The Presidency

Powers of the Presidency:

Of the three co-equal branches of government, only one is dominated by an individual: the Executive Branch.  Of the three, the one branch that is dedicated to action over deliberation is the executive.  Congress acts, but not until after deliberation and  voting.  The Supreme Court can ask for action, but the other two branches have to comply to get something done. As both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln can attest.

The list of powers a President has is quite extensive.  A President has power over the military, can do direct diplomacy, can appoint judges and underofficers, executive orders, pardon people, propose legislation and even has some hidden emergency powers.

Presidents serve fixed four year terms, and since the 22nd Amendment, can only serve 8 years unless they are serving less than 2 years of a previous President’s term. The twenty-second Amendment was to keep anyone from being like FDR, who served four terms.(1932-1945).

Presidents have to be a natural born citizen-the idea was that a President, elected by all of the people, would have allegiance only to the United States.  Also, no foreign power could plant a mole into the Presidency.

A President also has to be 35 and resident in the United States fourteen years.  Of all of the qualifications there, I doubt that anyone wants to lower either.  As a practical matter, the time it takes to even be ready to make a race pretty much means you have to pretty much up there in age.  A thirty-five year old:  4 years of college-either early on regular age takes you to age 20 at least.  Congressperson has to be at least 25. A couple of terms takes you to 27 there. And no one has ever gone directly from the House to the White House.  In any event, that’s 6 Congressional terms-and most people who want to give the White House a try need to at least run statewide.  Senate?  Thirty years old-2 terms takes you just there.  Governorships vary with state, but there was a reason that Bill Clinton at 30 was called the “Boy Wonder” and one of the youngest Governors ever.

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Now…Bits of Presidential Trivia.  Presidents who have been Generals.. George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Rutherford B Hayes, (poss) Theodore Roosevelt,  Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Dwight Eisenhower, Benjamin Harrison, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson.  The last was Eisenhower.

Presidents who were bachelors: Woodrow Wilson (1914-1915), Benjamin Harrison (1893), Grover Cleveland (1885), Chester A. Arthur, James Buchanan, John Tyler (1842-1844), Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson. Woodrow Wilson was the last due to improved healthcare-especially for women.

Presidents with no Vice President:

  • Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1964)
  • Harry S. Truman (1945-1949}
  • Calvin Coolidge )1923-1925)
  • Chester A Arthur
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1905)
  • Ulysees S. Grant (1873-1877)
  • Franklin Pierce (1854-1857)
  • John Tyler

Before the 25th Amendment, there was no mechanism for a sitting President to appoint a Vice President.  So Presidents whose VP died or resigned had to wait for a re-election nomination or let the clock run out if already re-nominated.  In a sense LBJ was in the same situation.  When Kennedy died, he had to wait until the next year and a re-election campaign to get a VP.  After Kennedy’s death and under the impulse of the Cold War leaving the Presidency vacant, Congress decided enough was enough here.

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