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American Presidency There are a number of different situations presidents face upon taking office that afford him the ability to exercise more or less power All presidents will encounter different cycles during their stay in office these cycles may come in a variety of forms foreign policy shifts from isolationism to international involvement the business cycle of economic growth followed by recession the mood swing of public confidence in government followed by a retreat into private interests and cynicism These cycles for the most part are beyond the control of the president but do however have an impact on presidential power In short there are times when conditions afford presidents considerable leverage and power And there are also times when presidents are not afforded much power In times of change and social disruption leadership skills will be different than in times of normality For example in the years following the Vietnam Conflict and Watergate Scandal the public turned against the government and presidential power They were very skeptical and questioned everything the government did Due to this existing condition President Ford and President Carter had limited ability to exercise presidential power In contrast FDR benefited from a level of opportunity that was unusually high He came into power when there was a strong demand for public power and when Congress was willing to grant power to the president Thus for a while FDR was able to exercise a good amount of power Skill is also an important aspect but skill alone is never enough For even the most skilled of individuals are faced with difficult situations Skill can be used to measure the extent to which a president takes advantage of or is buried by circumstances President Regan spoke of a window of opportunity a means of talking about how an open or closed situation was the basis for exercising leadership When the window is closed that is the opposite party controls Congress during a
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