The Administrative Presidency, Unilateral Power, and the Unitary Executive Theory


Richard Waterman is a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of The Changing American Presidency and coauthor or co-editor of The Image as Everything Presidency and Presidential Leadership: The Vortex of Power.


This essay examines a major change that has occurred in recent years with regard to the relationship between the president and the bureaucracy. It is a change that relies on a greater use of the president's unilateral powers to influence the bureaucracy. It is based on a theory of presidential power that is striking in its scope and implications: the unitary executive theory. In many respects, the theory fundamentally changes the nature of presidential–bureaucratic relations, yet it has received scant attention in scholarly journals. Examination of its potential impact is long overdue.