Energy in the executive : the case for the strong presidency



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front endpapers: Bully pulpit--T.R.--Speeches. What makes a strong presidency. Personnel--Loyalty vs. ability; 5200 opponents. Reagan--weak on ethics. Underlinings/notes: Reagan demonstrated that the strong presidency is necessary to effect ends sought by most conservatives. Conservative intellectuals are primarily interested in US political history since the 1930s. Conservatives should embrace a strong executive--for the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton--energy in the executive is a leading characteristic of good government. Purpose of book is to recover/restate the enduring case for energy in the executive--strong presidency--written for conservatives serious about politics/governing. Liberals--their kind of strong President, likely a disaster. Mondale personified liberal belief that the US President should insinuate himself into all aspects of national life, in domestic issues, nation should be presidential. Parliamentary systems allow for less vigor and efficiency in execution of foreign affairs than ours does. Richard E. Neustadt--"Presidential Power." Constitution impowers President. Book, a correction to Neustadt. Draws on analysis of Joseph M. Bessette of Claremont McKenna College. Hedrick Smith's "Power Game" argues that all government power is alike--something to be grabbed by those able to do so--nothing distinctive about presidential power. Federalist Papers--energy. 1787--Articles of Confederation did not provide for an executive. Presidency must be source of energy in government. Divided government. President/judicial selection. 1000 federal judges. Strong presidency --accepts necessity of governing/importance of public life. Over past century, political world changed in ways today's presidency cannot ignore. Professional political class (academics, writers, lobbyists and news media). Presidents will speak to the people. President Theodore Roosevelt--Hepburn Act. Bully pulpit--first-rate, smashing. Liberal Presidents. Wilson saw himself as destined for greatness--in 1912 only presidential candidate to defeat two former presidents--Theodore Roosevelt and incumbent William Howard Taft. Modern tendency of Presidents to "dumb" down speeches can be traced to Wilson. When Presidents give speeches that are not their own, they divest themselves of the power the Constitution gives them. 1990 Budget agreement--biggest mistake of the Bush presidency. Bob Woodward "The Commanders." Executive Office of the President--1,889 employees--total of presidential personnel--5,000. Iran-contra shows what can happen when the President is not the source of energy. Justice--more than 70,000 employees, 6 billion dollars. Take Care Clause. President immediate responsibility for executive ethics. Nixon presidency wrote new chapter in history of executive-branch malfeasance. Had Reagan exerted leadership, would have prevented some of the ethics problems his administration later encountered. Meece--inattentive to ethics rules, insensitive to appearances. Future Presidents should rethink Reagan's policy--no official should resign unless indicted. Better course--heads of departments under independent counsel investigation must take a leave of absence. David Stockman. Iran-contra. President created circumstances which allowed the National Security Council to conduct Iran-contra activities. Root problem of Iran-contra not "rogue government" but absence of the kind of government a strong President can provide. George Shultz, Secretary of State, and Casper Weinberger, Sec. of Defense--added to weakness of Reagan's national security by distancing themselves from the Iran initiative. As a result of vacancies/creation of additional judgeships, a judge is nominated/appointed every eight days. Scalia selection began in 1985. Reynolds assembled team of 20 Justice Dept. officials. Eastland reviewed Scalia. Team gave equal priority to Bork and Scalia. After interviewing both, Reagan chose Scalia. Scalia selection sharp contrast to Ginsburg choice a year later. White House Counsel's Office/FBI did not do the job. 1981 Reagan gave away more than necessary with selection of Sandra Day O'Connor. Deck stacked against Bork. Knowing hearings would be televised, Senate Judiciary Committee placed Bork's seat at an angle unfavorable for TV. When party opposite President controls Senate, confirmation of a nominee cannot be assumed. President must be willing to personally enter the battle. Reagan did not respond to Kennedy's first-day broadside against Bork. 1990 Congress created 85 new judgeships; George Bush nominated/appointed judges once every seven days. During two terms, Reagan appointed 368 lower court judges, 78 to court of appeals, 290 to district courts. Reagan, Bush 3/4 of lower court judges. Since 1948 ABA via Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary has provided its views to Senate Judiciary Committee. Reagan first President to bring judicial candidates to Washington for extensive interviewing. Reagan's selection process designed to find individuals who shared the President's judicial philosophy. Personnel is policy. New ethics era. Strong President will work to prevent ethics problems--preserve administration's political strength.


Eastland, Terry, “Energy in the executive : the case for the strong presidency,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed November 29, 2022,



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Energy in the executive : the case for the strong presidency


Eastland, Terry


Program air date: September 6, 1992.


Every four years the race for the presidency absorbs the nation's attention. But what does it take for a President to actually govern - especially to govern well? Terry Eastland, the noted political writer who studied the presidency up close during his service in President Reagan's administration, challenges the widely held view of the presidency as an office where canny personal skills take precedence over the knowledgeable and proper use of constitutional power. In this deeply informed, unconventional, and persuasive interpretation of the nation's highest office, Eastland makes a timely case for the strong presidency, not one based on charisma or the "bully pulpit," but instead on the proper exercise of the constitutional expectations of the office, thus recovering and restating for our time the wisdom of the American founders - that "energy in the executive" is essential to good government. Eastland examines the presidency in its work with Congress, through the executive brand, and in the courts. Analyzing a wide variety of governing episodes from the Reagan and Bush years - tax reform, Iran-Contra, civil rights, Saddam Hussein, the infamous Bush "budget summit," the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas - Eastland shows just what a strong presidency is, and what it is not. Focusing on the selective use of presidential rhetoric in seeking legislation, the responsibility a President has for pressing policies into the day-to-day administration of the government, and the jurisprudential legacy a President can build through well-considered judicial appointments, Eastland maintains that the strong presidency is possible only when the tools of governance are properly understood and energetically used. Eastland points the way for a new generation of politicians and government officials, arguing that the key to effective government - conservative or liberal - is understanding and carrying out the executive role in accordance with its constitutional design. Energy in the Executive is that rare political book which offers fresh insights into the much-discussed subject of governing - which is, after all, what Presidents are elected to do.


"Presidents--United States."
"Executive power--United States."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Free Press
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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