The Obama and Bush administrations used various techniques to ensure that their respective agendas and pledges to the people of the United States were carried out. Although many people assume that Congress, the legislative arm of government, has the most significant authority in the country, the president, the executive branch of government, also has enormous power based on the principles established in the United States Constitution. Ex-presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used similar techniques to maintain presidential discretion and prerogative legitimacy, which Congress and other political forces have attempted to disregard or weaken in the last several years (Frontline, 2012). Since the two regimes came to power based on vastly different manifestos and promise to the people, each administration needed to follow a distinct strategy to guarantee a genuine change that the people could feel. There were constitutional and presidential executive powers in play under both regimes. Each president had to ensure they used their powers within the parameters of the constitution during their respective terms in office.
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The president’s capacity to formulate official decisions using judgment is their presidential discretion or executive discretion. Both the Bush and Obama administrations, in their different ways, aided the president by administering as much authority as possible to enable their respective presidents to carry out their presidential discretionary powers. Because of the devastating terrorist incident on September 11, 2001, the Bush administration’s primary purpose was to give Bush as much authority as possible (Frontline, 2012). They collected the endorsement and backing of the Justice Department, made signing statements, and published legal opinions. Their primary focus was on using the constitution to strengthen Bush’s authority, which supported the president’s decision-making process. Even though some in Obama’s administration, such as Joe Biden, were opposed to his goal of health care reform because of their previous experiences, politicians in his administration, such as Rahm Emanuel, were prepared to attempt other approaches to carry out the plan. By delegating as much authority and support as possible to Obama, he was expected to use presidential judgment. Both the Bush and Obama administrations seem to support the aims of their respective presidents.
Presidential discretion, such as that conferred on the President by Article II of the United States Constitution, is most visible in the area of foreign affairs. This is where the president serves as commander in chief of all military forces and has the authority to enter into treaties with other countries, among other responsibilities. If Congress is deafeningly quiet on a particular topic, that is, if Congress has not approved specific legislation or resolution addressing that issue, the president has extensive authority to act on the matter. As a matter of foreign policy, this system is especially significant during war or other military action, when decisions must be taken fast in response to rapidly changing conditions.
When the president believes that he must act (as in the hostage crisis in Iran or the hostage crisis in Lebanon), he will use his prerogative power. However, if the action is made public (as is required for obtaining congressional authorization), it will cause either a domestic or an international crisis (or both) for the president, which will harm his political standing. When a president thinks he has no option but to act, he will do so even if it means going against legislative or popular opinion. He may even go so far as to behave in violation of the Law.
As the head of the executive branch, the president is endowed with a wide range of authorities and rights, all of which are codified in the United States Constitution. This indicates that the president (Bush and Obama) is assured of having these powers under all circumstances unless stated otherwise in the constitution. This set of powers conferred by the supremacy of the constitution is referred to as presidential prerogatives. The strategies of the Bush administration dealing with presidential prerogative are applied more openly than those of the Obama administration in this area. Both administrations took advantage of and used the powers granted to them by the constitution in their respective political campaigns.
Cheney’s Law was one example of how Bush’s government publicly referred to the constitution in debates and conversations, such as when discussing how they were permitted to spy on telephone calls in order to collect information against adversaries. However, even though it is illegal to eavesdrop on phone conversations in our country, President Obama and his administration have the constitutional authority to do so. The administration of President George W. Bush, notably David Addington, prepared to sign statements to defend Bush’s presidential prerogative in addition. Obama utilized every prerogative authority he had available. Even if he did not get the votes he needed, Obama used his position to continue to push for his package.
Even though their administration had to deal with many difficulties, both Bush and Obama battled hard to protect their president’s discretion and prerogative. Presidents Bush and Obama’s administrations have been able to carry out the task, regardless of whether Congress, an opposing political party or other forces have disrupted or delayed it. George W. Bush and Barack Obama had robust support structures in place while they were presidents, as shown above.
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Frontline. (2012). Introduction | Obama’s deal | FRONTLINE | PBS. Pbs.org. Web.