Monday, July 25, 2011 at 11:31PM
“What’s good for General Motors is good for the country” contains at least a partial truth. “What’s good for the Presidency is good for the country”, however, contains more truth. Ask any reasonably informed group of Americans to the identify the five best presidents and the five worst presidents. Then ask them to identify the five strongest presidents and the five weakest presidents. If the identification of strength with goodness and weakness with badness is not 100 per cent, it will almost certainly not be less than 80 per cent.
Those presidents – Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Wilson – who expanded the powers of their office are hailed as the beneficent promoters of the public welfare and national interest. Those presidents, such as Buchanan, Grant, Harding, who failed the defend the power of their institution against other groups are also thought to have done less good for the country. Institutional interest coincides with public interest. The power of the presidency is identified with the good of the polity.
-- Samuel Huntington, "Political Development and Decay"