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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Presidency: Friend or Foe?

The presidency is a vastly different institution today from what it was when the constitution was first ratified. Over the years, successive presidents have gained or lost power not envisioned by the framers of the constitution.

The first duty of any President is to take the Oath of Office, thereby affirming his or her allegiance to the United States. This constitutionally mandated oath (usually administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) is one of the few specified instructions that presidents must follow.

Other than the fairly minor oath, the President was given power under the constitution to be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. This stemmed from the framers’ belief that the military should be under civilian control. During the early day of the republic, this position was taken quite literally; George Washington himself led his troops into combat (well, not really, but it got close). Today, that is not the case. While the President was placed in charge of the armed forces, the ability to declare war was vested with Congress. For the first 150 years or so of the Republic, Congress would declare war and the President’s armed forces would carry it out. This has changed over the last 50 years. Presidents can now more easily deploy troops to anywhere in the world, regardless of the constitutional authority Congress has in matters of war.

Another issue of international import is the President’s ability to enter into treaties with foreign nations. Constitutionally, the President needs the advice and consent of the Senate to pass any treaties. That hold true today. After the First World War, President Wilson’s inability to get the Senate to accept the Treaty of Versailles led to America’s non-participation in the League of Nations. More recently, the Senate voted to approve CAFTA. Without Senate approval, that bill would not have been ratified.

But other factors have contributed to the growth of power in the office of the President. Supreme Court cases over the years have expanded the president’s ability to use executive privilege to shield important documents from the public. More power has been given to the President to issue executive orders, allowing the President a significant measure of legislative authority. The president’s capacity to shape the federal budget has increased ever since Congress ceded the right to initiate the budget in 1921.

Besides convenience, necessity has also brought more powers to the presidency. When the Civil War broke out, President Lincoln assumed near dictatorial powers, suspending habeas corpus and the like. During the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing many thousands of Americans of Japanese descent into internment camps. These broad powers were not intended by the founders, but instead derived out of necessity during wartime.

Today, the presidency has powers not envisioned by the framers of the constitution. The President is an incredibly prominent national figure, holding all the powers accumulated over two centuries of governance. The future of the presidency will probably see more powers, or less, depending on the choices those future presidents, Members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices make.

There have been 16 Cries of Anguish:

Blogger Stan maliciously intimated...

You are correct, but there are limits to what a president can do militarily. He cannot for example declare WWIII and deploy hundreds of thousands of troops. He cannot even do what we are doing in Iraq without Congress' consent. He can however, being the Commander in Chief order relatively small operations to protect American interests. Yeah, its a bit of a grey area, but that is what checks and balances are for.

The office of the presidency is like a balloon, and for every emergency the balloon inflates, after such emergency the balloon defaltes, but is now larger than original size. That is what one of my professors asserts anyways, I tend to agree.

But you are correct about the fluidity or evolution of the presidency, but, I believe the founders had envisioned the fact that things will change, especially during and after emergencies such as war.

I just wish our laws against treason and such were really enforced.

12/02/2005 1:58 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo maliciously intimated...

If the presidency was created to adapt to the changing times, why not the rest of the constitution? The whole document was vague in many aspects.

For example, the eight amendment forbade "cruel and unusual" punishment, but never defined what constituted cruelty.

12/02/2005 3:24 PM  
Blogger Miladysa maliciously intimated...

Great music.

12/02/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...

With regard to Cruel and Unusual Punishment, it is to be interpreted. When it came to child pornography the Supreme Court basically said: I'll know it when I see it. Something similar applies to the 8th Amendment.

In Furman v Georgia, Justice Brennan wrote 4 principles regarding cruel and unusual punishment, and since then it has been a precedent which the Supreme Court has followed. I am the kind of "I'll know it when I see it" guy, rather than a precedent follower...unless it's a damn good precedent.

Happy Birthday.

12/02/2005 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous maliciously intimated...

Executive orders have become a problem and have given too much power to the president.

Congress still holds the purse strings and it is said the most powerful congressman is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Constitution is quite clear when it come to Congress and they exceed their authority everyday with all the spending and taxing they authorize that is not providing for the welfare or for the military.

The framers didn't envison a press that is no longer free either. If the powers that be would stick closely to the constitution and amend it properly as it is originally intended then the corruption would be kept to a minimum.

However, Benjamin Franklin said it best during a speech while signing the new Constitution
"In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other". Benjamin Franklin was an astute observer of human nature.

12/02/2005 6:23 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...

A press no longer free?

Amend the Constitution as it was originally intended?
And how would this be done?

12/02/2005 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous maliciously intimated...

J_G Said “Amend the Constitution as it was originally intended?
Cabe asked "And how would this be done?"
Well Cabe the Constitution was designed to change with the times. Provisions were made by the framers to amend the Constitution. Just recently there was talk of adding an amendment to the Constitution about burning the American Flag and according to the Constitution.
Article V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall
propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the
Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for
proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and
Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths
thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the

The Constitution has included 26 amendments since its original inception and signing in 1789. These amendments have included outlawing slavery, limiting the president to two four year terms in office and other things that have come into question such as an income tax. So you see there is a provision for keeping the Constitution up to date without altering its original intent.

Yes, what free press? That is a good question. Seems as though the current press only knows one note, .F*** Bush

12/02/2005 9:06 PM  
Blogger Bhakti maliciously intimated...

From a school teacher's point of view, I say--hey President Bushwacker, please stop worrying about abortion, gay rights, social security, and the Patriot Act, and ratify the Constitution so that public school students across America no longer have to eat these hot 'meals' that are currently being served nationwide. It's been proven that healthy food helps the brain (and lowers the effects of ADD and ADHD), so I propose to you right now, as I stand on my soap box: please stop the Cruel and Unusual Punishment of greasy/soggy smile-face reconstituted fried potatoes, extra greasy pan pizza, etc. I KNOW Cruel and Unusual Punishment when I see it, and serving a vegetarian a soft pretzel with melted ultra-pasteurized UnAmerican cheese is just disgusting. I bet the guys in Guantanamo Bay get fed better than this!

Forget about the prayers in the public schools for one minute and just give us some peas, please. Surely, Mr. President, if you can know what books I'm taking out of the public library, you can find it within your power to feed the kids something healthy. (I bet the veggies would be a lot cheaper than the junk food, anyway.)

12/02/2005 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous maliciously intimated...

Shouldn't it be up to the parents what a child eats and not the government? The nanny state isn't very good at providing care to childrenas you sugesst.Parents should be providing for their children not George Bush.

12/02/2005 9:15 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...

I understand how the Constitution is Amended, I am a Federalist.

J_G: Perhaps I misread your post, but I would like to ask:

How is our press no longer free? Are you suggesting it's biased or that it's controlled by the White House?

12/02/2005 9:33 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo maliciously intimated...

As per the amendment process, there have been six amendments passed by Congress but never ratified. Two of them, the Equal Rights Amendment, and an amendment for Congressional representation in Washington D.C., were given expiration dates.

Secondly, I heard a report once that feeding school kids food that doesn't have sugar in it makes them more focused. With American students falling so far behind the rest of the world, maybe a change in menu would do some good.

12/02/2005 9:57 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...

Get rid of Vending Machines in Public Schools.

12/02/2005 10:13 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo maliciously intimated...

Yeah, all the stuff in vending machines is stale anyway.

12/02/2005 11:18 PM  
Blogger Stan maliciously intimated...

I think our public shcools suck (pun intended), they consistently gripe for more money, some of it justified, but some a waste. I like the idea of seeing results, then rewarding.

Ever heard the phrase:

Appreciate what you have.

12/02/2005 11:20 PM  
Anonymous the pres maliciously intimated...

Hey, you guys look like you could use one of my lovely seasonal gift baskets.

12/03/2005 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous maliciously intimated...

Cabe, I mean in no uncertain terms and to be perfectly clear. The so called mainstream press has become an arm of the Democrat party and their intent is to make sure that only democrats get elected and only laws,rules and regulations passed by Congress and signed by the President are democrat orginated liberal ideals. I am a second amendment advocate and have belonged to as many gun groups as there is and then some.I have worked against the Democrat party and the press for many years trying to make sure no more gun laws are passed and the outrageous ones that are on the books now repealed. I have a hangun carry permit in PA and by golly I carry one because it is my right and duty to carry one. Any questions about where I stand Cabe? :-)

I don't mince words, I know what I believe and I'm not afraid to tell anyone what my beliefs are.

There are other things like I am a Christian and my beliefs are under attack by secularists. I don't worry too much about that though. I worry more about people that supposedly believe in the same things I do that say stupid things. Pat Robertson comes to mind. His words get hung around my neck as if I said them myself when I have discussions with liberals and securlists. I guess senility affects people differently. Representative John Murtha from PA is another one that senility has affected. I guess when you get that age you can say anything you want and get away with it. I can hardly wait.

12/04/2005 3:55 AM  

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