Assess how the Vietnam War was significant in first allowing an expansion of presidential power and later caused said power to be limited.


I think that the Vietnam War demonstrated how centralized authority in a war can be both enhanced and curtailed.  With the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, President Johnson had secured Congressional authority to move the nation into a clear conflict in Vietnam.  Over time, the President was able to convince the American public of the need to be in Vietnam. Both realities represent how political power was increased in the conflict.  Yet, over time, it became evident that President Johnson and President Nixon were both losing the popular support that the war had enjoyed.  President Johnson's decision not to run again for the Presidency had clearly demonstrated how the Vietnam War was significant in limiting the power of the President.  President Johnson understood in the most lucid of ways that the war had decreased the power of the presidency.  He did not own the war.  The war owned him, crippling his leadership ability and his Presidential powers on both domestic and foreign fronts.  For President Nixon, the war ended up being a major part of the narrative of dissent that has been intrinsic to his presidency.  In both instances, the war enabled Presidential power to be expansive, but still resulted in a shrinking of power and inability to fully gain control over both the lack of power and narratives that the war helped to write about both.

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