Clinton and Congress

  • Michael Foley
Part of the Southampton Studies in International Policy book series (SSIP)


One of the perennial rituals of American politics is the attribution of new beginnings to any incoming president. The personalized nature of the office, combined with the individual focus of presidential electioneering, infuses any inauguration with an evangelism of national reaffirmation and political renewal. Such an idealism of singular discontinuity is almost invariably neutralized by a subsequent and pervasive realism of multiple continuities, exemplified by Congressional unresponsiveness to presidential agendas and priorities. The disjunctions in legislative-executive relations have been particularly evident with the onset of a high incidence of ‘divided government’ where the presidency is controlled by one party, while the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or both, are controlled by the other major party. The full potential of the system’s devices for reciprocal control and mutual obstruction were thought to be realized under such conditions, producing in turn calls for ‘unified government’ under which the friction of conflict would be hugely diminished through the common denominator of uniform party control.1


Democratic Party Republican Party Popular Vote Economic Programme Democratic Leadership 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

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  • Michael Foley

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