The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

“It is the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority,” wrote Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. The balance of power between Congress and the president has been a powerful thread throughout American political thought since the time of the Founding Fathers. And yet, for all that has been written on the topic, we still lack a solid empirical or theoretical justification for Hamilton’s proposition.
For the first time, William G. Howell, Saul P. Jackman, and Jon C. Rogowski systematically analyze the question. Congress, they show, is more likely to defer to the president’s policy preferences when political debates center on national rather than local considerations. Thus, World War II and the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq significantly augmented presidential power, allowing the president to enact foreign and domestic policies that would have been unattainable in times of peace. But, contrary to popular belief, there are also times when war has little effect on a president’s influence in Congress. The Vietnam and Gulf Wars, for instance, did not nationalize our politics nearly so much, and presidential influence expanded only moderately.
Built on groundbreaking research, The Wartime President offers one of the most significant works ever written on the wartime powers presidents wield at home.
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About the author

William G. Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and professor of political science in the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including, most recently, Thinking about the Presidency: The Primacy of Power and While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential War Powers. Saul P. Jackman is a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Jon C. Rogowski is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Aug 14, 2013
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780226048420
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / General
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Political Process / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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An “ambitious...deep history and a thoughtful inquiry into how the constitutional system of checks and balances has functioned when it comes to waging war and making peace” (The Washington Post)—here is the full, compelling account of this never-ending debate.

The Constitution states that it is Congress that declares war, but it is the presidents who have more often taken us to war and decided how to wage it. In Waging War, David J. Barron opens with an account of George Washington and the Continental Congress over Washington’s plan to burn New York City before the British invasion. Congress ordered him not to, and he obeyed. Barron takes us through all the wars that followed: 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American war, World Wars One and Two, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now, most spectacularly, the War on Terror. Congress has criticized George W. Bush for being too aggressive and Barack Obama for not being aggressive enough, but it avoids a vote on the matter. By recounting how our presidents have declared and waged wars, Barron shows that these executives have had to get their way without openly defying Congress.

In this “vivid…rich and detailed history” (The New York Times Book Review), Waging War shows us our country’s revered and colorful presidents at their most trying times—Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Johnson, both Bushes, and Obama. Their wars have made heroes of some and victims of others, but most have proved adept at getting their way over reluctant or hostile Congresses. Donald Trump will face this challenge immediately—and the Constitution and its fragile system of checks and balances will once again be at the forefront of the national debate. More essential than ever, Waging War is “both timely and timeless” (The Boston Globe).
Democracy-government by the people, or directly responsible to them-was not the object which the framers of the American Constitution had in view, but the very thing which they wished to avoid. In the convention which drafted that instrument it was recognized that democratic ideas had made sufficient progress among the masses to put an insurmountable obstacle in the way of any plan of government which did not confer at least the form of political power upon the people. Accordingly the efforts of the Constitutional Convention were directed to the task of devising a system of government which was just popular enough not to excite general opposition and which at the same time gave to the people as little as possible of the substance of political power.-from "Chapter III: The Constitution Reactionary Document"It was written a century ago, in 1907, but this rethinking of the legacy of the American founding fathers continues to inspire historical revisionists today. The opening salvo in what was to become a cottage industry of conspiracy theories, this startling and angry work posits that the American Constitution is not, in fact, a bastion of power-to-the-people philosophy but is, rather, the result of a political plot by the economic elite of the colonies to retain as much supremacy as possible for themselves.A shattering blow to the iconic images of the men who made America, this is a provocative and shocking read.OF INTEREST TO: readers of American history, students of the culture warsJAMES ALLEN SMITH (1860-1926) was professor of political science at the University of Washington.
What Kind of Nation is a riveting account of the bitter and protracted struggle between two titans of the early republic over the power of the presidency and the independence of the judiciary.

The clash between fellow Virginians (and second cousins) Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall remains the most decisive confrontation between a president and a chief justice in American history. Fought in private as well as in full public view, their struggle defined basic constitutional relationships in the early days of the republic and resonates still in debates over the role of the federal government vis-à-vis the states and the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret laws.

Jefferson was a strong advocate of states' rights who distrusted the power of the federal government. He believed that the Constitution defined federal authority narrowly and left most governmental powers to the states. He was suspicious of the Federalist-dominated Supreme Court, whose members he viewed as partisan promoters of their political views at the expense of Jefferson's Republicans. When he became president, Jefferson attempted to correct the Court's bias by appointing Republicans to the Court. He also supported an unsuccessful impeachment of Federalist Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

Marshall believed in a strong federal government and was convinced that an independent judiciary offered the best protection for the Constitution and the nation. After he was appointed by Federalist President John Adams to be chief justice in 1801 (only a few weeks before Jefferson succeeded Adams), he issued one far-reaching opinion after another. Beginning with the landmark decision Marbury v. Madison in 1803, and through many cases involving states' rights, impeachment, treason, and executive privilege, Marshall established the Court as the final arbiter of the Constitution and the authoritative voice for the constitutional supremacy of the federal government over the states.

As Marshall's views prevailed, Jefferson became increasingly bitter, certain that the Court was suffocating the popular will. But Marshall's carefully reasoned rulings endowed the Court with constitutional authority even as they expanded the power of the federal government, paving the way for later Court decisions sanctioning many pivotal laws of the modern era, such as those of the New Deal, the Great Society, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a fascinating description of the treason trial of Jefferson's former vice president, Aaron Burr, James F. Simon shows how Marshall rebuffed President Jefferson's claim of executive privilege. That decision served as precedent for a modern Supreme Court ruling rejecting President Nixon's claim that he did not have to hand over the Watergate tapes.

More than 150 years after Jefferson's and Marshall's deaths, their words and achievements still reverberate in constitutional debate and political battle. What Kind of Nation is a dramatic rendering of a bitter struggle between two shrewd politicians and powerful statesmen that helped create a United States.
Since the early 1960s, scholarly thinking on the power of U.S. presidents has rested on these words: "Presidential power is the power to persuade." Power, in this formulation, is strictly about bargaining and convincing other political actors to do things the president cannot accomplish alone. Power without Persuasion argues otherwise. Focusing on presidents' ability to act unilaterally, William Howell provides the most theoretically substantial and far-reaching reevaluation of presidential power in many years. He argues that presidents regularly set public policies over vocal objections by Congress, interest groups, and the bureaucracy.

Throughout U.S. history, going back to the Louisiana Purchase and the Emancipation Proclamation, presidents have set landmark policies on their own. More recently, Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans during World War II, Kennedy established the Peace Corps, Johnson got affirmative action underway, Reagan greatly expanded the president's powers of regulatory review, and Clinton extended protections to millions of acres of public lands. Since September 11, Bush has created a new cabinet post and constructed a parallel judicial system to try suspected terrorists.


Howell not only presents numerous new empirical findings but goes well beyond the theoretical scope of previous studies. Drawing richly on game theory and the new institutionalism, he examines the political conditions under which presidents can change policy without congressional or judicial consent. Clearly written, Power without Persuasion asserts a compelling new formulation of presidential power, one whose implications will resound.

The real collusion in the 2016 election was not between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. It was between the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration.

The media–Democrat “collusion narrative,” which paints Donald Trump as cat’s paw of Russia, is a studiously crafted illusion.

Despite Clinton’s commanding lead in the polls, hyper-partisan intelligence officials decided they needed an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. Thus was born the collusion narrative, built on an anonymously sourced “dossier,” secretly underwritten by the Clinton campaign and compiled by a former British spy. Though acknowledged to be “salacious and unverified” at the FBI’s highest level, the dossier was used to build a counterintelligence investigation against Trump’s campaign.

Miraculously, Trump won anyway. But his political opponents refused to accept the voters’ decision. Their collusion narrative was now peddled relentlessly by political operatives, intelligence agents, Justice Department officials, and media ideologues—the vanguard of the “Trump Resistance.” Through secret surveillance, high-level intelligence leaking, and tireless news coverage, the public was led to believe that Trump conspired with Russia to steal the election.

Not one to sit passively through an onslaught, President Trump fought back in his tumultuous way. Matters came to a head when he fired his FBI director, who had given explosive House testimony suggesting the president was a criminal suspect, despite privately assuring Trump otherwise. The resulting firestorm of partisan protest cowed the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, whose seemingly limitless investigation bedeviled the administration for two years.

Yet as months passed, concrete evidence of collusion failed to materialize. Was the collusion narrative an elaborate fraud? And if so, choreographed by whom? Against media–Democrat caterwauling, a doughty group of lawmakers forced a shift in the spotlight from Trump to his investigators and accusers. This has exposed the depth of politicization within American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is now clear that the institutions on which our nation depends for objective policing and clear-eyed analysis injected themselves scandalously into the divisive politics of the 2016 election.

They failed to forge a new Clinton administration. Will they succeed in bringing down President Trump?
Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
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