Executive rhetoric : an analysis of Reagan, Bush, and Clinton
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Presidential speech has defined some of the greatest moments in American history. However, over the last thirty years the public has grown frustrated with presidential oratory. This project identifies the strategies Reagan, Bush, and Clinton employed to tackle the public’s increasing disenchantment with presidential rhetoric. Using rhetorical analyses of speech drafts, content analyses of weekly radio addresses, and interviews with former presidential speechwriters, this project identified the proactive and reactive ways in which presidents and their speechwriters craft speeches to appeal to a disillusioned public. Results indicate that presidents can employ “executive rhetoric” to appeal to the presidential office and obscure the office-holder. By doing so, presidents can simultaneously preserve the value of speech, and restore—if not expand—presidential power.