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Defines the office of the Executive in the US, and the powers of the President who is charged with executing those duties. The comprehensive list of duties is here:

  • he is commander in chief, as a civilian, over the armed forces
  • he has the power to grant reprieves or pardons
  • he has the power to make treaties (presumably because it is easier for one central government to do it that 50 separate states)
  • he has the power to appoint Ambassadors, public figures, Supreme Court justices and other officers whose appointments derive from laws passed by future congresses
  • he must report to Congress every once in a while
  • he may receive foreign Ambassadors

And that’s it folks. Seriously. He is not the psychologist in chief. He is not the parent in chief. And he is certainly NOT the economist in chief. But we have gone so far off the rails that when we publicly celebrate and describe the American Presidency, we make up a whole bunch of stuff – because, you know, the President gets to use all kinds of super-cool powers to make the USA a totally cool awesome place to live.

A friend of mine was in DC and he pointed me to the exhibit at the Smithsonian on the American Presidency. The exhibit celebrates the 7 tasks of a President. Here is the list, compare it to mine above:

  1. Commander in Chief
  2. Chief Executive
  3. Chief Diplomat
  4. Ceremonial Head of State
    OK … so thusfar, those are 4 things that come right from Article II and which I cite above. And now here comes duty #5 …
  5. Manager of the Economy
    Hmm, where does it say that. Neither is it desirable nor permitted to have a czar in DC do this. Is it any wonder my intro students are totally confused about how the world works when they get into my class? What’s next?
  6. Party Leader
    You see, it says it right there in Article 2! Keep looking.
  7. National Leader
    I guess you could argue that this is implied. The buffoons sure don’t lead me though.

Read the rest of the site. The justification for the President’s “management” of the economy is that “it is politically popular.” Yep, that was exactly the justification built into the constitution for everything each of the members of the three branches did. In fact, in case you don’t recall your civics classes, the Constitution was a document meant to secure basic liberties even in the face of other things which might be politically popular or expedient.

2 Responses to “Article II of the Constitution”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    Well, yeah. But in fairness, that list was created before we had the great, all-knowing, and merciful OzBama. 😉

  2. jb says:

    And while I was there, visitors were encouraged to rank those supposed duties in terms of their perceived importance. Sorry to say of 600k plus who participated, “manager of the economy” ranked third. (thankfully commander in chief ranked above it).

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