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Selling War in a Media Age

The Presidency and Public Opinion in the American Century

Kenneth Osgood and Andrew K. Frank

Publication Year: 2010

George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" banner in 2003 and the misleading linkages of Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 terrorist attacks awoke many Americans to the techniques used by the White House to put the country on a war footing. Yet Bush was simply following in the footsteps of his predecessors, as the essays in this standout volume reveal in illuminating detail.

Written in a lively and accessible style, Selling War in a Media Age is a fascinating, thought-provoking, must-read volume that reveals the often-brutal ways that the goal of influencing public opinion has shaped how American presidents have approached the most momentous duty of their office: waging war.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

History represents a conversation with the past, one that is often inspired by the problems of the present. So it should come as no surprise to discover that the presidency of George W. Bush prompted historians to take a hard look at how modern...

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Introduction. Hail to the Salesman in Chief: Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and the Presidency

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pp. 1-17

In September 2002, White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. initiated a multifaceted campaign designed to help move the country toward support of military action against Iraq. Card told reporters that the George W. Bush administration...

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1. Imperial Tutor: William McKinley, the War of 1898, and the New Empire, 1898–1902

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pp. 18-47

In December 1898, former Union army major and now president of the United States William McKinley mounted a bold foray into South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, the heart of the former Confederacy. The president’s ostensible purpose was...

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2. War and the Health of the State: The U.S. Government and the Communications Revolution during World War I

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pp. 48-66

Randolph Bourne, who composed some of the most famous dissents against U.S. participation in World War I, famously suggested that “war is the health of the state.” In penning his antiwar essays, he stood in opposition to his father, a congregational minister...

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3. Selling Different Kinds of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Public Opinion during World War II

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pp. 67-92

On the evening of November 8, 1942, Katherine Marshall sat in Washington’s Griffith Stadium watching a football game without her husband, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who had told her he could not be out of touch with his office. In...

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4. Cementing and Dissolving Consensus: Presidential Rhetoric during the Cold War, 1947–1969

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pp. 93-112

The war in Vietnam was not going as well as President Lyndon B. Johnson and his top defense advisors hoped at the end of 1965. During the year, Johnson ordered 150,000 U.S. ground troops into the Āght, but the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation...

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5. Hard Sell: The Korean War

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pp. 113-139

An old antiwar poster asked, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” To paraphrase that poster, what if they tried to sell a war and nobody bought? Judging by the past, the answer is that they’d have it anyhow. It’s not that people won’t support...

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6. Eisenhower’s Dilemma: Talking Peace and Waging Cold War

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pp. 140-169

A few hours after the government of the Soviet Union announced the death of Joseph Stalin, two jet Āghters screamed over a tiny town in western Washington state. The residents of Shelton panicked. Assuming that Stalin’s death had touched off a Soviet...

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7. “We Need to Get a BetterStory to the American People”: LBJ, the Progress Campaign, and the Vietnam War on Television

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pp. 170-195

On the evening of 11 August 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson and six journalists sipped drinks and nibbled hors d’oeuvres while sitting on the Truman Balcony of the White House...

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8. Selling Star Wars: Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative

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pp. 196-223

March 23, 1983, was a big evening at the White House. The dinner guests included the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State George Shultz, the physicist Edward Teller, and other scientists. After greeting the assembled notables, President Ronald Reagan...

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9. The Ministry of Fear: Selling the Gulf Wars

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pp. 224-249

A big story broke in the New York Times on February 19, 2002. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon had created an Office of Strategic Influence with the mission of influencing public opinion abroad, especially in Islamic countries. The idea was to...

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10. Conclusion: War, Democracy, and the State

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pp. 250-260

On August 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a major speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville, Tennessee, in which he essentially called for war against Iraq. Cheney...

Afterword

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pp. 261-274

List of Contributors

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pp. 275-278


E-ISBN-13: 9780813045849
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813034669
Print-ISBN-10: 0813034663

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The Alan B. Larkin Series on the American Presidency

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Subject Headings

  • Presidents -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Public opinion -- History -- 20th century.
  • Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Public opinion -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mass media and war -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Politics and war -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Communication in politics -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political leadership -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- History, Military -- 20th century.
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