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The Rhetorical Presidency: Still Standing Tall


David A. Crockett is an associate professor of political science at Trinity University. He is the author of The Opposition Presidency: Leadership and the Constraints of History and Running Against the Grain: How Opposition Presidents Win the White House.


Mel Laracey has done a singular service to presidency studies by highlighting how early premodern presidents were engaged in public discourse. His attempt to consign Jeffrey Tulis's scholarship in The Rhetorical Presidency to the dustbin of history, however, is premature. On a small scale, some of Laracey's evidence countering Tulis's thesis is unconvincing. On a larger scale, much of Laracey's analysis appears to be a case of disputes over definitions, a dispute that does not address the enduring insights of Tulis's work concerning the consequences of constitutional reinterpretation. Finally, the attempt to construct a Kuhnian paradigm shift fails, as much of Tulis's diagnosis of the problem of presidential power in republican government remains valid.