The two presidencies thesis refers to
toward a broader understanding of presidential power (2001) find that bipartisan support for the president in foreign affairs declined dramatically after 1973.5 Clearly, an extensive body of analyses cast doubt on the two presidencies hypothesis. Yet there are reasons to believe the effect may still exist. Peterson (1994), for instance, offers a theoretical rationale for presidents' preeminence in foreign affairs. Prominent work in international relations similarly argues that domestic politics exert relatively little influence on the president in international matters (e.g., Gowa 1999).6 These studies are not, however, focused on whether presidents have more power in foreign versus domestic affairs. Nor do they explain the lack of evidence for the two presidencies in previous analyses. Another reason to believe the effect still exists is that a few studies demonstrate presidential politics differ between domestic and foreign policy, indicating presidential influence may differ as well. For example, Lewis (1997) shows that presidential speechmaking varies between the domains, with presidents less likely to use foreign policy speeches to implore voters to pressure Congress. Likewise, Marshall and Pacelle (2005) find that the share of congressional seats held by the president's party influences the number of annual executive orders on domestic policy but not on foreign policy. Rudalevige (2002) offers more direct evidence in his study of White House centralization of policy formulation. Yet Rudalevige acknowledges that his data exclude certain types of controversial foreign policy proposals because his primary purpose is not to assess presidential influence in foreign versus domestic affairs; in fact, he cautions that the analysis ``should not be read as a conclusive test of the `two presidencies' thesis'' (2002, 140). Finally, Yates and Whitford (1998) find that the Supreme Court is more likely to defer to presidents on foreign policy matters. Thus the search for the two presidencies has produced scores of direct tests that indicate the hypothesis is incorrect as well as, by comparison, a small amount of largely indirect evidence in its favor. Arguably for this reason, the conventional wisdom has become that the two presidencies thesis no longer characterizes American politics. Recently summarizing the state of affairs Fleisher et al. declared ``the demise of the two presidencies'' (2000, 3). At the same time, the fact that direct tests of the thesis have revolved around roll-call votes has not gone unnoticed by scholars.
A Reassessment of the Two Presidencies Thesis
Aaron wildavsky two presidencies thesis
An enduring and controversial debate centers on whether there exist ``two presidencies,'' that is, whether presidents exercise fundamentally greater influence over foreign than domestic affairs. This paper makes two contributions to understanding this issue and, by extension, presidential power more generally. First, we distill an institutional logic that both supports the two presidencies thesis and implies that Congress has incentives to delegate foreign policy powers to the president. Accordingly, the logic suggests that empirical analysis should incorporate these incentives. Our second contribution, then, is to test for the existence of two presidencies in a domain that Congress cannot delegate, budgetary appropriations, and a domain that explicitly incorporates delegation, agency creation. Consistent with expectations, we find presidents exercise considerably greater influence over foreign policy.
Rooster christopher bruce essay | The two presidencies thesis
In his 1966 article ``The Two Presidencies,'' Wildavsky provided quantitative evidence for this line of thinking, declaring in memorable language that the United States has one presidency for domestic matters along with a second, more powerful presidency for foreign affairs. The quantitative evidence established that between 1948 and 1964 Congress enacted 65% of presidents' foreign policy initiatives and only 40% of domestic ones. Wildavsky further assessed that ``in the realm of foreign policy, there has not been a single major issue on which presidents, when they were serious and determined, have failed'' (1966, 7). Clearly, the same could not be said for domestic policy. Wildavsky's article ushered in a veritable industry of systematic tests of whether presidents fare better on roll-call votes and other legislative activities in foreign versus domestic policy. These subsequent studies, however, provided scant support for the two presidencies thesis. As a result, Wildavsky