Imperilled presidency

The theory of the Imperilled Presidency was created by former President of the United States Gerald Ford in contrast to Schlesinger's theory of the Imperial Presidency. The theory suggests that rather than being too powerful, the President does not have enough power to be effective.

Arguments for the Imperiled Presidency

After the Watergate affair of the 1970s, people in the United States stopped trusting their Presidents. This lack of public support led to a decline in Presidential power, leading to the Imperilled Presidency.

The same thing happened again under President Ronald Reagan after the Iran-Contra scandal, and could be said to have happened to President George W. Bush in the wake of the Iraq War

The growth in the size of the bureaucracy surrounding the President since the New Deal of the 1920s has made the executive more difficult to control. Ford argued that

[A] principal weakness in the presidency is the inability of the White House to maintain control over the large federal bureaucracy. There is nothing more frustrating for a President than to issue an order to a Cabinet officer, and then find that, when the order gets out in the field, it is totally mutilated.

Since the passing of the War Powers Act in 1973, Presidents have had less control over where they can fight a war. Although technically the President is Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, this act seriously limited his control over foreign policy, where the President always had the most power.

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