Presidential Powers

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Presidential Powers

In every government there is a ceremonial head of the government who is the
symbol of all the people in the nation. As Howard Taft put it, "The
personal embodiment and representative of their dignity and majesty" (McClenaghan,
pg. 316). That person is the Chief of State or more commonly known as the

President. One of the main factors that cause the presidents to be viewed as a
symbol of the American community is the president's ceremonial duties which are
named in the Constitution. The Constitution states several ceremonial duties
that the presidents are "obliged" to perform. They are required to
take an oath of office, periodically inform Congress of the State of Union,
negotiate with foreign powers, and receive "Ambassadors and other Public

Ministers". "These Constitutional ceremonial duties supported the
assumption of the Chief of State role by George Washington and his successors
because they made the president appear as the leader of the entire
nation"(The Presidents A-Z, Pg. 68). Castro 2 Both, the Oath of Office
ceremony, the Inauguration, and the State of Union address physically place the

President out in front of other government officials. Also, the President's duty
to receive Ambassadors shows that foreign governments view and regard the
president as the official representative of the United States, and since the
rest of the world sees our president as being the Chief of State, then the
"domestic responsibilities of the Chief of State could not be assumed more
gracefully than anyone but the President" (The Presidents A-Z, pg. 69). In
the 18th century, when the Framers designed the U.S. president's job, monarchy
was the style of government throughout most of the world. But, since they wanted
to avoid any suggestion of a monarchy, the Framers of the constitution made the

Chief of State the Chief Executive as well. They called this person the

President. But, like monarchs, the U.S. Presidents are the living symbol of the
nation. They symbolize the country's history, liberty and strength. The

President can appoint ceremonial representatives, but while they are still in
office they cannot escape their role as Chief of State. At every moment they
represent the United States at home and overseas. Castro 3 When the President,
or shall I say "the Chief of state, is not occupied with functions that
pertain to government he would attend and participate in such as lighting the
national Christmas tree, deliver a patriotic address during the Fourth of July,
lay a wreath on the graves of soldiers that died for their country (such as the

Tomb of the Unknowns) on Memorial day, lead us special holidays (such as

Thanksgiving, bless fund raising drives, and on numerous occasions in the past
he would throw the first ball to open the baseball season in the Spring. Many of
these functions mean something and are significant especially when the President
is involved. "But consequently, the duties of the Chief of State are seldom
described as a power and are sometimes denounced as a waste of the President's
time." (The Presidency, Pg. 69) Although the President's right to dedicate
a monument or congratulate an astronaut may mean little, The symbolism that the
action portrays clearly "enhances presidential authority, legitimizes and
maximizes other presidential powers, and secures his position as Chief of

State." (The Presidency, Pg. 69) " "As political scientist

Clinton Castro 4 Rossiter explained "No president can fail to realize that
all his powers are invigorated, indeed are given a new dimension of authority,
because he is the symbol of our sovereignty, continuity, and grandeur." The
presidency is therefore elevated above other offices and institutions not just
by its legal authority, but also by its symbolic and historic
mystique."" (The Presidency, Pg.69) The position of the President as
the Chief of State is defined by the Constitutional provisions which are the
source of some of the most important power the President can use. The parts
covered by these provisions are classified as Military, Judicial, and

Diplomatic. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, provides for the power as
"Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the

Militia of the several states, when called into actual Service of the United

States". (U.S. Constitution) The position of the Commander in Chief makes
the President the highest Military officer in the United States, with control
over the entire Military establishment. Although, that does not mean that he is
always doing something involving Military or Naval actions every minute. He
leaves the smaller jobs up to the generals Castro 5 of the Army

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