The imperial presidency in the United States has staged a comeback some 13 years after the fall of Richard Nixon. Both the recent renewal of presidential aggrandizement and the reaction against it recall the latter days, hectic and ominous, of the Nixon presidency, when I wrote The Imperial Presidency. My argument then, as now, was that the American Constitution intends a strong presidency within an equally strong system of accountability.
How does he do it? Here is an administration in ruins. Here is a president who has nearly quadrupled the inflation rate at home, has produced the highest interest rates in American history, and now is deliberately steering the nation into a recession; abroad he has kicked away confidence among friends and foes alike in the sobriety, consistence, and reliability of American foreign policy. Six months ago he was nowhere in the polls.
The Adams Papers: Volumes I through IV, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams L. H. Butterfield, editor (Harvard; $30) The Papers of Alexander Hamilton: Volumes I and II Harold C. Syrett, editor (Columbia; $25) In 1950, when the Princeton University Press brought out the first volumes of Julian Boyd's edition of the Jefferson papers. President Truman asked the National Historical Publications Commission to consider a publication program for other American heroes.