Rhetorical Studies of National Political Debates-- 1996

Rhetorical Studies of National Political Debates-- 1996

Rhetorical Studies of National Political Debates-- 1996

Rhetorical Studies of National Political Debates-- 1996

Synopsis

Seventeen of the most widely seen and heard speakers in history all have one thing in common: they were all seen and heard while engaged in national political debates as they sought the two highest offices Americans can bestow upon their countrymen. This book focuses on the most recent four of these individuals--Clinton, Dole, Gore, and Kemp--and the rhetorical centerpieces of their respective campaigns, the 1996 political campaign debates. This text explores the factors motivating the candidates to debate, the goals of each candidate in debating, the rhetorical strategies, and the effects of particular debates. The volume ends with insights into the patterns and trends of national political debating. This is an invaluable text for students and researchers of American political campaigns, the presidency, and rhetoric.

Excerpt

Those of us from the discipline of communication studies have long believed that communication is prior to all other fields of inquiry. In several other forums I have argued that the essence of politics is "talk" or human interacfion. Such interaction may be formal or informal, verbal or nonverbal, public or private, but it is always persuasive, forcing us consciously or subconsciously to interpret, to evaluate, and to act. Communication is the vehicle for human action.

From this perspective, it is not surprising that Aristotle recognized the natural kinship of politics and communication in his writings Politics and Rhetoric. In the former, he establishes that humans are "political beings [who] alone of the animals [are] furnished with the faculty of language." And in the latter, he begins his systematic analysis of discourse by proclaiming that "rhetorical study, in its strict sense, is concerned with the modes of persuasion." Thus, it was recognized over 2,300 years ago that politics and communication go hand in hand because they are essential parts of human nature.

Back in 1981, Dan Nimmo and Keith Sanders proclaimed that political communication was an emerging field. Although its . . .

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