Which of the first six presidents best respected the role as outlined in Article II of the Constitution? Or, who did the poorest job?

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This is, of course, a matter of personal opinion.  I will look at the president that I think did the worst job of abiding by Article II of the Constitution.  I will say that John Adams did the worst job.  The main reason I say this is because he allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to be passed and enforced even though they were perhaps the most blatantly unconstitutional laws ever passed by our Congress.

There are two things that Article II does that make me think that Adams did not do a good job.  First, Article II says that the President must “take care that the laws be faithfully execute take care that the laws be faithfully executed” and it says that he (or someday she) must take an oath in which they swear that they

will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I would argue that Adams failed badly to do these things when he allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to be passed and implemented.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were terribly unconstitutional.  Among other things, they essentially made it illegal for anyone to criticize the government.  The laws were passed because the Federalist Party wanted to keep power and because they felt that the ideas of the Democratic-Republican Party were bad for the country.  Therefore, they passed these laws that made it very difficult for the Democratic-Republicans to express their opinions.  This is a terrible violation of the right to free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment.  Because Adams failed to protect and defend the Constitution, and because he failed to faithfully execute the laws (the First Amendment), I would say that he did a terrible job of respecting his job as outlined in Article II. 

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Of the presidents from Wilson to Hoover, who did the best job and who did a poor job of respecting the president’s job as outlined in Article II of the Constitution? Give one specific example.

The answer to this will depend to a great extent on your particular political point of view.  Our view of who is doing a good job as president is definitely colored by our views of their politics.  This is particularly true because Article II has so little in the way of specifics about what the president should do.

For example, to liberals, President Hoover might be seen as one of the presidents who did a very poor job.  This is because he did not try to have the government do much to combat the problems that were caused by the onset of the Great Depression.  This, to liberals, seems like a failure to help the people of the United States.  To conservatives, however, Hoover (and President Coolidge before him) would be seen as presidents who did a very good job.  This is because they (in this view) upheld the Constitution by refusing to let the federal government get involved in areas that it should not be involved in.

In my view, the president from this time period who did the worst job of respecting the office was President Harding.  I say this because it was in his administration that the government was notably corrupt.  Some cabinet secretaries that Harding picked, and over whom he was supposed to preside, used their offices to enrich themselves.  I would argue that this shows that he did not do a good job of selecting cabinet members or acting as their boss.

I do not see any of these four presidents as having done a particularly good job of respecting the office.  I have already mentioned that conservatives would argue that Hoover and Coolidge were good because they did not allow government to expand.  One might argue that Wilson did a good job because he fought so hard for the version of the Treaty of Versailles that he helped to negotiate.  You could say that this shows that he respected the idea that the President (and not the Senate) is responsible for making treaties.  However, I do not think that any of these four presidents was notably good at respecting the office.

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