36 Putting It Together


The president is the dynamic center of the political system, yet to perhaps a surprising degree, the executive branch is dependent on the other two branches, the federal bureaucracy, as well as state and local governments for its success.

Aside from formal powers listed in the Constitution, the president is an agenda setter, the nation’s chief lobbyist. His ability to lead Congress depends on its party composition and ideological makeup. As the chief executive, the president gets things done through the appointment powers, executive orders, and war powers. The president seeks power and public approval through speeches and by heeding public response to polls.

Presidents interact with the media through press conferences, the press secretary, the Office of Communications, manipulation by inundation, and end runs around White House reporters. The White House press corps, in search of dramatic stories, is engaged in ongoing conflict and cooperation with the White House.

President Obama encountered several problems with the media that he tried to resolve through new technologies and appearing in many media venues. It can be difficult for presidents to balance their policy interests with the media’s criteria of news and expectations of dramatic action and quick results.


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