The Rhetorical and Administrative Presidencies

Sidney M. Milkis
Content Type
Journal Article
Critical Review
Issue Number
Publication Date
January 2007
Critical Review Foundation
The modern presidency emerged not from an effort to escape constitutional propriety, as Tulis argues, but, rather, to emancipate presidents from the localized political parties of the nineteenth century, which had come to be viewed as sites of provincial and corrupt forms of popular rule. As the troubled tenure of George W. Bush suggests, contemporary presidents are torn between the public expectation that they stand apart from party politics and act as the chief executive of the administrative state; and their role as party leaders, which links them to political allies in Congress and loyalists in the electorate. In its contribution to the development of a “new” national programmatic party system, the Bush administration reveals the potential for a novel, disturbing meld of party and administration, in which presidents seek to exploit the powers of the modern executive office for partisan gain.