An article this week by Politico’s John Bresnahan examined Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s stances on presidential power and how they would regard restraints on their own authority.
The Bush administration will leave behind a far more muscular executive branch considering its use of signing statements, claims of executive privilege, and the decision-making authority vested in the vice president. Charlie Savage, a 2007 Pulitzer recipient for his work uncovering Bush’s views on executive power for The Boston Globe (he now writes for The New York Times), has made the case that these trends reflect a political philosophy, in gestation since the Nixon years, that argues for unfettered executive power and minimal congressional and judicial oversight in the face of grave foreign threats.
Savage also argues that Bush’s successor will be hard pressed to scale back his executive power. Others -- including legal scholar Jack Balkin and the libertarian writer Gene Healey -- agree that these trends aren’t the exclusive domain of the Republican party.
Apart from the Politico piece and a survey of candidates last December by Savage, Obama and McCain have rarely been pressed on the issue. So we thought it would be helpful to present the statements the two have made on executive power.