However bitter, complex, and urgent today's controversies over executive power may be, former deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo, now an AEI visiting scholar and a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that they are nothing new. In Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush (Kaplan Publishing, 2010), Yoo explores a factor often overlooked in the current debates: the past. He traces how the decisions made by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed the role of the American president. The link between the vigorous exercise of executive power and presidential greatness is both significant and misunderstood, Yoo explains, and the Constitution is deliberately vague on the limits of presidential power so as to allow strong presidents leeway to act in defense of the nation in times of crisis.
At this event, Yoo discussed Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush. AEI resident scholar and government expert Norman J. Ornstein, and Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic, continued the debate on executive power. Constitutional law expert Terry Eastland of The Weekly Standard moderated.