Personal qualities

Another major presidential resource is the president themselves. Presidential personality and leadership skills are incredibly important for presidential success. Presidents have to draw on their political skills, and particularly their powers of persuasion, to achieve their policy goals. Presidents can use their position to attract media and congressional attention. The president's position as the head of state and head of executive branch gives them high degrees of authority, allowing them to be persuasive.

The personal ability of each president affects the extent to which they are successful persuaders of both Congress and the public. Different presidents have different natures or characteristics that influence their approach. President Trump's aggressive approach can be contrasted with the more conciliatory style of Obama. Trump has been quick to denounce most people who oppose him, often in personal terms. After the failure to pass The American Health care Act in 2017, Trump

threatened both Democrats and conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus saying that they should be removed in the 2018 mid-term elections. There is a debate about the effectiveness of these approaches in terms of gaining influence, which is further addressed in the case study below.

Richard Neustadt and the power to persuade

In 1960, in his book on presidential power, Richard Neustadt suggested that 'presidential power is the power to persuade'. This suggests that the president has extremely limited constitutional power to enforce political change, unlike prime ministers in European democracies or dictatorships. The president can ask Congress to accept his views, but has little power to back this up. Due to the

separation of powers and checks and balances, Congress has the ability — and often the will — to say no.

Case study: Obama's personal powers

There are different schools of thought about Obama's presidency. Many critics argue that, while he had strong oratorical skills, he was not decisive or forceful enough in pushing his own agenda. Obama's governing style has been criticised for being too aloof, perfectionist and passive toward key issues, rather than pragmatic and commanding. Over the budget negotiations after budget shutdown in 2013, some (including Senator Bernie Sanders) complained that he was not taking charge. In this sense Obama could be accused of not being 'presidential' enough and forcing the two sides to form a compromise.

Others suggest that Obama's willingness to devolve responsibility to Congress for developing legislation was a better way to gain congressional support. Obama was merely reacting toa hostile Congress with polarised parties. If Obama had been too aggressive, he might have achieved nothing other than irritating Congress. His willingness to compromise, even when he held a Democrat majority, helped him achieve some of his policy goals, such as health care, where a more stubborn Bill Clinton failed.

Case study: The Johnson Treatment'

LBJ Lyndon Baines Johnson used his personal skills of persuasion in a manner which became known as the 'treatment'.

The Johnson treatment is not easily defined, but it typically involved invading the personal space of the target – Johnson taking advantage of his substantial bulk – and issuing a disorientating stream of flattery, threats and persuasion that would leave the target unable to counter.

Bill Clinton 'I feel your pain' -Clinton's ability to reach out to people was in stark contrast to the aloof and patrician George Bush.