Revolution: Reagan's First Years, 1981-1982
This chapter covers Ronald Reagan's rhetoric during his formative years as president, when he was learning the job and applying various strategies associated with it. Consequently, while Reagan's early years were characterized by some spectacular and well-known successes, the Reagan White House was also guilty of some fairly serious blunders. The success of Reagan's rhetoric was thus highly variable as he learned which strategies worked and which did not.
Another important aspect of the Reagan rhetoric during this period is the substance rather than the presentation. The most notable aspect of Reagan's rhetoric between 1981-1982 is the lack of foreign policy statements and speeches. He did not give a foreign policy speech until October 15, 1981, and the quantity of foreign policy rhetoric remained low throughout the period. The reasons for this and the consequences that resulted from it can best be understood when Reagan's speech is placed within the political context he faced.
The data for this period include all of Ronald Reagan's public speeches in excess of one page in length. There were 157 total documents for 1981 and 278 for 1982, with a total of 435 documents for the period. The number of documents is larger for