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Last updated 22 Mar 2021
An Imperilled Presidency is the contrasting theory to that of an Imperial Presidency put forward by Schlesinger. The basis of the theory is that the President does not have enough power to be effective in the role. This is in direct contrast to the theory of an Imperial Presidency.
The Ford administration is the example of an imperilled presidency. The main argument that a Presidency is imperilled is quite simply that the federal bureaucracy has too big to manage effectively. Ford stated 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.
Some have argued that the increase in executive controls have allowed the Presidency to become Imperilled. Such measures include:
- Creation of the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office
- Passage of the Case Act 1972, mandating the President to declare all executive agreements
- War Powers Resolution 1973 that restricted the commitment of armed personnel in combat situations
- Impoundment Control Act 1974 preventing the President from impounding appropriations that didn’t fit with their own agenda
- Congressional assertiveness on ground of impeachment.