Texas A&M University Press

Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 15

:
:
restricted access This search result is for a Book

Before the Rhetorical Presidency

Edited by Martin J. Medhurst

Since its identification in 1981, the rhetorical presidency has drawn both defenders and critics. Chief among those critical of the practice is political theorist Jeffrey K. Tulis, whose 1987 book, The Rhetorical Presidency, helped popularize the construct and set forth a sustained analysis of the baleful effects that have allegedly accompanied the shift from a “constitutional” presidency to a “rhetorical” one. Tulis locates this shift in the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, arguing that the rhetorical presidency is a twentieth-century phenomenon. Yet not all scholars agree with this assessment. Before the Rhetorical Presidency is an attempt to investigate how U.S. presidents in the nineteenth century communicated with their publics, both congressional and popular. In part 1, Martin J. Medhurst, Mel Laracey, Jeffrey K. Tulis, and Stephen E. Lucas set forth differing perspectives on how the rhetorical presidency ought to be understood and evaluated. In part 2, eleven scholars of nineteenth-century presidential rhetoric investigate the presidencies of Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley. As the first volume ever to focus on nineteenth-century presidents from a rhetorical perspective, Before the Rhetorical Presidency examines administrations, policies, and events that have never before been subjected to rhetorical analysis. The sometimes startling outcomes of these investigations reveal the need for continuing debate over the nature, practices, and effects of the rhetorical presidency. In a brief afterword, Medhurst raises eight challenges to the original formulation of the rhetorical presidency and in so doing sets forth an agenda for future studies.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

FDR's Body Politics

The Rhetoric of Disability

By Davis W. Houck and Amos Kiewe

Franklin Roosevelt instinctively understood that a politician unable to control his own body would be perceived as unable to control the body politic. He took care to hide his polio-induced lameness both visually and verbally. Through his speeches—and his physical bearing when delivering them—he tried to project robust health for himself while imputing disability, weakness, and even disease onto his political opponents and their policies. In FDR's Body Politics: The Rhetoric of Disability, Davis W. Houck and Amos Kiewe analyze the silences surrounding Roosevelt's disability, the words he chose to portray himself and his policies as powerful and health-giving, and the methods he used to maximize the appearance of physical strength. Drawing on never-before-used primary sources, they explore how Roosevelt and his advisors attacked his most difficult rhetorical bind: how to address his fitness for office without invoking his disability. They examine his broad strategies, as well as the speeches Roosevelt delivered during his political comeback after polio struck, to understand how he overcame the whispering campaign against him in 1928 and 1932. The compelling narrative Houck and Kiewe offer here is one of struggle against physical disability and cultural prejudice by one of our nation's most powerful leaders. Ultimately, it is a story of triumph and courage—one that reveals a master politician's understanding of the body politic in the most fundamental of ways.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Green Talk in the White House

The Rhetorical Presidency Encounters Ecology

Edited by Tarla Rai Peterson

The environment figures prominently in American political debate of the twentieth century. Issues of wilderness and wetlands preservation, clean air and clean water, and the sustainable use of natural resources attract passionate advocacy and demands for national as well as local action. Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt have addressed these issues, rhetorically (though not always prominently) in their public addresses and pragmatically in their policies and appointments to pertinent positions. Green Talk in the White House gathers an array of approaches to studying environmental rhetoric and the presidency, covering a range of presidential administrations and a diversity of viewpoints on how the concept of the “rhetorical presidency” may be modified in this policy area. Tarla Rai Peterson’s introduction discusses both methodological and substantive issues in studying presidential rhetoric on the environment. In subsequent chapters, noted scholars examine various aspects of half a dozen modern presidencies to shed light not only on those administrations but also on the study of environmental rhetoric itself. The final section of the book then directs attention to the future of presidential rhetoric and environmental governance, with looks “in” at state-level environmental issues and looks “out” at the international context of environmentalism. As a whole, the volume is ideal for those looking to better understand the particular intersection of presidency, policy, and rhetorical studies.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Militant Citizenship

Rhetorical Strategies of the National Woman's Party, 1913-1920

Belinda A. Stillion Southard

Between 1913 and 1920, the National Woman’s Party (NWP) waged a campaign to write women’s voting rights into the U.S. Constitution. Unlike the more moderate campaign strategies adopted by other woman suffrage organizations of the Progressive Era, the NWP remained committed to militant agitation—that is, holding political party leaders responsible for social change and doing so through nontraditional means of protest. Some of these militant strategies included heckling President Wilson, protesting silently outside the White House gates, and publicly burning his speeches in “Watch Fires.” Such militancy resulted in institutional acts of social control including censorship, arrests, beatings, and force-feedings. And yet, by the end of the woman suffrage movement, the NWP had earned the endorsements of every major political party, as well as of prominent politicians (including Wilson), and had found its name splashed across the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. One Times article even referred to the NWP as the “suffrage leaders.” Exploring the ways in which the militant NWP negotiated institutional opposition and secured such a prominent position in national politics drives the analysis offered in this manuscript. In light of the NWP’s militant identity and its demonstrated political viability, Belinda A. Stillion Southard treats the party’s campaign for woman suffrage as an example of how a relatively powerless group of women constituted themselves as “national citizens” through rhetoric. To this end, she uses volumes of NWP discourse, including correspondence, photographs, protests, and publications, to situate the NWP in the historical and ideological forces of the period, particularly as they are inflected by meanings of nationalism, citizenship, and social activism. In addition to this project’s historical focus, this study features the critical concept of political mimesis to help explain the ways in which the NWP mimicked political rhetorics and rituals to simultaneously agitate and accommodate members of the political elite. Taking root in Aristotle’s notion of mimesis as the process of representation and drawing upon more postmodern theories that link mimesis to identity-formation, this study demonstrates that the NWP’s mimetic strategies took multiple forms, including parody and appropriation. Through the rhetoric of political mimesis, the NWP militantly inserted itself into U.S. politics while it also earned the political legitimacy needed to assert women’s citizenship rights. Ultimately, the strength of political mimesis as a strategy of social change was demonstrated by the ways in which the NWP’s rhetoric circulated within national and international political discourse and solicited a response from political leaders, the U.S. news media, and NWP supporters.  

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Mobilizing the Home Front

War Bonds and Domestic Propaganda

By James J. Kimble

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Moral Rhetoric of American Presidents

By Colleen J. Shogan

Although sometimes decried by pundits, George W. Bush’s use of moral and religious rhetoric is far from unique in the American presidency. Throughout history and across party boundaries, presidents have used such appeals, with varying degrees of political success. The Moral Rhetoric of American Presidents astutely analyzes the president’s role as the nation’s moral spokesman. Armed with quantitative methods from political science and the qualitative case study approach prevalent in rhetorical studies, Colleen J. Shogan demonstrates that moral and religious rhetoric is not simply a reflection of individual character or an expression of American “civil religion” but a strategic tool presidents can use to enhance their constitutional authority. To determine how the use of moral rhetoric has changed over time, Shogan employs content analysis of the inaugural and annual addresses of all the presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush. This quantitative evidence shows that while presidents of both parties have used moral and religious arguments, the frequency has fluctuated considerably and the language has become increasingly detached from relevant policy arguments. Shogan explores the political effects of the rhetorical choices presidents make through nine historical cases (Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Buchanan, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Carter). She shows that presidents who adapt their rhetoric to the political conditions at hand enhance their constitutional authority, while presidents who ignore political constraints suffer adverse political consequences. The case studies allow Shogan to highlight the specific political circumstances that encourage or discourage the use of moral rhetoric. Shogan concludes with an analysis of several dilemmas of governance instigated by George W. Bush’s persistent devotion to moral and religious argumentation.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Presidential Speechwriting

From the New Deal to the Reagan Revolution and Beyond

Edited by Kurt Ritter and Martin J. Medhurst

The rise of the media presidency through radio and television broadcasts has heightened the visibility and importance of presidential speeches in determining the effectiveness and popularity of the President of the United States. Not surprisingly, this development has also witnessed the rise of professional speechwriters to craft the words the chief executive would address to the nation. Yet, as this volume of expert analyses graphically demonstrates, the reliance of individual presidents on their speechwriters has varied with the rhetorical skill of the officeholder himself, his managerial style, and his personal attitude toward public speaking. The individual chapters here (two by former White House speechwriters) give fascinating insight into the process and development of presidential speechwriting from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to Ronald Reagan’s. Some contributors, such as Charles Griffin writing on Eisenhower and Moya Ball on Johnson, offer case studies of specific speeches to gain insight into those presidents. Other chapters focus on institutional arrangements and personal relationships, rhetorical themes characterizing an administration, or the relationship between words and policies to shed light on presidential speechwriting. The range of presidents covered affords opportunities to examine various factors that make rhetoric successful or not, to study alternative organizational arrangements for speechwriters, and even to consider the evolution of the rhetorical presidency itself. Yet, the volume’s single focus on speechwriting and the analytic overviews provided by Martin J. Medhurst not only bring coherence to the work, but also make this book an exemplar of how unity can be achieved from a diversity of approaches. Medhurst’s introduction of ten “myths” in the scholarship on presidential speeches and his summary of the enduring issues in the practice of speechwriting pull together the work of individual contributors. At the same time, his introduction and conclusion transcend particular presidents by providing generalizations on the role of speechwriting in the modern White House.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric

By Martin J. Medhurst; Edited by James Arnt Aune

Culminating a decade of conferences that have explored presidential speech, The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric assesses progress and suggests directions for both the practice of presidential speech and its study. In Part One, following an analytic review of the field by Martin Medhurst, contributors address the state of the art in their own areas of expertise. Roderick P. Hart then summarizes their work in the course of his rebuttal of an argument made by political scientist George Edwards: that presidential rhetoric lacks political impact. Part Two of the volume consists of the forward-looking reports of six task forces, comprising more than forty scholars, charged with outlining the likely future course of presidential rhetoric, as well as the major questions scholars should ask about it and the tools at their disposal. The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric will serve as a pivotal work for students and scholars of public discourse and the presidency who seek to understand the shifting landscape of American political leadership.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations

Establishing the Obama Presidency

Justin S. Vaughn

Campaign rhetoric helps candidates to get elected, but its effects last well beyond the counting of the ballots; this was perhaps never truer than in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Did Obama create such high expectations that they actually hindered his ability to enact his agenda? Should we judge his performance by the scale of the expectations his rhetoric generated, or against some other standard? The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency grapples with these and other important questions.

Barack Obama’s election seemed to many to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the “long arc of the moral universe . . . bending toward justice.” And after the terrorism, war, and economic downturn of the previous decade, candidate Obama’s rhetoric cast broad visions of a change in the direction of American life. In these and other ways, the election of 2008 presented an especially strong example of creating expectations that would shape the public’s views of the incoming administration.  The public’s high expectations, in turn, become a part of any president’s burden upon assuming office.

The interdisciplinary scholars who have contributed to this volume focus their analysis upon three kinds of presidential burdens: institutional burdens (specific to the office of the presidency); contextual burdens (specific to the historical moment within which the president assumes office); and personal burdens (specific to the individual who becomes president).

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 15

:
:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication

Content Type

  • (15)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access