If We Want to Rein in the Imperial Presidency We Have to Grade Presidents Differently. Laura M. Brown wrote this interesting essay on strong American presidents. She writes that, "If we want presidents to respect separation of powers and defer to Congress, then we need to reconsider our definitions of presidential leadership and greatness." She notes that strong presidents in the past like Lincoln and FDR are treated favorably by historians. Hence, she contends that the current and future presidents may also mimic these well regarded strong presidents so that they may also be treated well by future historians.
Of course, her argument is stronger and more elaborate than this. Please read the whole article. However, I think I have at least given a decent summary here.
I am not sure how much of this actually impacts presidents. Yes, they all want history to look back on them in a favorable manner. But, how many men (or women) who have personalities that will allow them to commit "extra-constitutional actions" are going to actually alter their behavior because historians may decide to downgrade them later? I think the personality of individuals who become strong presidents are mostly immune to the media and historical critics.
Despite my above comment, I think this is an interesting and though provoking essay.