The Clinton Presidency: Images, Issues, and Communication Strategies

The Clinton Presidency: Images, Issues, and Communication Strategies

The Clinton Presidency: Images, Issues, and Communication Strategies

The Clinton Presidency: Images, Issues, and Communication Strategies


This important text is the first to examine the Clinton presidency from a communication perspective. Experts in communication and presidential studies analyze the rhetoric, images, issues, and communication strategies employed by the President, the First Lady, and the administration. From the feel-good town meetings of the campaign to the exuberant days of the inauguration, from the health care "crisis" to the Whitewater scandal and the Republican congressional landslide, this volume attempts to separate image from reality and spin from actuality in the media presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.


David E. Procter and Kurt Ritter

One of the functions of inaugural addresses is to unify the national audience by rhetorically reconstituting the concept of the American community. President Bill Clinton sought to carry out this function through an inaugural address that employed regenerative rhetoric. He employed the rhetorical form of the jeremiad to selectively reinterpret the core values of the national community, to decry the failure of the Reagan and Bush administrations to live up to those community values, and to call upon the people to join him in restoring America's true principles. The regenerative rhetoric that Clinton used to launch his administration attempted to subvert the public's allegiance to old political values based upon utilitarian individualism and attempted to reaffirm its allegiance to redefined and restored political values based upon community welfare.

In their book, Deeds Done in Words,Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (1990) detail four "interrelated elements that define the essential presidential inaugural address" (15). The inaugural, they contend, "unifies the audience by reconstituting its members as the people, who can witness and ratify the ceremony; rehearses communal values drawn from the past; sets forth the political principles that will govern the new administration; and demonstrates through the enactment of the inauguration that the president appreciates the requirements and limitations of executive functions" (15). While all of these elements work to characterize inaugural addresses, it is unlikely that all of these elements will receive equal emphasis in a particular inaugural address. Indeed, it is likely that one of the four elements will dominate the focus of the speech, depending on the circumstances of the particular election or times or the specific characteristics of the president.

In his inaugural address President John Kennedy emphasized the American principles that would guide our conduct in foreign affairs. President Lyndon Johnson . . .

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