Trump Isn’t the First Presidential Power Grabber

American Chief Executives Have Always Tried to Act as They Wish. But Has the Practice Gone Too Far?

King George III imposed taxation on the American colonies without representation. Franklin D. Roosevelt unilaterally exiled Japanese Americans to internment camps. Barack Obama declared his intent to bypass a perpetually gridlocked Congress by exercising executive power: “I have a phone and I have a pen.”

Since the earliest days of the United States, America’s commanders-in-chief have sought to increase their power to act as they pleased—despite the objections of Congress, the rulings of courts, or the wishes of the public. But now, under President Donald Trump, that long-simmering trend is reaching …

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Why Donald Trump Will Hate the Presidency

The Tycoon in the White House Doesn’t Understand the Difference Between Strength and Power

Donald Trump entered politics as a self-proclaimed “strong leader.” He castigated his supposedly tepid predecessor for lacking necessary strength. Trump, by contrast, would sweep away the establishment and remake America. …

Lady Bird Johnson Wielded Power With a Delicate Touch

LBJ’s First Lady Was a Trailblazer Who Flew Under the Radar

“Somebody else can have Madison Avenue,” Lyndon Johnson once said. “I’ll take Bird”—that is, his wife, Claudia Alta Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson. (She got her elegant nickname as a toddler, …

George Washington’s Deep Self-Doubt

The First President Was Indispensable to Our Early Democracy, Precisely Because He Didn’t See Himself as Indispensable

Revolutions tend to get hijacked, going from being about the people to being about the triumphant revolutionary leaders. And so the French Revolution begat Napoleon, and the Russian Revolution begat …

The President’s Coming to Town on Your Dime

We’re Well-Aware That Obama Brings Terrible Traffic to the Southland, But Do We Know How Much His Visits Cost—and Who Pays For Them?

The typical five-hour flight from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles costs anywhere from $300 to $500. This weekend, President Obama will be making that trip to deliver a commencement speech …

Are U.S. Presidents Lame?

Untangling Whether the White House Has Too Much Power—Or Too Little

It’s routinely called the most powerful job in the world, but the U.S. presidency can seem astonishingly impotent. Ideas proposed in the State of the Union go nowhere once they …