The President of the United States has been said to have the toughest job in the world. President Harry Truman said, “Being a president is like riding a tiger. One has to keep riding or be swallowed.”
According to the U.S. Constitution, the President is the head of the executive branch of the government. The President is Commander-in-Chief, and “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” he has the power to make treaties with other countries and to appoint public officials, such as ambassadors. The President is to give “from time to time” a State of the Union address to Congress. Since Constitutional times, the President’s duties have expanded to include: Chief of State, Chief Executive, Chief Diplomat, Chief Legislator, Chief of Party, and Chief Guardian of the Economy.
The President can authorize the use of U.S. troops but cannot declare war without the approval of Congress. He also cannot pay for a war without the approval of Congress.
Chief of State
The President is the head of the government. He represents the nation and serves as its most visible leader. The President has sometimes used that power to call for a national day of fasting and prayer.
The President nominates jurists for the federal bench and Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court justices interpret the Constitution, the President’s appointees can change the nation.
The President can negotiate treaties, but they must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. With the help of his advisers, the President sets the foreign policy for the nation.
The President can sign the legislation brought to him by Congress, or he can veto that legislation. Congress has the power to override a veto with a two-thirds vote. The President is responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress. The President can pardon someone charged with a federal crime, except in cases of impeachment.
Chief of Party
The President is the leader of his political party. George Washington advised us not to succumb to faction or party, but John Adams was a member of the Federalist party, and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison helped organize the Democratic-Republican party. Presidents have been party leaders ever since.
Chief Guardian of the Economy
One purpose of the government, according to the Constitution, is to “promote the general welfare.” That is interpreted today to mean that the President should make sure conditions are such that the economy prospers.
Some of the things a President may do on any given day: greet visitors to the White House, read reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, travel to a foreign country for a diplomatic meeting, inspect armed forces, make a speech before Congress, speak at a rally for a party nominee, meet with economic advisers about unemployment issues and award medals to veterans.
- The White House image by dwight9592 from Fotolia.com