What Presidents Talk about: The Nixon Case

Authors

  • Lawrence R. Jacobs,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Minnesota
      Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
      Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
      Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
      Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
      Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Benjamin I. Page,

    Corresponding author
    1. Northwestern University
      Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
      Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
      Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
      Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
      Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Melanie Burns,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Minnesota
      Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
      Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
      Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
      Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
      Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Gregory McAvoy,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
      Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
      Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
      Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
      Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
      Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Eric Ostermeier

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Minnesota
      Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
      Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
      Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
      Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
      Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
    Search for more papers by this author

Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. His books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair (with James Morone and Lawrence Brown), Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Robert Shapiro), and The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of Health Policy in the U.S. and Britain.
Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the departments of political science and communication studies at Northwestern University.
Melanie Burns is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.
Gregory E. McAvoy is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Controlling Technocracy: Citizen Rationality and the Nimby Syndrome and has published in the fields of public policy, American political institutions, and research methods.
Eric Ostermeier is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota.

Abstract

Aside from the much-analyzed State of the Union addresses and other major speeches, existing research tells us little about which issues presidents emphasize in their public rhetoric, how they do it, why, and with what effects. This article closely analyzes the public rhetoric of Richard Nixon over his entire presidency. The first section catalogs key characteristics of Nixon's rhetoric that confirm central expectations of the modern “public presidency” including the tendency of the “rhetorical presidency” toward oral rather than written formats, the orientation of “going public” by primarily addressing the general public rather than elite audiences, and a “two-presidency” tilt toward emphasizing foreign over domestic policy. In addition, the article uses the month-to-month variations in the amount and content of presidential rhetoric to examine two hypotheses—that presidential rhetoric is a strategic tool that presidents use to affect real-world events (rhetoric-driven events) and that rhetoric is cast about by the winds of the world (event-driven rhetoric). Despite the impression in some presidential studies that presidents are primarily movers of events, our findings offer substantial support for the event-driven rhetoric hypothesis and only some evidence of the rhetoric-driven event hypothesis.

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