Andrew Lee ’07 to Present At Political Conference

Andrew Lee ’07, a double major in PPE and government and a nominee for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, will be presenting his paper Invest or Spend? Political Capital and Statements of Administration Policy in the First Term of the Bush Presidency during a panel dedicated to American political institutions at the Friday, Nov. 11 Georgia Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Savannah, Ga.

“It’s unusual for an undergraduate to take part in academic conferences,” says John Pitney Jr., the CMC Crocker Professor of American Politics. “Andrew is showing exactly the kind of initiative that has marked his college career. It makes him a sterling example of a CMC go-getter.”

Lee’s paper assesses whether the president is likely to issue more threats or statements of support during times of high political capital, specifically during the first term of the Bush administration. Lee contrasts Statements of Administration Policy (SAP), which outline the president’s support or opposition (including veto threats) for legislation, with presidential approval ratings within the first term of the Bush administration.

Lee’s findings suggest that increased political capital does not increase veto threats or other positions that may use political capital, and may actually decrease executive opposition to legislation. The paper outlines four possible explanations for this phenomenon: the situation of divided government during the 107th & 108th Congress; the concept of “investing” political capital; possible impacts from the legislative and electoral cycle; and the president’s ability to anticipate congressional action.

Lee says that contrary to popular opinion, “my paper shows that presidents do not necessarily use political capital just because they have more of it. It takes those who talk about political capital to task.”

Lee’s presentation is jointly funded by the Dean of Students Office and the Debate Union of The Claremont Colleges, for which Lee is a varsity debater.