Playing the Game: The Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview

Note that it is not our security nor our economy that is emphasized, although Reagan advocates high tech for those reasons as well. 39 But what is really crucial is the tie to the goodness of the United States. That goodness is the element of Reagan's rhetoric that contributed to his popularity, and his inability to maintain the scenario contributed to his loss of that popularity after the Iran/Contra revelations.


CONCLUSIONS

The scenario that Reagan sets up in his foreign policy is simple and very powerful. The United States always has been, and always will be a beacon of freedom and light to the world. We are a special people with a special mission. That mission is to remain a force for good in the world. We remain such a force through our beliefs, our actions, and our policies. There are those in the world who oppose us. They are forces for oppression and evil. We can talk with them, as in the case of the Geneva summit, but only with an eye toward peace, and never blindly trusting them. It is not their words but their actions that we must trust. All of the events and issues of the period were placed into this context. It was the power of the context that helped to make Reagan's interpretations of events so plausible, to his opposition's frustration. The factual truth may have varied from Reagan's interpretation of an event. But the emotional truth was always in accord with it. Because the context Reagan offered suited what Americans wanted to believe about themselves, the interpretations of events that Reagan fit into that context were almost always accepted unquestioningly by the majority of Americans.

This scenario had an added advantage: As long as the American public was entranced by and appreciative of it, they were not likely to look too closely at the actual policies of the Reagan administration. This is clearly an advantage as far as covert activities are concerned, but is also an asset regarding the other policies of the second term. Analysts have noted that the Reagan administration seemed to be a victim of its ideological consistency and early success, for it lacked focus and direction in the

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Playing the Game: The Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • PRAEGER SERIES IN POLITICAL COMMUNICATION ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Series Foreword xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 6
  • Chapter 1 Ronald Reagan and the National Media 9
  • Introduction 9
  • Notes 22
  • Notes 23
  • Chapter 2 Revolution: Reagan's First Years, 1981-1982 27
  • CONCLUSIONS 41
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 3 Consolidation: the Teflon President, 1983-1985 47
  • Introduction 47
  • CONCLUSIONS 61
  • Notes 62
  • Chapter 4 Cracks in the Teflon, 1986-1988 67
  • Introduction 67
  • CONCLUSIONS 80
  • Notes 81
  • Chapter 5 the Great Communicator? 85
  • Introduction 85
  • Notes 93
  • Epilogue: Rhetoric in the Post-Reagan Era 95
  • INTRODUCRION 95
  • Notes 114
  • Notes 115
  • Selected Bibliography 119
  • Index 125
  • About the Author 128
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