The Geo-Social Presidency: Lest We Forget


Roderick P. Hart holds the Shivers Chair in Communication and Government and is the director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author or editor of twelve books.


This article respects Coe and Neumann's call for a unified data set for textual studies of the U.S. presidency, but it objects to its (1) national, (2) formal, and (3) issue-based characteristics. Coe and Neumann's data set dismissed the ceremonial dimensions of the modern presidency; its partisan-political events; its dialogue with the nation's press; and, worst of all, the local and regional encounters between the president and the American people. In cordoning off these activities, Coe and Neumann intellectualize an office that is profoundly social and psychological in nature. They also dismiss its transactional aspects as well as its emotional, symbolic dimensions. In offering the list of speeches they do, Coe and Neumann thereby ignore the sociology of American politics, a considerable oversight indeed.