In The Semi-Sovereign Presidency, Capitol Hill insider Charles Tiefer shows how George Bush used the executive office to circumvent Congress, thwart official Washington, and confound the public will. Even Bush partisans may be surprised to discover the president's unprecedented use of executive signing statements to modify or, in effect, abrogate acts of Congress—even popular, bipartisan efforts like the 1991 Civil Rights Act; his commissioning of the "Quayle Council" to derail regulatory legislation such as the Clean Air Act of 1990; and his catapulting of the National Security Council into foreign policy prominence outstripping that of the Departments of Defense and State. As Tiefer details for the first time here, "Iraqgate," the hidden courtship of Saddam Hussein prior to the Gulf War, is perhaps the most dramatic example of Bush's executive fiat—a relationship conducted by way of Bush National Security Directives and similarly obscured from the public eye. Bush chose an essentially negative approach to governing partly because he was unwilling to engage Congress on matters of principle head to head and was equally unwilling to make his principles public—addressing himself to the nation as his predecessor had so effectively done. But, as Tiefer persuasively argues, it was Bush's belief in the sovereignty of executive power—an almost monarchical conception of the presidency—that was his primary modus operandi and ultimately his downfall. Bush and his approach to power are interesting not just to students and scholars of the presidency but to all citizens concerned about the country and its leadership.
Table of Contents
Forthcoming Titles -- Preface -- An Overview of the Bush Presidency's Strategy -- From 1789 to 1988: President and Law Until the Bush Administration -- Striking Down or Revising Laws: Signing Statements in the Bush Presidency -- The Quayle Council: "No Fingerprints" on Regulation -- National Security Directives and the Cover-up of the Courtship of Saddam Hussein -- The Persian Gulf War Authorization -- Conclusion: Temporary Respite
Charles Tiefer is acting general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives and author of the authoritative reference work Congressional Practice and Procedure.