The work begins by showing the lack of clear, widely shared standards whose enforcement is needed to sustain the balance of power and draws on the thinking of the founders and political theorists to crystallize such standards. Next it details how, in the absence of standards, agents such as Congress and the Supreme Court with formal influence on presidents and informal agents such as media and public opinion have unwittingly enabled unnecessary power expansion, such as the presidential 'wars of choice'.
Of course change of this magnitude cannot be expected to happen quickly. Remedies necessarily involve a reform architecture intended to unfold gradually, with the first step being simply to start a focused conversation (another purpose of this book). Buchanan moves toward specific remedies by identifying the structure and strategy for a new think tank designed to nudge the political system toward the kind of change the book recommends. Lastly, the book shows how a fictional policy trial could take a practical step toward in rebalancing the war power.
This is a crucial examination of presidential power and the U.S. separation of powers system, with a focused effort on making a course correction toward the kind of power sharing envisioned in the Constitution.