution required declarations of war.

The unresolved problems attached to these conflicts have once again raised concerns about the wisdom of fighting wars without more definitive support. Barack Obama does not appear to have fully grasped the Truman lesson on the political risks of unilateral executive action in foreign affairs.

His decision in late 2009 to expand the war in Afghanistan—albeit with withdrawal timelines—rekindled worries about an imperial presidency. Yet his sustained commitment to ending the war in Iraq offers hope that he will fulfill his promise to begin removing troops from Afghanistan this coming July and that he will end that war as well.

Perhaps the lesson to be taken from the presidents since Kennedy is one Arthur Schlesinger suggested almost 40 years ago, writing about Nixon: For the American President ruled by influence; and the withdrawal of consent, by Congress, by the press, by public opinion, could bring any President down.

Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953. Kennedy vowed in his inaugural address. His response to the Soviet threat helped expand executive authority. Johnson, right, with Gen. Nixon, pictured in Beijing's Forbidden City, 1972, arranged his overture to China in secret. Essay changes executive branch traditional to modern presidency, with Secretary of State Henry A.

Kissinger, 1975, sent naval vessels to liberate the ship Mayaguez without consulting Congress. Here, Carter signs a letter to Tehran in 1981. Corbis Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech here, in West Berlin, 1987 was hailed as a triumph, but his aides' efforts to help Nicaraguan rebels by selling arms to Iran turned into a scandal.

Norman Schwarzkopf, 1990, chose restraint at the end of the Gulf War. Corbis Bill Clinton pictured here with U. Bush photographed in New York City, 2001 sought Congressional resolutions before invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but lost public support over time.