Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

This essay will aim to lay out how most presidencies in the
United States do end in a varying degree of failure. The president of the
United States is the head of the executive branch of government and is elected
by the Electoral College to serve a term of four years, with the choice to
stand for re-election for a further four. The failure of presidents can be down
to a number of reasons which will be explored in the essay. These reasons are
more often than not choices taken by presidents that lead to failure for outgoing
presidents. Also considered to counteract the wholly prevailing view that
presidencies end in failure will be the evidence of presidencies where failure
did not grip them towards the end of their premiership. In the first section of
the essay the failing presidencies of Richard Nixon and George W Bush will be
looked at as well as the scandal ending presidency of Bill Clinton. The greater
focus being on the dramatic failed ending presidency of Richard Nixon as a
result of the Watergate scandal. In the second section of the essay the
contrasting view that not all presidencies end in failure will be looked at
examining presidencies that did not end in failure such as the Obama presidency
and the Reagan Presidency.

The clearest example of presidencies ending in failure is
the presidency of Richard Nixon. The Watergate scandal of 1974 led ultimately to
the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The break in to the democratic
national convention headquarters, Watergate, in Washington D.C. was backed by
the Nixon administration and then subsequently covered up. (Scandal, 2017) The
involvement of the Nixon administration in Watergate was uncovered as a result
of the link between the cash found on the burglars and a slush fund used by Nixon’s
campaign to get re-elected. The result of such involvement led to Nixon’s administration
being investigated by the FBI and starting of an impeachment process by the
senate. Within a small amount of time it was very clear that Nixon was going to
be impeached. The Republican leaders in Congress Scott and Rhodes of the Senate
and the House and accompanying senior member Barry Goldwater arrived to tell
Nixon ‘there were not more than fifteen votes left in his support in the
Senate.’ (White, 1975). The consequences of such a loss of trust by Congress
and the American public led to Nixon concluding himself that the only way for
him to get out was to resign as president and let his Vice President Gerald
Ford take over before he was impeached. The sheer enormity of the scandal
itself is blamed by some for Ford’s failure to get elected to serve a full term,
a whole two years after Watergate in the 1976 presidential election (Shane,
2006). The ending failure of Nixon was his involvement in Watergate. Nixon was
elected in a landslide in 1972 on a grant of public support and optimism to
complete his agenda in office. The resulting failure of his administration to
not complete his full second were completely self-inflicted highlighting how
all presidencies have the potentially to end in catastrophic failure.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

The other major presidency that ended in catastrophic failure
was that of George W. Bush. After winning the presidency in the 2000 election
in the tightest election of a generation Bush hoped to build on the new hope of
technological and economic advancement going into the 21st century.  The disastrous events of September 11th
did not shake Bush’s resolve, and in the eyes of the American people Bush was
extremely popular with a 90% approval rating post 9/11 and an average 63%
approval rating throughout his first term(Gallup, 2017). The post 9/11
solidarity, the popular ‘Bush’ tax cuts and the expansions of Medicare passed
by Bush resulted in his re-election in 2004 with an increased share of the vote
and increased number of Electoral College votes. However, first term success
did not transfer into Bush’s second term and the second term was rather more calamitous
and ultimately ended in failure like Nixon. As Barbara Kellerman argues “He
Bush has been a quite unlucky president” (Kellerman, 2009). Whether unlucky
or not George W. Bush’s term in office ended in dismal failure. The perceived
lack of help for Americans post hurricane Katrina, the fallout from the Iraq
War and the dismal financial crisis all were on Bush’s watch. These three
events on their own could be deemed enough to topple a president. These individual
catastrophes meant the legacy Bush was derided not only by the democrats and a
majority of the American people but fellow republicans as well. Bush’s record in
his second term show how presidencies are doomed to failure even with perceived
success early on. The impact of his presidency is further damned by republicans
because of his failed second term which arguably led to the landslide election
victory of Barack Obama in 2008.

A further example of Presidency that started off with hope
but ended in self-inflicted failure is the presidency of Bill Clinton. With the
same attributes of the presidency of Nixon (twice elected, popular figure with
public support) Bill Clinton still managed to end his presidency with great
controversy. The scandal towards the end of his presidency in 1998 was a sexual
harassment scandal whereby Clinton was accused by Paula Jones of sexual
harassment while he was governor of Arkansas and of having sexual relation with
a white house intern Monica Lewinsky. The lies of Clinton in denying his
relation with Lewinsky (YouTube, 2017) led to the impeachment process being started
on two counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. Although later
acquitted the scandal itself shook the role of the presidency to the core. The
abuse of power tainted the perceived high esteem role of the presidency in the
eyes of the American public. The resulting fallout heightened that Clintons 8
year term was permanently damaged through scandal exactly like Nixon over 30
years prior. The consequences of Clintons end failure to end his presidency
scandal free is blamed for the resulting election loss of his vice president of
8 years Al Gore in the subsequent 2000 election. ‘Bill Clinton’s moral
failings’ are blamed in the referred to book as a central reason for Gore’s
failure as (Johnston, Hagen and Jamieson, 2006) the scandal undermined any
perceived previous success that the administration had on economic management.
This failure at the end of the Clinton presidency tainted all of his previous
successes to show how presidencies can often end in failure when none such
chances seem to be possible.

However, the ending of presidencies does not always end in a
perceived nature of failure. The nature of presidencies ending in failure has
been shown to be more often than not self-inflicted rather than geo-political events
the presidents cannot halt. The presidency of Barack Obama (2009-2017) can be
viewed as a presidency that did not end in controversial failure. Moreover,
Obama ended his presidency with a 60% approval rating. (BBC News, 2017) This
high approval rating was higher than the sub 50% that dogged most of Obama’s
presidency due to his perceived polarisation. However, the economic success
lauded on the back of his policies towards the end of his administrations 8
years in office allowed Obama to turn around his ratings with the American
public. This is the polar opposite to President Clinton and Nixon that often
had high approval ratings during their presidency but ended them in a wave of
scandal. The contrasting nature to which Obama ended his term in office with
Clinton and Nixon is vast, the lack of a ‘scandal president’ leaving office
shows how the barrier is not set to high rather than previous presidents have
fallen far below due to their own misdemeanants. Obama’s virtuous
acknowledgement of the presidency and its office and his gratitude even when
faced with handing over the presidency to a polar opposite republican in Donald
Trump show how not all presidents do take it on themselves to end in failure.

Additionally, another example of a presidency that did not
end in calamitous failure is that of Ronald Reagan. Elected in 1980 on a landslide
to turnaround the ‘lost’ decade of the 1970’s, Reagan carried through the successes
in his first term into his second unlike his past Republican predecessors George
W. Bush and Richard Nixon. A feature of Regan’s first term were not dissimilar to
Bush, with familiar popular conservative policies through tax cuts, minimal
government intervention and a popular expansion of the military with a ‘strength
through peace’ initiative pursued. As a result of such policies Reagan was a
popular president seeking re-election because of the back drop of falling
unemployment and rising economic growth through the ‘Reaganomics’ policies
pursued by his administration. The re-election of Ronald Reagan in 1984 was
seen as inevitable and on the ‘It’s morning again in America’ platform slogan Reagan
secured and increased share of the vote and Electoral College vote. (These two traits
were exactly like the presidencies of George W. Bush and Richard Nixon). The difference
of Reagan compared to Bush and Nixon was his continued strength throughout his second
ter. The ending of the cold war and continuation of economic success allowed Reagan
to end his presidency on a high and contrasting to his republican predecessors
Ford and Nixon ending his prudency on an approval rating high much alike Obama.
The biggest perceived endorsement of Reagans 8 year term in office was the
election of his vice president George H.W. 
Bush in another landslide victory for the republicans and a continuation
of the conservative agenda pursued by Reagan. This election victory for George
H.W Bush is one of the clearest indications that Americans viewed Reagan’s presidency
and policies successful as they chose to elect his deputy as president to continue
Reagan style policies for another 4 years.

To conclude, it’s clear that more often than not presidencies
are doomed to fail. The clear examples shown of presidencies starting off well (Nixon’s
and Bush’s) and ending in humiliating failure highlight how the challenges of
office are often to great a burden for presidents to end their terms on a high.
The continuation of this theme of presidents starting off well and with the support
of the people but ultimately ending in scandal or crisis is the central reason
as to why presidencies mainly end in failure. The nature of such failure is
that circumstances often mean that the President’s policies are not to blame.
However, these circumstances do not overtake the countervailing view that
presidencies end in failure. The individual mistakes of presidents responding
to crises or scandal are more often than not the reasons for failure and any deemed
successful presidents are those that avoid such crisis or scandal. These
presidents are few and far between and outnumbered by those that end in failure.








Post Author: admin


I'm Anna!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out