A president plays a very important role in leading a country. The president’s trustability determines whether he gains support or not. However, when a faulty decision is made and power is overused, it disillusions the peoples thoughts of an ideal government and places the presidency at risk. Two instances that support this situation are Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency during the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal.
Lyndon B. Johnson was a democratic president who did not wish to be perceived as being ‘soft’ on communism. A few terms before Johnson’s presidency, a Democrat president had failed and ‘lost’ china, and Joseph McCarthy’s charges of Communist infiltrators were directed against Democrats. For these political reasons, Johnson wanted to avoid being accused of losing Vietnam. This led him to misuse his power as Commander in Chief. Johnson announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked an American destroyer, which caused Congress to believe that the United States must do something to protect itself from being attacked. With this reason, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave Johnson broad military power in Vietnam. With this newly granted power, Johnson had troops sent to South Vietnam and ordered the bombing of North Vietnam. As Johnson sent more troops to South Vietnam, Americans began to lose faith in Johnson’s administration and protested to end the war. Johnson realized that sending troops and bombing North Vietnam caused the country’s inflation and economic crisis and withdrew his nomination to serve another term as president from the Democratic party.
Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate Affair serves as a great example that “no one is above the law’. The Watergate scandal was about Nixon’s illegal act of covering up for his advisors for sending five burglars into the campaign headquarters to steal information on the opposing candidate to aid Nixon to win his reelection. Nixon initially claimed that did not know about this incident until the men were caught and attempted to cover up the situation, which was already an illegal action. When the Supreme Court discovered Nixon’s involvement with the scandal, it demanded that Nixon give up the tapes regarding the conversations about the Watergate affair. However, Nixon refused to give up the tapes. Without the tapes, the House Judiciary Committee determined that there was enough evidence to impeach Richard Nixon of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and refusal to obey a congressional subpoena to release the tapes. To avoid being impeached, President Nixon resigned in disgrace.
Both situations produced a deep feeling of disillusion of imperial presidency where both presidents thought that they had the power to do anything they wanted. It showed that the United States constitution did not fail to justify illegal actions. In Nixon’s case, the system of checks and balances demonstrated its effectiveness. The executive power is being checked by the judiciary to limit the president’s power.