AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am grateful for helpful comments and suggestions from Professors Roderick P. Hart, David R. Mayhew, and Byron E. Shafer; and from the anonymous reviewers of Presidential Studies Quarterly.
Five Trends in Presidential Rhetoric: An Analysis of Rhetoric from George Washington to Bill Clinton
Article first published online: 21 APR 2004
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 32, Issue 2, pages 328–348, June 2002
How to Cite
Lim, E. T. (2002), Five Trends in Presidential Rhetoric: An Analysis of Rhetoric from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 32: 328–348. doi: 10.1111/j.0360-4918.2002.00223.x
- Issue published online: 21 APR 2004
- Article first published online: 21 APR 2004
- Cited By
Several political scientists have argued that the presidential recourse to public rhetoric as a mode of political influence in the twentieth century represents a significant departure from a pre-twentieth-century institutional norm where “going public” was both rare and frowned upon. This article look specifically at the changes in the substance of rhetoric that have accompanied this alleged institutional transformation. Applying computer-assisted content analysis to all the inaugural addresses and annual messages delivered between 1789 and 2000, the author identifies and explores five significant changes in twentieth-century presidential rhetoric that would qualifiedly support the thesis of institutional transformation in its rhetorical dimension: presidential rhetoric has become more anti-intellectual, more abstract, more assertive, more democratic, and more conversational. The author argues that these characteristics define the verbal armory of the modern rhetorical president and suggest areas for further research.