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1. (a)Briefly describe the three criteria that many historians and political scientists use to determine what makes for a great, good and/or successful president (applied retrospectively, that is, many years after he has left office).
The most successful presidents effectively respond to crisis by either shaping or implementing popular will. Crises put leaders in a difficult spot: everybody is looking to them for direction, yet a crisis makes it very difficult and painful to provide just that (Office of the Federal Register, 2000). Crises in this case refers to those situations of higher threat to national security in which the president and other decision makers perceive a threat and feel they are under great time pressure to respond effectively to it. Perception is important as a determinant of policy crises, because how president perceives the nature, gravity, and urgency of the case will greatly influence how he will behave in response of that situation (John, 2000).
In most if not all crisis, the moment arrives when a single individual must make faithful choice about the course of government’s course of action. They may seek to obtain counsel from others, such as professional advisers and political associates. In making choices, leaders have to somehow discount uncertainties, overcome any anxieties they may feel, control their impulses, and commit government’s resources to a course of action they can only hope is both effective and appropriate in the political context they are in (McCullough 2003).
Successful presidents must have a vision for the country. They will want to use the office of president in all means possible to be able to change the United States. With vision as their guiding tool, they tend to be more active when implementing their agenda (John, 2000). Although at times the implementation may fail a president will still get credit for having and trying to implement a vision. A president with no vision achieves nothing, because with no vision nothing can be achieved. Presidency with no vision results in failure.
A president must also use his office to make policy, both domestic and foreign, for his country. The more policies a president makes and are passed, the higher he is ranked. In addition, presidents also get credit for the appointments they make into the public office. In this area of evaluation the appointments to the presidential cabinet and Supreme Court is also included. Assigning first-class, skilled people reflects positively on a president.
The most successful presidents are those who effectively apply their distinctiveness and leadership to steer the nation to success. All the major characteristics and leadership style, however good cannot makes a great, good and/or successful president if he or she does not apply them to make the nation better. The policies the president makes, both domestic and foreign must be to the good of the nation. All along, the presidents success has not only be measured by the number of policies and legislations that he or she has managed to push through the congress but also according to the impact of this policies on the social life and more so, on the social equality in U.S society. Policies that makes better the life of the poor and the minorities enhances the ranking of the president in terms of success. The As the economic and political leader, the president is held responsible for the economic and political climate in terms of whether times are favorable or bad. Many years after the president leaves office, his policies and decisions will be evaluated in terms of how they made the nation better or worse.
(b) Name at least two presidents during there term that you consider great, good and/or successful who met either all three or at least two of the three criteria, and note some of their accomplishments that qualify under said criteria
The Former president Woodrow Wilson had all the standards and achievements that define a successful president. He successfully refined the relation between the legislature and the executive through his displayed potent intellect and audacious vision of expanded presidential influence. A zealous defender of America's official neutrality and pacifism during the first three years of the first World War, Wilson, found himself drawn into an intervention in Mexico and the participation of the U.S. in the Great War (Hosford, 1912).
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Wilson's presidency realized the progressive of reform agenda. In addition, it also led to the formation to the contemporary activist presidency. Wilson entered White House like a "priestly visionary," with the intention of increasing economic opportunity for common man in the society and abolishing the special privileges the richest and powerful people in the society enjoyed. Prior to the commencing of his program, Wilson lengthily made consultation with the congressional leaders to make certain that his programs will be would be looked at considerately when being considered by the Congress. In April 1913, Wilson personally made an appearance before the congress to explain his tariff reform program before a joint session of the Senate and House. Wilson’s speech hit the headlines with a storm as since John Adams no president had personally addressed the Congress. This demonstrated that Wilson had an intention of playing a dominant role when making policies.
Harry Truman is one man whose divineness in times of crises has become legendary. He had the willingness to make tough policy decisions regardless of political consequences (McCullough 2003). The sign that stood upon his desk in the oval office bore the inscription ‘the buck stops here’ and throughout his presidency, Truman recognized this most fundamental aspect of his job. Truman has no more polarized and contentious legacy than his decisions that the outcome led to the break out of the Cold War. From that moment the atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, historians have since reviewed the decision-making process taken by Truman. A very polarized argument developed. Notwithstanding the fact that Harry Truman left White House having the lowest ratings of approval than any other president in history, Truman has become one of the most researched and quoted figures in the history of America. A major reason of why Truman has been such a prominent figure in history is the perception of who Harry Truman was and his where about.
(c) Name at least two presidents that you consider as weak, poor and/or unsuccessful and why they may be considered failures under the same criteria as above.
Jimmy carter succumbed to the cumulative pressures brought upon him by the second world oil crisis, the soviet nation invasion of Afghanistan, and Iranian hostage crisis. These complex and dynamic events shattered key components of his world view. Perhaps more importantly, the Iranian hostage crisis wore him down psychologically. A micromanager by inclination, he met with his innermost advisers almost every day at the breakfast for over a year to discuss the crisis. Eventually, the frustrating lack of progress, the increasingly bitter disagreements between his state department and the national security advisors, failure of military rescue mission, and the increasingly public humiliation of his presidency which the hostage crisis elicited, got to him.
Carter's incompetence and indecisiveness became apparent to the rest of the World. With Carter in the Oval Office, the Soviet Union took great advantage. The eastern neighbor Afghanistan was invaded by the Communist country, commencing an attempt to grab power aimed at ultimate Soviet takeovers in Pakistan and Iran. Carter responded to the invasion of Afghanistan by boycotting the 1980 Olympic Games which were held in Moscow.
On the other hand, Lyndon Johnson could not deal with the conflict in Vietnam. This inability lowed his ranking as a president, despite the major accomplishment he made domestically. The war in Vietnam brought the worst out of Johnson. When he failed to deal with the conflict effectively to some extent it rested on his character flaws: his grandiosity that could conquer obstacles and his desire to view criticism of his policies as personal attacks which he would have to overcome by accelerating his efforts to make his policies successful.
Explain the difference between the respective views of W.H. Taft and Teddy Roosevelt regarding:
(a) the scope and limits of presidential powers under the Constitution
President Theodore Roosevelt believed that the president should wield inherent power. He declared that the president has the ‘residuum of power’ meaning that the president has power to do anything provided it is not forbidden by the constitution. He also believed that the president should not have to seek the approval of the congress on everything. Without asking Congress for its approval, Roosevelt sent the American army to the Dominican nation and around the world without seeking the approval of the congress and also launched the construction of the Panama Canal without consulting the congress. Roosevelt’s successor William Howard Taft had a very different view on presidency. He did not agree with his predecessor as far as imperial presidency. It was during his term that excessive powers of the imperial presidents were put on check.
(b) the role of the president as leader of the nation
Theodore Roosevelt believed that the president should show leadership of his or her country in the face of overwhelming challenges. He believed that some circumstances required the leader to even break some customs and defy expectations so as to provide leadership. His view on leadership is captured by a modern business reader as the greatness of a true American icon. On the other hand, William Howard Taft's leadership style can be said that he lacked passion for the position. In addition, he was made to do his operations under the shadows of his predecessor, Roosevelt, who was known to be energetic, forceful, and a natural leader.
(c) The president’s relationship to Congress.
The relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the congress was a strained one. Roosevelt mocked the debates and insisted that they were time consuming. He is on record calling the members of congress ‘scoundrels and crooks" and "fools.’ He did not have any time for the congress and he never at any time address the whole congregation, although he used to send them some messages. He by passed the congress during his decision making because he was of the view that the country needed quick and vigorous decisions. On the other hand, William Howard Taft was a strong believer of rule of law. He usually sought approval of the congress in his decisions.
(d) Of the Presidents that you cited above (in question #1), which would appear to agree with Roosevelt, and which would appear to agree with Taft?
On the issue of the scope and limits of presidential powers under the Constitution, it is obvious that President Theodore Roosevelt view on imperial presidency was wrong. Such a view has no place in the modern politics and leadership. It was important that Taft reintroduced checks on the imperial presidency. On the second point about the role of the president as leader of the nation, I agree with President Theodore Roosevelt view that the president should provide clear leadership to the nation.
On the third point, President Theodore Roosevelt was also wrong on his view on the congress. This arm of the government should be involved and responsible when it comes to making serious decisions on governance.
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