Use Of Presidency In Modern Politics

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Billy Deichmeister

Presidency in Modern Politics

Memo #1


It has come to the attention of the nation and countries all over the world that the presidential administration has implemented and used drones strikes as a measure to counter terrorism and protect our nation. While this may be a tool important that the military utilizes for national security, the president should act cautiously going forward as this use of prerogative power could become dangerous as more Americans become affected. Presidential powers have changed over time and will continue to increase as past precedents have allowed more inherent powers. Drone attacks in Pakistan have been ongoing since 2004 with George W. Bush accelerating these strikes towards the end of his second term. During the Obama administration there have been more than 300 drone strikes. This would indicate that Obama is utilizing this method of counter-terrorism and will continue to even after recent controversies. While this has not been a prevalent news issue prior to the Obama administration, with more unintended civilian deaths and American citizens as targets, the president is now under more heat for these political decisions.

Pious argues that construing the Constitution is a political act that indicates use of prerogative powers and is ultimately a sign of weakness of the president. Prerogative powers as we have seen with Bush shows weakness because they are making sole decisions without working with other branches of government. This is dangerous because it gives the president all the more power to make decisions that impact the country, all on his own. The framers of the Constitution believed that “it will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large” (Pious, 68). This statement directly relates to how the powers of the president should be limited especially in times of war and foreign relations. The Bush administration did not do this and took a loose interpretation of the Constitution to construe powers that were not expressed or implied. One cannot solely blame Obama for his uses of presidential power as they have become precedent from the previous administration. However, Obama is taking advantage of these powers which will continue to change the role that the president takes in world affairs. Pfiffner and especially Pious would argue that the president should not have the authority to make decisions on drone strikes as these are inherent powers created by past presidents.

Going even further there has been recent criticism about the president’s use of drone strikes inside the United States against potential threats. Attorney General Eric Holder recently commented on this use of legal force saying that a drone strike against an American citizen within the borders of the United States is legal and justifiable in “extraordinary circumstances” comparable to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (“Drone”). This is where president Obama needs to weigh the options of national security and the image that he portrays to the country and the world. While it is unlikely that the president will use drones against American citizens, just talking about it makes it possibly and all the more dangerous in terms of presidential power.

Former Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely said that Obama’s past condemnation of President George W. Bush’s stance on waterboarding and aggressive interrogation is “hypocritical”, given that the president has now approved the assassination of Americans (“Drone”). This is an interesting point that illustrates that the president’s use of prerogative powers