Actions and Reactions
ONLY so many patriotic events in any one term can be used to bolster a president's falling approval. Other, more frequent activities, however, can offer a substitute, unifying the nation around its symbols of the president and the flag. These are the routine and ceremonial acts of office—speeches to the American people, trips abroad, and travel around the nation. Perhaps these, too, are positive acts designed to increase public support. They show in their own symbolic way that the president is doing a good job.
Consequently, presidents shuttle from London to Salt Lake City and back to the Rose Garden, with armies of staff workers coordinating each step along the way. Some people argue that presidents are increasingly "going public" and that these public‐ directed symbolic activities are replacing older styles of bargaining and compromise. 1 According to this line of reasoning, Jimmy Carter's series of town meetings, geographically distributed across the country, could be seen as having reasserted common democratic values and showed that the age of the imperial presidency was over. Richard Nixon's European tour, near the end of his beleaguered administration, could be seen as having reminded people of his statesmanship and foreign policy achievements. The Reagan years, according to this argument, brought such