The Limits of Presidential Power

Obama Syria

Even after a major push by the Obama Administration this past week, the major news outlets led today with the following:

Suggesting an uphill fight for President Barack Obama, House members staking out positions are either opposed to or leaning against his plan for a U.S. military strike against Syria by more than a 6-1 margin, a survey by The Associated Press shows. The Senate is more evenly divided ahead of its vote next week.

The report also noted that:

After a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, polls have shown Americans consistently oppose intervention in Syria, a fact Obama acknowledged after meeting fellow leaders of the leading rich and developing nations Friday.

The President’s recent difficulty in rousing support for the Syrian strike seems an excellent occasion to contemplate the nature (and limits) of presidential leadership from the Political Science literature.

The way students of American politics have understood presidential leadership has evolved over time. Early literature focused on the formal powers of the presidency as the source of presidential leadership. Later scholars, following Neustadt (1960), began to assert that the president’s real power consisted in the power to persuade. This conceptual shift engendered a corresponding emphasis on the personal capacities of individual presidents to inspire confidence, induce action, and strike bargains. More recently, however, understanding of presidential leadership has shifted yet again. After briefly revisiting Neustadt, this post will highlight two such works: Skowronek’s The Politics Presidents Make (1997), which presents presidential leadership as a function of nested agency, and Edwards’ The Strategic Presidency (2009), which poses a serious challenge to the notion that presidents even possess the power to persuade.

Neustadt

The Neustadt Thesis

Richard Neustadt’s 1960 Presidential Power is an oft-cited classic in America politics and most famous for the proposition that presidential power is the “power to persuade.” Neustadt’s work presented detailed analyses of presidential leadership. In each case he argued compellingly that the heart of presidential leadership lay not in the president’s formal powers of command, but in his ability to elicit compliance with his wishes without recourse to the cumbersome exercise of formal powers. Neustadt presents, for example, Truman’s firing of General MacArthur or seizing of steel mills in the 1950’s as a costly exercise of formal power resulting from a failure by the president to direct the actions of the headstrong general or orchestrate a settlement between steel industry management and labor. He then presents instances where the president was able through effective communication and bargaining to sway others to follow his lead.

One of the sources of the modern president’s persuasiveness, suggested Neustadt, is his ability to draw support from the national electorate through direct appeals which he can then leverage against other political actors. This thread is picked up and explored by Kernell in Going Public (1997), who suggests that this strategy of going over the heads of Congress to appeal to the mass public bypasses “internal mechanisms of exchange” which may alienate potentially vital bargaining partners within Congress. Kernell argues that not only is the emergence of such a practice a sign of deinstitutionalization of our representative political system, but is likely to benefit the president only when he or she is very popular.

Skowronek

The Skowronek Model

Skowronek, in The Politics Presidents Make (1997) presents a nested account of presidential leadership. Rather than simply reflecting a president’s own personal capacities, presidential leadership should be understood as interplay between several contextual factors. Presidents come to office, argues Skowronek, either opposed to the previously established regime or by affiliation with it. Transitions of power are inherently disruptive and the established regime is either vulnerable to collapse or resilient, depending upon public support for its ideological commitments. Each possible combination places the incoming president in a different posture, which in turn determines the “political impact of the leadership projects presidents undertake” (Skowronek 1997). Thus, presidential leadership is a matter of structure and agency in tandem.

“In the first cell of the typology,” says Skowronek, “the president heralds from the opposition to the previously established regime, and pre-established commitments of ideology and interest have, in the course of events, become vulnerable to direct repudiation as failed or irrelevant responses to the problems of the day.” The presidencies of Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR can be so categorized. These presidents, engaged in what Skowronek calls the politics of reconstruction, “each set out to retrieve from a far distant, even mythic, past fundamental values that they claimed had been lost in the indulgences of the received order.” While there is nothing to suggest that these were inherently great men or that they were particularly adept at solving the nation’s problems—Skowronek gives several examples of failure to illustrate—they are distinct primarily because of their wide latitude for independent action, afforded by their relationship to the previous governing coalition.

Sometimes however, presidents arrive in office affiliated with rather than in opposition to a vulnerable regime. These presidents are engaged in what Skowronek calls the politics of disjunction. He cites John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Pierce, Buchanan, Hoover, and Carter as examples. Such figures, rising to power by aligning themselves with ideological commitments increasingly viewed as bankrupt, find themselves in an unenviable position: “To affirm previously established commitments is to stigmatize oneself as a symptom of the nation’s problems and the premier symbol of systemic political failure; to repudiate them is to become isolated from one’s most natural political allies and to be rendered impotent.” Hence, the apparent weakness or failure of such presidents in American history may not necessary tell us very much about their personal leadership qualities—it is quite plausible on this view that some individuals with exceptional leadership qualities simply found themselves in circumstances under which failure was all but inevitable.

Next, some presidents rise to office by affiliation with a previously established regime which remains resilient. Such figures as Monroe, Polk, TR, and LBJ, says Skowronek, operate according to the politics of articulation. These “orthodox-innovators” operate in office both constrained by previous commitments and empowered by the presently vital coalition with which they are aligned.

These presidents cast their leadership as wholly constructive rearticulations of the received orthodoxy; no one and nothing of significance was to be repudiated. In giving full vent to the fully affirmative course, their impact on national politics proved to be as profound as that of the opposition leaders who have founded new political orders by repudiating past commitments outright.

Notably, Polk, TR, and LBJ each declined reelection opportunities, perhaps signaling “that power would be, or was, exercised selflessly in genuine service to the regime.”

In the last cell of Skowronek’s typology a president rises to office in opposition to a resilient regime. This is called the politics of preemption and describes the presidencies of Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Wilson, and Nixon. “Like all opposition leaders, these presidents have the freedom of their independence from established commitments, but unlike presidents in a politics of reconstruction, their repudiative authority is manifestly limited by the political, institutional, and ideological support that the old establishment maintains.” This category may be the most dependent on the personal leadership characteristics of the president as well as the more specific vagaries of the circumstances.

What Skowronek’s typology suggests is that there are clear patterns of contextual circumstances that may explain a good deal of the variation in presidential leadership. Indeed, much of what is historically ascribed to the personal leadership qualities may owe a great deal more to the structural context in which the figure operated and much of what is deemed leadership style may constitute fairly predictable responses to those contexts. While not denying a role for individual agency, this perspective offers a more nuanced view of the impact of presidential leadership than some of the more personalized accounts of the Neustadt school. To be clear, Skowronek does not appear to suggest that personal traits do not matter. On the contrary, the personal contributions of presidents cannot be truly understood without an appreciation of the institutional contexts in which they operate.

FDR Fireside Chat

Presidential Leadership and the Capacity to Persuade

If presidential leadership does matter, the question arises as to how it matters. Of course the Neustadt thesis asserts that presidents lead primarily through persuasion. This persuasion means in part moving public opinion. Successful presidents, under this view, are those that can move opinion in support of their policies. Edwards’ The Strategic President (2009) asks whether presidents are the opinion leaders which they are commonly assumed to be. Can some presidents drive public opinion in their favor? Edwards says no. He examines three of the strongest historical cases of presidential persuasion—Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan—and finds each one wanting.

Edwards

These three figures, argues Edwards, were facilitators playing the hand they were dealt. In the case of Lincoln, the war was thrust upon him by rebellious secessionists, and emancipation was a strategic decision only undertaken once he was sure the public would support the move. Edwards’ review of the record shows that FDR was eager to engage in WWII but could not move an isolationist public in his favor and had to rely on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to bring the public around. By the early Reagan administration, polls showed a public that was already turning in opposition to Reagan’s proposed budget cuts. Reagan was able to pass his agenda in Congress despite his lack of public support not because of it. What each of these cases is supposed to demonstrate is that the president cannot move public opinion independent of events, and the president can only carry his agenda through bargaining with elites.

Ronald Reagan

Of course, while Edwards does expose serious problems with the assumption that presidents move public opinion in the strongest sense, there are a couple of reasons why Edwards’ case is not conclusive on the point. First, Edwards does not tackle framing effects on public opinion.  It might be that considerable indirect persuasion takes place by co-opting an oppositions’ argument or emphasizing certain factors to the exclusion of others. Successfully re-characterizing an issue as one of ‘national security’ or ‘humanitarian’ might often etiolate substantial opposition by re-conceptualizing the issue as one in which only one conclusion is morally (or practically) tenable. Second, much of Edwards’ evidence about public opinion depends on responses to polls which themselves are susceptible to framing effects and issue salience. Moreover, the dichotomous nature of many polling questions do not allow for the expression of weak or highly nuanced opinions. For many reasons therefore, the polls may not be capturing the sincere or stable opinions of members of the voting public (cf. Zaller 1992).

It appears that Neustadt gave us a more nuanced perspective of presidential leadership than he inherited. Since 1960, much academic literature on the presidency has been in response to Neustadt, affirming him at points, but also calling into question the completeness of his portrait of presidential leadership. Our two authors together ask us to consider the context of presidential leadership as well as the nature and extent of the president’s persuasive ability.

Here’s a good question to ponder: Where does Obama fit in Skowronek’s presidential typology and why?

A.K.

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36 thoughts on “The Limits of Presidential Power

  1. Of these four “types” of presidents listed by Skowronek, I think that President Obama fits more closely with Skowronek’s presidential typology of politics of reconstruction. At the beginning of his presidency, Obama came in as a completely different administration and not affiliated with the previous one. But Obama has had to abide by the previous commitments made by the United States in the Middle East and around the world that have been unpopular but must be honored, even though he had the support of both houses. As his second term came about, he has had to deal more with limited authority that came about with a change of leadership in the House, such as is in politics of preemption. Even though he did not have majority opposition from the previous regime in the beginning, those leaders are now in a position to limit the authority of President Obama, though not completely.

  2. I believe president Obama falls under the Skowronek model of “politics of reconstruction”. This is because as a democratic president he sought to change the ways of the previous Republican regime. He has done this by raising taxes, creating universal health care, and has begun to pull US troops out of the Middle East. All of these tasks were done in opposition to his Conservative predecessor, George W. Bush. Although the House of Representatives is lead by the Republicans, the president now has a Democratic majority in the Senate. This type of split government will make it hard for legislation to be passed that is extremely liberal or conservative. With the Senate on the president’s side, he seems to be trying to seek the regime of FDR and Jackson.

  3. Out of Skowronek’s typology, it seems to me that Obama fits in most with the last one, which involves having opposition to a “resilient regime.” Although the majority of the country had a strong dislike for George W. Bush’s presidency, almost half did not and still does not. If the economy is not back on track by the end of Obama’s second term, the democrats will blame it on the republicans by saying he couldn’t get anything done because they wouldn’t let him, which in a way is true.

    The rebublican party still has a very strong say in the government even though they lost the white house, and Obama is having to deal with opposition to everything that he does. Some people say they down-vote everything he puts up just because it’s him, others at least take the time to look at it and decide that it’s a bad policy in their opinion. Either way, half the country is against him and doesn’t seem to be making it any easier, so I would definitely say they are resilient. In the case with Syria, even his own party does not back him up, so we’re all kind of confused there.

    Obama is facing more opposition in his second term than before, which will probably result in not much at all happening for the next few years. People often overestimate the power of the President and seem to forget that the real power falls unto those who are there to represent us as individuals.

    (Also let it be known that I wrote this on the bus back from Texas, Roll Tide.)

  4. Obama is probably put under the typology of politics of reconstruction. Obama was in no real way connected or affiliated with the Bush presidency or any presidency before it. He may have not inherited as catastrophic problems as Lincoln or FDR, but he was left with problems none the less. He inherited an office connected to a publicly hated war, a huge national debt, and an office that receives blame for any political failure. He did not change the ideology too much of the office with his arrival. He continues to allow soldiers in the Middle East and even followed through with some of the withdrawal plans from the previous administration. He has for the most part kept tax codes the same. He has made is mark through several actions including ObamaCare. But as Neustadt states his power and actions have been put in place due to his great power of persuasion of the people and Congress. He directly could not of done anything by himself.

  5. I believe President Obama is in the catagory of politics of reconstruction. He falls in this category because he came to power as president in a time of economic hardship and poverty. He became president during a time in which the country needed a different type of president and rebuilding to get back on its feet.

  6. I believe of that four types of presidential typology that Skowronek described, President Obama falls into a few categories. First off, when Obama was elected for his first term, he fell into the constructive category. Because the U.S. involvement in the Middle East was under the Bush administration, Obama was already viewed as the source of the nation’s political failure and was expected to carry through with the situation, while trying to do what was in favor of the public to prevent further damaging his new image as a leading political figure. In Obama’s second term, I believe there are similarities between him and President Reagan in their ability to persuade. For example, President Reagan was able to pass his agenda in Congress despite his lack of public support because of his ability to bargain with elites. Similarly, when Obama presented his ObamaCare bill to Congress, much of the people were not supportive, but yet was able to pass the bill through Congress due to his authority and political ties to the elite.

  7. I agree with a few of my peers in feeling that Obama would fit best in Skowronek’s “politics of reconstruction”. I feel that Obama fits in this category because he, like FDR and others, came into office with a brand new plan referencing to the way things used to be. These presidents planed to go back to old values that had been lost in translation throughout the years, as Obama did. Obama came into office with the idea of changing the way the past Republican leaders have ran the government, and he did so by making many changes. These changes include passing a Health Care reform, ending the war in Iraq, and passing bills encouraging gay rights. Obama was also stuck to honor promises made in the past such as conflicts of war. Lastly, similar to FDR, Jackson, and Lincoln, Obama does so with the Senates approval.

  8. President Obama appears to fall under Skowronek’s “politics of reconstruction” typology. Based on this definition Obama inherited a situation that was in a state of some disarray. In his case it was an economic recession as well as two military conflicts in the Middle East. Obama falls under reconstruction because he has taken steps to change the low points from the Bush presidency including attempting to cut the federal deficit and withdrawing troops from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also attempting to leave his own mark on the presidency by establishing universal health care however he lacks a majority on his side in Congress and has been unable to find any form of bipartisan cooperation. While Obama may have cleaned up some of the problems of the previous regime, he has yet to take many progressive strides.

  9. I believe Obama’s presidency fits the model of the politics of preemption. Obama does not want to return to the “old values”, but push toward new ones, like universal healthcare. He has tried to make this happen, but has been thrown obstacle by the conservatives supporters and Supreme Court. Obama tried to use his charisma to make a preemptive move during his first 100 days, while he was still riding high on his promise for change, to push for universal healthcare. But after the bill was passed, conservatives and institutions have begun to rule it out.

  10. I feel that President Obama falls into the first cell of the typology, the politics of reconstruction. His first campaign was all about change. He focused on all of the things that the previous presidency did wrong. Mr. Obama came into the picture as a shining knight to lead the unhappy public out of their situation. Leading up the election, the American public was very unhappy with George Bush and the Congress of the time. The public was sick of the war that was killing military men and women almost daily. Barack Obama ran with the public unrest and he used the people’s anger as a foothold to the presidency. The American public was ready for change and Mr. Obama promised change. Therefore, he won the presidency.

  11. I believe that President Obama fits most closely with Showronek’s “politics of reconstruction” typology. Obama based his campaign, very successfully, on fixing the problems that many Americans felt were brought about by the Bush administration. Due to Bush’s very low approval rating at the time, Obama positioned himself opposite most everything Bush stood for and used the ideas that if a Republican took office the same policies would be enforced that were so unpopular during the Bush administration. In the same way, once he took office he was able to convince the public and legislators that certain risky plans were necessary to clean up the mess he felt he inherited from the Bush administration. In the beginning this plan was very successful for Obama and has since then began losing steam.

  12. I am definitely leaning towards Obama falling under the Neustadt Thesis. President Obama is a very eloquent speaker, his words are so carefully chosen. He came into his presidency making history, and has continued to speak in such a way that you just want to do what he suggests. I believe what assists with this, is his ability to give Americans a peek into his life outside of his presidency, his wife, his daughters, even the dog. I believe many Americans have developed a relationship with him based on his openness. The manner in which he was reelected was also pretty astounding, winning debates and completely annihilating his opponents with his words.

  13. I believe President Obama falls into the the category of politics of reconstruction because whether people believe he is a good president or not, he became president in a hard time for our country. With the enormous pressures placed on him and all the problems he came to face his entire time in office can be summed up as reconstruction. He has changed many things and evolved many policies whether the public agreed with it or not. With many republicans holding seats in the House and Senate, Obama is faced with opposition in everything he does much like former reconstruction presidents.

  14. I believe that Obama falls under the “politics of reconstruction” typology. He falls under this category because replaced a regime that is opposite what he believes in. During his initial campaign, Obama made it a point to stand against everything that the Bush administration stood for because people were unhappy with them. He has been doing his best to do the things that he wants to do while still honoring the commitments made by the previous government, even if he doesn’t agree with them.

  15. I believe (like most of the people above) that President Obama falls under Skowronek’s category of politics of reconstruction. Obama came into office being the clear opposite of the previous Bush administration and focused on rebuilding America, it’s economy and it’s welfare. The most applicable quote take from Skowronek that helps to support the fact that President Obama falls under this category is that the president in politics of reconstruction sector can be described as “set out to retrieve from a far distant, even mythic, past fundamental values that they claimed had been lost in the indulgences of the received order.” Obama came into office with a clear goal of putting through new social reforms, the biggest being new health care plans, all while rebuilding the American economy. This was most definitely a “far distant value” that had not been seen since the Clinton administration. Similarly, Obama also shares characteristics with the Neustadt Thesis and the “power to persuade.” Obama is one of the most charismatic, well spoken presidents off all time. Not only is he able to pass things through the legislature, he is also able to reassure the American people during times of distress. Although he clearly was unable to accomplish everything he promised in his first term, his second inaugural speech was one of passion and reassurance to the American people, allowing the people, no matter what party affiliation, to trust in the government once more.

  16. I believe president Obama fits into Skowrnoek’s “politics of reconstruction”. Obama, a democrat, preceded Bush, who is a republican. Bush had a low approval rating at the time, so Obama’s campaign was centered on “change”, which won the votes of many. Skowrnoek says that to fit under the politics of reconstruction, “the president heralds from the oppositions to the previously established regime.” Obama inherited problems, as every president does, when becoming president in 2008. The main issues were, the war in the Middle East, the large national deficit, and high unemployment. Obama has attempted to tackle some of these problems, such as slowly taking troops out of the Middle East, and creating more jobs. But he and congress have yet to come to an agreement on the national budget. He has also attempted to create a nation-wide healthcare system but it has not been a popular bill in congress, and he has yet to find a large group for bipartisan cooperation on this bill.

  17. Obama fits in Skowronek’s presidential typology very well. I believe this cause like skowroneks describes, Obama came to office being that a republican president before him. Obama had to start over. Obama coming to office though like skowroneks says the presidential leadership was affected by not knowing anybody and then that was affected by the decisions and the changes Obama made I believe Obama fits this typology too also because at the beginning of his presidency we were in a period of rebuild.

  18. I believe that Obama falls under the category of preemption politics. He has been faced with great opposition with this second term by the split of party control in the White House and in the senate. He has faced great opposition in law making I. e. obamacare amongst other issues. He has distanced himself from GW Bush and strove to become something totally different than he was. This facet leads me to categorize him where I do. Additionally Obama has relied on his innate charismatic personality and demeanor to try and push His legislation through. This was effective when the house and senate were both democratic in majority but now this gas failed to be as effective but it is his legislative tactic.

  19. I feel that President Obama best fits in with the Politics of Reconstruction. The Bush administration had such low ratings that Obama made sure to disagree with Bush. This caused the people to vote for him, because in retaliation of the Bush administration they viewed Obama as a new and better solution for the problems of the Nation. Obama also used words of hope, change, and equality, which the people had felt that the world had forgotten the meaning of these words and should be reminded for what they stand for. The people also thought that the Bush administration did a bad job finding the solutions to problems. For example sending troops to Iraq, polls were showing that the people hated the fact that we had troops in Iraq. So when Obama went on his campaign and into office one of his big goals was to get all the troops out of Iraq. This was caused by the bad decisions of the preceding administration, which is why Obama choose what he did.

  20. I believe that Obama falls under Neustadt’s idea of presidential power. Obama came into power in a time of economic hardship for all citizens, rich and poor alike. The fact that he promised change on the election of his first term caused everyone to look for the hope in his words. Obama is a very good public speaker and he shows that repeatedly. I believe the fact that not much has changed since his original election makes it amazing that he was reelected but I feel that the American people still believe that Obama might change things for the better. The fact that the economy naturally fluctuates and should be on the rise soon might make Obamas approval rating go up as well. Obama is a very persuasive and powerful speaker, and that is the reason he falls under Neustadt’s thesis, he can speak well and do quite a bit of persuading.

  21. I believe President Obama falls into Showronek’s reconstruction category. I actually believe many presidents assume this roll when they come into office. Everyone inherits issues when another president leaves their position, whether it be one or two terms. Obama in no way identifies with the Bush administration. He became responsible for the United States’ economic issues that began when Bush was in office. Obama now faces his own problems. For instance, Obama now has to deal with the tensions in Syria. He has also been proactive with healthcare reforms, etc. during his presidency. However, when he leaves office, someone else will come in and probably fall into the reconstruction category again. I personally feel every president reconstructs to a certain extent, especially when there is a party change. I do not necessarily think that reconstruction is a bad thing-I believe it is necessary.

  22. Obama’s leadership falls under “politics of preemption”. He was elected into a somewhat ‘resilient regime’ and has had to battle gridlock in order to attempt passing new policy, such as healthcare. During the first few months of his presidency, he continued to boast about his ideas of change and all of the great things he and his party would accomplish in a small amount of time; his ‘freedom of independence’ was not long lasting though once he was blocked by the old establishment.

  23. I feel like President Obama could be placed in two of the categories described. During his first time of election most people were looking for a drastic change in the way the country was heading with most people feeling as if we needed a completely fresh set of ideals to lead this country away from it’s ongoing course of action. So I would say that with Obama knowing this and him facing a D.C. in lines with Bush, he set out to reconstruct the way our government was handling things and in a few ways he managed to. Though going into his reelection I feel like he more so belongs in the category of preemption instead, as more and more people in the country are beginning to feel differently towards Obama and his leadership. With the public a lot closer to an even split between disagreement and agreement of the policies put forth and the lawmakers becoming hesitant to listen to his desires of change, he is finding it increasingly harder to accomplish his goals.

  24. Obama most closely fits under the politics of reconstruction. Coming into office during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is far from ideal. Throughout the election process, he separated himself from the current regime and boasted of the wave of change that would overtake the country if elected. Although placing Obama in a category with FDR and Lincoln is an entirely different battle, I assert that he most closely fits that category.

  25. President Obama fits mostly into Skowronek’s typology of “politics of preemption.” He came into office most infatuated with the leadership situations and wanting to express all of his new ideas that he had bragged so much about in his campaign. Entering into a “resilient regime”, Obama is now facing several issues that are totally different than those of President Bush or President Reagan’s such as the attempt of passing healthcare and even the issues being dealt in Syria. Obama had too many new ideas at one time, until it was shut down by the old establishment.

  26. I believe President Obama thinks he would fit into the politics of reconstruction, due to his platform on change and helping the middle class. I believe however he cannot truly fall into this category since he has failed to accomplish his goals, and has not helped the economic situation in America.

  27. I think that President Obama operates under the politics of articulation. The article states “These ‘orthodox-innovators’ operate in office both constrained by previous commitments and empowered by the presently vital coalition with which they are aligned.” Although he does not represent the party that was in office before him, he does represent a very strong political view that opposed his predecessor’s party. Through his skilled speech delivery and his ability to charm the public, President Obama has made it easier for the Democratic Party to express their position on certain issues to the public and influence the decisions made regarding legislation.

  28. Personally, I thought President Obama should be into Showronek’s reconstruction category. President Bush leave lots of questions which hard for next president to solve, like financial problem. And is the military actions’s necessity. So president Obama have to “rebuilt” the government, it means that those problem needs a great change. On the other hand, people also eager to have change. So In Showronek’s theory, it states the characteristic of the reconstruction, I thought it should be this type.

  29. I believe President Obama falls under “politics of reconstruction.” He definitely inherited a lot of problems and he has to rebuild our economy after the war we have been fighting in for the past twelve years. However, at the same time, he also falls under the “politics of preemption.” Now that it seems that what President Obama and his ideas from his campaign have seemingly failed, some of the people that voted for him 2008 are now seeing things in a different light. President Obama promised Americans that he would institute a lot of change in a short amount of time, only to find out that nothing happens relatively quickly when you are in the White House.

  30. I believe President Obama falls under the category of “politics of reconstruction” because of his contrast with President Bush. President Obama came into office looking to “Change” what had been put in place by the Bush Administration. President Obama sought health care reform and looked to create more jobs by bailing out large corporations. President Obama fits the type of “politics of reconstruction” because he wanted to move “Forward” to “…a far distant, even mythic, past fundamental values that they claimed had been lost in the indulgences of the received order.”

  31. I would describe Obama’s presidency as “politics of reconstruction” due to the fact that when he first entered office he came into an economically unstable environment and preceded to do a lot of the opposite things that Bush was doing. For example, taking the troops out of the middle east, creating Obama Care, etc. Now, with the Syrian issues, Congress won’t vote in favor of Obama’s want to bomb Syria. Just like Skowronek’s examples, Obama will not be able to get anything passed because the congress won’t agree with him on any of his ideas, which in the end leads to being seen as a failure still no matter what he tries to accomplish during his two terms.

  32. Obama most closely fits under the politics of reconstruction idea. He entered into office in the middle of a horrible recession, into a resilient regime. He was faced with the daunting task of pulling the nation from near rock bottom. He could also be placed under politics of preemption. He was elected by showing off all of his huge plans for the country, and when it came time to put them into effect, he found that it was more easily said, than done.

  33. I believe that Obama falls into the category of reconstruction. Whether you like Obama as a president or believe he has done a lot for this country, he had a lot of tough challenges to deal with coming into office. He has attempted to make radical changes such as ending the war in Iraq and proposing a plan that nationalizes health care in “Obamacare”. Part of the reason Obama is such a “changer” or why he appears to be is because so many Americans were dissatisfied with the later years of the Bush presidency and blame him for the economic crisis. Strategically, Obama wanted to appear to be as different as Bush because he knew the public would be behind him. He ran a campaign on revolution. In short, he had a lot to rebuild once he got into office and that’s why I believe the reconstruction category is most appropriate for President Obama.

  34. I feel that President Obama fits the typology of political reconstruction. His elected position was based on ideas far from affiliated with the previous terms. His terms have been spent based on removing old programs installed by past terms and building a new agenda for the nation. Granted, most of his decisions have cost the US allies and trade agreements in the long run, he is definitely in the “reconstruction” atmosphere.

  35. I believe President Obama fits the typology of political reconstruction. Obama came into office opposing what Bush and the other Republicans accomplished, and he was elected because of his promises of “change” and a stronger economy. He has tried many different approaches to current problems that are in the opposite direction of the previous regime.

  36. I feel that President Obama falls into the category of reconstruction & is skilled in his ability to persuade . When President Obama took office, he had some prior things to deal with along with his goals & plans. The US economy was & still is somewhat horrible . There are so many people living in poverty and so many people who are jobless . He also Dealt with our troops being in Iraq & Aafghanistan . Therefore, he basically had to run ye country based off of decisions that would help anything wrong in Bush’s Administration. However , President Obama has the will & skill to persuade . After many non-supporters , he was able to pass his ObamaCare Bill .

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